Robert Jordan’s birthday is Monday the 17th of October so I figured I would write something on how his books influenced me and my writing. He of course is the fantasy writer that was writing a very long series and unfortunately, passed away before it was complete. Many are worried that George RR Martin might share this fate, but honestly I don’t know.
I guess when I was reading Wheel of Time, at first I was interested, the further the series got along the harder it became for me to take it seriously. I felt like many times Mr Jordan was treading water; less plot was happening because the story had splintered into so many directions that he was busy just trying to keep up and so it felt like he was lost. Like he knew he should end it, but didn’t know how. I am not sure he would have ever finished it. Honestly, he may have never wrapped it up even if he had lived another ten years it was all ready at book 13 or 14 I believe when he passed? I may be wrong, I haven’t fact checked so I’m going on memory here.
Okay, so how did he influence me? Well, going back and working on my novel from 2001 it is painfully obvious to me in every half smile, bitter laugh, and gawd knows what else, that he had a direct influence on my word choices and how I defined characters. Going back and trying to re-read Wheel of Time, the first thing I notice is how repetitive these things are. A character is defined by how they swing their braid, or how they half smile, or some other little gesture, and it repeats throughout the books. It is a defining feature of that character. It is also annoying.
Mr. Jordan had great skill as a puppet master, keeping many lines going at once, and that also affected me, unfortunately that is a skill that takes a lot of practice to perfect, and my skill wasn’t there yet.
So, while I think he is a decent writer, his works for me are more Anne McCaffery and less Le Guin. More middle school literature, than college. It is hard for me to go back and enjoy them. I do recommend them to people who are young and haven’t read much fantasy, they are pretty light fare. I would say they are more epic in nature than Piers Anthony, and not as high fantasy as Terry Brooks, but the writing level is about the same. Not as medieval or descriptive as Martin, so an easier start into fantasy. It is like the Hobbit as opposed to Lord of the Rings. A 6-inch sandwich as opposed to a foot long.