Why is there so much hate for Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time books? (possible spoiler)

Compared to other long-running series, that is.

I am one of those poor fools who began reading the Wheel of Time with the release of Eye of the World. It was enjoyable fluff, and had a nicely detailed world that I could feel as having a past as well as the present of the story. And that first book felt like the first book in a relatively short series - I was expecting it to end in a trilogy, or at most a series of five or six books.

By the time I stopped reading the series, it was at five or six books, and at the end of that last book I’d read it was further from a conclusion to the story than it had been at the end of the first book. And I was fed up. I’ve not read one of Robert Jordan’s books in over ten years, and I doubt I’ll ever go back.

Having said that, I enjoy long series. I’m reading several, at the moment, and enjoying them immensely. David Weber’s Honor Harrington books, and it’s offshoots; Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan books; Jane Lindskold’s Firekeeper books; and even Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books.

What is it about these open-ended series that makes them enjoyable, where WoT was just painful and incomplete?

David Weber’s HH books, in particular, have begun one major war, ended it, had the second war fought, and now show signs of opening up the whole of human occupied space to “interesting times.” So, it’s quite fair for me to claim that at the end of the most recent HH book, At All Costs, the series is further from an conclusion, now, than it had been at the end of the first book.

Likewise the Firekeeper books are growing into a sort of travelogue of the whole of Lindskold’s world. The ending of the most recent book, Wolf Hunting, is very much an intermediate stop, not a completion of the story. So, again, we’ve got another series, which at the end of book five, is further from a conclusion than it was at the end of book one.

Both the Vorkosigan and Stephanie Plum books are less problematical for me - they’re open ended series with no set over arching story, beyond the main character’s development, so I don’t feel quite so hypocritical for wanting more of them, while scorning WoT for leaving me with an unfinished feeling at the end of the last several books I’d read.

I figure I’d ask my fellow Dopers for any thoughts they’d care to share on this conundrum. I know that my disgust for WoT is far from being unheard of on this board, and I also know there are a number of fans of HH, and other of the series I have mentioned. I wonder if someone can give me a simple explaination of why the flaw I see in WoT isn’t a flaw when used by David Weber, or Jane Lindskold.

(Yes, one could simply say that they’re better writers, but that’s only part of it, I think. :wink: )

I started with the WoT books when Eye of the World hit paperback so many years ago. I don’t think most people have a problem with the length of the series it’s that he failed to advance the plot significantly in so many of the later books. I know I was sick of waiting for Perrin to finally rescue Faile. At this point I’m going to finish the series because I’ve invested so much time reading the books and I can only hope he continues to move the plot along like he did in Knife of Dreams.

Marc

It doesn’t matter how long a series is, as long as it doesn’t get boring. The WoT series has become mind-numbingly boring (although I haven’t read the latest installment; I hear the pace has picked up a bit). Hordes of superfluous characters have been created, in a way that reminds me of how The Sims 2 spawns townie after useless townie until the neighborhood becomes a Burning Ball Visible From Outer Space, and described from their eyes to their toenails. The important characters seem to be stuck in a rut. No one seems to change or mature in any believable way…and don’t even get me started on the female characters.

I am still curious as to how this will all end, which is why I grudgingly keep reading the books. I’m sure there are a lot of readers like me out there - and you have to give Jordan credit: he obviously did something right. In my opinion, he created a fascinating world and promising characters but failed to develop either of them to their full potential.

I haven’t read most of the series you mention, but I’d say one difference between the ones I am familiar with and Jordan is that Jordan is definitely building to a specific conclusion. The Last Battle has been foreshadowed from page one, and that’s what we’re all waiting to see. But we’re just not getting any closer! Book after book goes by with nothing happening. Crossroads of Twilight was the worst - the entire book was just a description of what everyone else was doing while Rand was cleansing the male half of the Source, which happened at the end of the previous book. Elayne spent the entire damn book taking a BATH!. Ahem. Anyway. I don’t think we’d even mind if he took his time building to the end, if the journey was interesting, but too often it’s not. The frustration comes in because there are moments of sheer genius, like Dumai’s Wells, Rand’s vision of the Aiel history in Rhuidean (one of the best-written scenes I’ve ever read, IMHO), Perrin fighting to save the Two Rivers, or the aforementioned cleansing; but they’re separated by chapter after interminable chapter of crap. And this is coming from someone who still considers himself a fan. Or at least RJ’s bitch.

