Well. I don’t know what I was expecting. It’s a 1970s fantasy novel written by a man whose major series I gave up on eight books in because I got tired of his characters. I guess I just had to see if Jordan was really capable of writing a complete novel that clocks in at a measly 352 pages. (Spoiler: He was.)
It was mildly entertaining, but the main points of interest for me were the bits and pieces I recognized that would later reappear, far more developed and polished, in Wheel of Time. Here we can clearly see the seeds that would later grow into the Aes Sedai and their Warders, the Aiel and their Wise Ones, and so on. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this book was more fun for me as a WoT Easter Egg hunt than as an actual fantasy novel. As fantasy novels go, I thought it was pretty average.
I’m sticking my notes here under a spoiler tag. They’re not terribly spoilery (the last one is the only spoiler, really), and I didn’t get very far before I got bored documenting every time something ripped me out of the story. But if you want to know why it took me ten days to get through this book, these notes will give you a good indication.
The MC’s name is Wulfgar and it is super distracting. I know the name’s been around since before it showed up in Beowulf, but I associate it with R.A. Salvatore’s barbarian character from the Drizzt books. It is so jarring to see it here, applied to a similarly hyper-idealized barbarian. At least this Wulfgar doesn’t wield a hammer.
Above, Loewin chased across the sky, driven there in its battle with Ban and Wilaf, with t’Fie and Mondra. – That’s on the very first page, offered without explanation, and it was a while before I realized those are all probably the names of moons. Ugh. Could I get some context, please?
Jordan keeps throwing around made-up words without explaining them, as if I’ve got an illustrated guide to the world this book is set in. It’s super annoying. What’s a gromet? What’s a fanghorn look like? What are Runners and why’d they kill a bunch of barbarian dudes and leave nothing but bones? Who the hell knows?
So what I’m getting from this so far is that Jordan being crap at writing women was a problem from the outset.
This is definitely a ’70s fantasy novel. Magic is for the wimmins, and for some reason the wimmins have to get naked to cast spells?
I advanced on him singing my death song. My swords sang the song in the air. – The style is doing my head in a little bit. I’m suddenly super grateful Wheel of Time wasn’t in first person.
Her breasts were firm, upstanding globes. Oh, Robert.
There’s a whole lot of people being stripped/getting naked in here. Need to do magic? Get naked! Have you been taken prisoner? Get stripped! Need to rape the barbarian guy you’re trying to tame as your slave? He’s already been stripped (see “Have you been taken prisoner?”) so go ahead and get naked! Helloooo, ’70s fantasy novel!