Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Robert Jordan vs Brent Weeks

I’m not a Robert Jordan fan.
Speaking of his books as a product, not the man himself, who I am sure was a great guy.

Now please don’t stone me for this. I am married to the biggest Robert Jordan fan known to man and I have heard all the arguments for why Robert Jordan is amazing, and have had him try to force feed me the rest of the books past the few I have submitted to reading, as though that will somehow cure me of my insanity…but I still am not a Robert Jordan fan. I know the man is dead and I respect him as a writer... but I probably would have respected him a lot more if he’d actually…ahem, made a few choices in his work towards the end there instead of meandering on and saying absolutely nothing plot worthy, and thus maybe finishing his massive body of work before kicking the bucket. But that is neither here nor there.

People love Jordan.

I, however, feel the man didn’t have a terrible lot to say, and what he did say, he didn’t say very well. Pick up the first book of the series and read the prolog, the very unnecessary prolog, and tell me it’s not of the same caliber of about 80% of the highly rated fan fiction you read online. It’s not good. It’s melodramatic, the information could have been revealed later in a more dynamic way (as with most of his reveals) and the writing is remedial. Add to that its massive bulk, and I have no idea what made people pick it up in the stores. I slugged through it…and I never take forever reading books, but this one took me forever simply because I could not find a single character engaging.

The man’s writing had the emotional pull of a rock. So that, if nothing else, made some sense--teenage boys could find the writing extremely non-threatening, because there was nothing stirring about it and later on (I am told anyway) there are lots of topless female pirates. So maybe that was it, I literally have the wrong equipment to enjoy the brilliance that is Robert Jordan.

Additionally, he has what I like to call TSR syndrome, and that is a terrible habit of stealing from every era in history and world culture that he’s ever so much as glanced at an article on in a National Geographic and dumping it into his mess of a series. His "world building" is what has put him on the map, but to me it looks like a serious case of the same problem that left his work unfinished after his death—a refusal to make choices. He just took everything! He left no culture or time period untouched. So now…if you want to write a fantasy novel, and base it loosely on your own culture, the history given to you by your birth…the fairy tales your old grandparents and their grandparents told you when you were a child…chances are, you are going to get some idiot fan screaming at you, accusing you of raping the Jordan verse. That’s assuming you don’t get a lawyer ringing you up instead.

Case in point...

And it’s so sad, because every theme he used in his books were so common, and all based on things before his novels(often other people's novels!). He didn’t invent anything. He didn’t make anything up. He just pushed it all together into a hodgepodge mess that is so hard to keep up with that every time he released a new novel, my husband had to reread the whole series just so he could remember half of what was going on. Usually, by the time he got to the end…he’d gotten lost somewhere in the middle.

The reason for this whole left field rant is Brent Weeks. http://www.brentweeks.com/

I’ve seen him accused numerous times on the web as having stolen directly from Jordan and it is infuriating. Weeks's writing is so far and away from anything Jordan has ever accomplished that I simply can’t understand anyone so much as comparing them to one another, let alone suggesting Weeks would steal from Jordan. Weeks's prose is engaging, emotionally gripping, as is his plot, and his characters get you right in the gut from the very moment you meet them. You may or may not fall in love with them, but you simply must follow them--he makes you, hooks you in, and you can’t help but latch on to them as they struggle and claw their way through the sometimes vicious plot he’s written them into. Weeks is a bad bad man for what he’s done to his characters, but he’s a damn good writer. I would love to be so good. I’d sell a damn kidney to be so good.

I would not sell fingernail clippings to write like Jordan.

Seriously though, if you don’t believe me the man is good, get the book The Way of Shadows.

Assuming you can handle mature themes and some serious badness raining down on unsuspecting innocent characters. The books may be a lil much for some people, The Night Angel series anyways, I don’t know about the others.

The Way of Shadows Excerpt (He has like 9 chapters up for you to read before you even buy the book...confidence much?)

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