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Thursday, 28 April 2022

Asking not telling


Amazon sent me this link to stream The Wheel of Time on Prime Video. I've never even read the books, nor had any inclination to, but maybe that's an unfair prejudice -- although articles like this and moody TV promo shots like the one above only serve to confirm my suspicions. I just always assumed The Wheel of Time was another Tolkien wannabe and that the TV show was a lame attempt to turn a bunch of third-rate fantasy novels into a new Game of Thrones. Any fans of the series want to disabuse me of that notion? I'd settle for anyone who's looked at the books or the show and wants to warn others off.

21 comments:

  1. I read the books up to about book 6 back in the day and had no great expectations either way. I quite enjoyed it, thought it was pretty fun.

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  2. I read the first book a long time (decades!) ago and thought it was a bog-standard Tolkien knock-off with annoying names (no one but Moorcock should be allowed to make free with the apostrophe, and then only in demon names!).

    I watched the first episode of the series while self-isolating with Covid and thought it utterly dire (significantly worse than the book, which - as I remember it - bounced along reasonably well in its bog-standard way). I wasn't tempted to watch any more.

    Judging by the first episode, the series would confirm the prejudices of anyone who says that they dislike "fantasy" - in a way that the first episode of (say) Game of Thrones or Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell would not.

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    1. Thanks, JC. I think I can safely give it a miss, then.

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  3. It looks wheely, wheely bad (sorry). I didn't read it, Dave, albeit I read most other fantasy of the era. Another book that did the 'hokey cokey' with my shopping basket at the time. I did think his Conan stories were the best pastiches of the originals, albeit they've long since departed my book collection.

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    1. He did Conan stories? I didn't even know that, Andy. Actually, Jamie has read almost every fantasy series going (the bigger the better in his book) so I should ask him.

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    2. I'd put Jamie's Warlock columns in the top writing influences of my life

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    3. A big influence on both Dirk Lloyd and Vulcanverse books 1 and 3, too!

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  4. I quite enjoy the books, I read all of them it's a great saga to read, the main charater is not the most interesting one but like in tolkien , the show is slow to start but really good later on.

    Mat and perin are way more interesting when they get separated and star their own side quest.

    Could the serie been done in way way less books definitly, does it make it bad not at all, does it take forever to read yes..

    Are you missing something for not reading it, well depends how much you like fantasy. Lot of people gonna say wheel of time is a classic but most of them never dare to finish the serie becasue way too long ;)

    I definitly enjoy it, I'm happy I finnish it but I don't plan to read it again (the same goes for royal assassin, sword of truth tw oother really good but too long serie ;) )

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    1. It definitely sounds like Jamie's cup of tea. Not so much mine -- I don't really like series, and I still haven't got around to the second and third Gormenghast books even though I loved Titus Groan.

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    2. Oh, you should read number two (Gormenghast)! It's really good and is much more 'story' than 'scene' compared with Titus Groan; the two complement each other perfectly.

      I could never get through the third, which is markedly different.

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    3. I'm definitely planning to read them. It's not lack of interest that's holding me back so much as wanting to keep them as a treat. I haven't yet read Vance's Planet of Adventure books for the same reason.

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    4. I must be missing something with Vance. I know you like him a lot, and so does Tim Harford. But I'm halfway through Lyonesse and, despite wanting to like it, I find it just isn't enthralling me and I keep putting it down.

      Perhaps it's because he jumps around with characters and doesn't really delve into their psyches. And the fault probably lies with me as so many people I respect really love him. Do his other books take a different stylistic tone?

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    5. Lyonesse feels quite different from The Dying Earth or The Demon Princes series, but I say that as someone who knows Vance's work pretty thoroughly. If you have only read a few they might seem similar. All of them have that tone of dry irony that implies a dispassionate distance from the characters, though I find that makes their misfortunes (the end of The Book of Dreams, for instance) all the more poignant. But Vance is certainly working in a very different style and tradition from British fantasy writers like Tolkien, Lewis, etc.

      You can compare it to films by directors like Joseph Losey or Andrea Arnold, that just present you with events and let you react as you will, compared with somebody like Hitchcock or Spielberg with their much more deliberate crafting of the emotional effect they want.

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    6. Hi Dave, just catching up on some back issues of your blog - I always prefer to save them for when I have time to fully enjoy and respond! Just thought I would add here, re: Vance and the British fantasy tradition, that E.R Eddison's "The Worm Ouroboros" (1922) reads to me like a perfect collaboration between Jack Vance and Will Shakespeare, and I think there is little doubt that travellers from Demonland and Witchland came to Lyonesse!

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    7. Imagine it, John -- instead of plundering third-rate fantasy novels for their TV epics, the streaming networks could have been adapting Ouroboros, Gormenghast, Earthsea, Lyonesse, etc!

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    8. Absolutely. Wordplay that's better than the swordplay; and exploration not just of fantastical lands, but the landscapes of character.

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  5. It is just a propaganda show.

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  6. I can't in good conscience really recommend books or TV series, particularly if you're already sceptical. It is Tolkien with a twist, albeit with a cast of thousands and more of a look at corruption/bad Huna characters. Plus the book series slows to a total glacial pace from book six to 10, until Sanderson wraps it up at warp speed in the final three.

    For me the TV series had some points of interest (and an excellent fight scene) but it's nowhere near peak series Game of Thrones. Nynaeve was probably the best character for my money — which was a nice switch as I found her to be so flatly written.

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    1. Amazon's algorithms apparently thought I would like it, even though I didn't make it more than halfway through GoT and didn't see the new Tolkien TV show. (Actually, is that even out yet? From all the publicity I assume it is.)

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  7. My best recommendation is to not take a man's advice on the quality of the show. It centers powerful female protagonists and is quite good.

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