I do think there are a LOT of series out there that are a lot worse than WoT. Terry Goodkind, anyone? But those are easily dismissed as crap and we don’t need to bother with them. But you can’t just dismiss Jordan. There are those occasional fantastic parts that stay with you and force you to dig through the garbage until the end. That’s where the frustration comes from.

I agree there are worse series out there. (I was thinking Mack Bolan while writing my OP.) I just found it interesting that the series that I’m enjoying most, can be described with the same phrase I’ve used to explain why I’m no longer reading Robert Jordan. And figured The Dope was the place to get some other views on the subject.

The Vorkosigan books are stand-alone as well as being a series; each individual book can be read and enjoyed by itself. I’m not familiar with the rest.

Whereas the WoT books never seem to end a single subplot. Also the main characters were feeling dumber and dumber to me with every plot curve (they just were too slow to be called “twists”).

I don’t hate WoT but I can’t be bothered rereading it or buying the new ones.

It seems like he did too much too fast and he’s trying to fix it with too little too late. First few books were great. Nice tight pacing and goddamn he was clicking through that ole checklist of signs to the apocalypse. Then Jordan must’ve realized that he wanted to squeeze a few more books out and had to slow the pace way down.

Okay. Maybe not. Still, the books have become rather padded. There are just too many characters doing too many things at once and most of it is stuff we really don’t need to know about. Who cares that Mat’s lovers former plucky stable boy has an important part to play in what may be the third or fourth to last battle of Carhorn RaeDawnChong. Why does he keep bringing back the formerly dead Sycophants of the Dread Lord Bernie? Most importantly, where’s his editor and why is he/she letting this fluff stay in?

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His editor is (literally) in bed with him. She’s his wife. Which explains a hell of a lot…

To clarify, Jordan is married to Harriet McDougal, who is an (former?) Executive Editor of Tor Books, and specifically working editor of the Wheel of Time series.

Considering the amount of sheer filler in the books, I think I have to dispute the “working” part.

Well, I said “working”, not “effective”… :smiley:

I defended the series up until Crossroads of Twilight. Oh my fucking god, I’ve never before read a 700 page book where there was less than thirty pages of actual FORWARD MOTION IN THE PLOT.

Now? He pissed away 700 pages where he did next to nothing and introduced another dozen characters…so in the book after, Knife of Dreams the characters are all suddenly in fast-forward (Aram, anyone?) because, oops, we need to get this series finished before the author dies!

-Joe

The latest wrinkle is that he has contracted some disease, so it’s anyome guess if we will ever get a resolution, because, obviously, he has a lot to worry about now other than concluding this series. He has Amyloidosis, although it seems his treatment is going well and his median life expectancy has increased from 1 year to 6 years.

This page expresses my rage better than I probably could, starting as it does with the immortal line:

Needless to say, it contains vast amounts of swearing and is thus textually not safe for work.

That explains a lot!
I had heard a few years ago that the series would end at 13 books, then he started on companion books in the series.
I’ve given the whole thing up as a dead loss now and regret getting involved in the first place. From a bright beginning it has gradually become a bloated work that had a cast of thousands.

I also gave up on Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Having read the first book in the early 80s my patience ran out there too in the late 90s.
Perhaps I’m not a long series kind of guy.

:slight_smile:

When I asked my brother if anything had happened in CoT he said Elayne " had had a bath"

Everybody said it, but add me in to the chorus. No plot, no ending, no resolution to any of the myriad ideas or characters he threw in. Ugh. And every story was the same.

OOoooooooOOOOOO, niiice!

Thanks, aruvqan

See, THIS is what really got my goat (no, not the initiation goat…the other one) about the whole thing. The man is writing 700±page opera and taking forever to do it, we’re waiting years for the next book to come out, and he goes and does a completely unnecessary PREQUEL, thus pushing back the release date of the actual body of the story. Admittedly, it’s an obese, flabby, bloated body, but it’s still one that I’d like to eventually get to the end of…

I gave up after 9 books.
How can I put this…

His female characters suck.
He can’t write realisitic women, they all come off as idiots or porn characters come to life. I wanted to slap every single one of them. Seriously, every female character appears to have been written by a teenage boy who has never actually met a live woman he isn’t related to by blood.

Plus, the pages (and pages and pages) of needless descriptions of what the female characters are wearing… I could have done with a lot less of that.

To be honest, I don’t care where the series ends, because I’ve probably imagined better endings myself while trawling through his books, waiting for something good to happen, and for the women to grow a brain cell between them.