osmie: (Bowler)
to the tune of "New Moon on Monday"

Ahem. )


If you're ploughing through the series, you can meaningfully read the prequel anytime after book 1, and before book 11. Personally I would recommend right after book 5.

Conveniently, this is also the point at which I recommend people start skipping. By all means begin book 6, but be aware that the writing only gets worse for five books. The moment your interest flags, put down the current volume and skip to Knife of Dreams.
osmie: (Bowler)
On finishing Winter's Heart, I didn't even know how to filk it.

My inner filk voice wanted to do Journey: "Trudging beside you, here in the snow…." Give each verse a subplot, make each chorus about the act of reading this series, and finish, "Passing the time, with a thick volume nine, Winter's Heart." Done and done.

But [I wrote], yegods, Robert Jordan. This isn't so much a novel as a checklist of how many queens — in the royalty sense — you can depict naked. I counted seven: three reigning queens, one ex-queen, and three characters who aren't queens yet but (with varying degrees of foreshadowing) are certainly going to be. Your three main male characters are swiving their way through the royal families of every nation on your fictitious planet — and it's never their own doing, oh goodness no; it's just that they happen to be sexually irresistible, and powerful women have needs, you know.

You're a talented writer — talented enough that I'm still here, still reading, and still enjoying myself, even as I feel my critical faculties turning to carrot juice. But I cannot filk your book without acknowledging how ridiculous your queen-stripping habit has become. And I don't even have a tune in mind.

So I tried. )

Maybe I was getting somewhere. But that's all the energy I had for such a crappy book. Seriously, friend, I can see why you might want to subject yourself to volume 6, and I can even imagine wanting to skim volumes 7 and 8, but save yourself from the nadir which is volumes 9 and 10.
osmie: (Bowler)
to the tune of "Tell Her about It"

This is another pretty good one. )




Volume Six is around where the series gets frustrating, and I start recommending people skip ahead. This is even more true thematically: the character flaws which first become apparent in Volume Six turn out to be the subject of the epiphany which resolves the entire plot in Volume Fourteen. Those last nine books might have made quite a good trilogy.
osmie: (Bowler)
Lately I've gotten into the habit of writing a filk for each book I read. I've been posting them to Facebook, but that is really not the right venue: it's too private, too transient, and far too resistant to indexing.

Since what first attracted me to LiveJournal, way back in 2006, was writing book reviews, it seems somehow appropriate that I should use book filks to drag my way back here.

As it happens, this practice began when I started tackling that enormous shelf-long fantasy behemoth The Wheel of Time, so all I've got so far is a whole swack of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson fanphernalia … I'll start copying them over with my next post.

The Wheel of Time itself is frankly fascinating. Published in fifteen volumes over the course of almost 30 years, it influenced an entire generation of epic fantasy writers. This means it alternated between worldbuilding feats and thematic concerns which were far ahead of the field, and a reliance on narrative structures and thematic constructions which the field had long since moved past. Fulfilling the promise of its own story meant that it was always laying avant-garde threads, but picking them up fifteen years later when they looked downright dated.

Even in its worst excesses, it's a compelling read. The world is vivid and varied; the characters grow and change without becoming clones of each other; the plot is ridiculous, but always worth reading for the history into which it fits. One of Jordan's most important themes is that men and women are stronger when they co-operate; this leads to a setting in which that co-operation has been broken for thousands of years, with extreme sex-role dimorphism in every culture on the planet … but he's careful to make sure that the specific roles assigned to each gender are different in every culture.

On the other hand, he didn't get good at this for a couple of million words, and if you're not very careful, portraying sex-role dimorphism looks nigh-indistinguishable from being sexist. (Also, until his dying day, he seems to have had no idea what really happens in a room full of women: generally there's a lot less ritual nudity. This misapprehension doesn't help his case.) He doesn't mention race until about volume four, when physical characteristics like eye shape and skin tone gradually begin to creep in. He's scrambled their geography, so that the desert nomads are red-haired whisky drinkers, and the bindi-wearing brown-skinned folk are from the distant northern mountains, but it takes him until about volume ten to start scrambling them well, creating cultures that are a mixture of traits, including made-up cultural norms, instead of an orientalist transplant.

It also took him until about volume ten before we met a single queer character. Oh, except for the obligatory transsexual female supervillain who's actually a man in disguise, because we haven't read that trope eighty-five times too often. I'd like to spit on his grave for that subplot. It wasn't even well written.

Structurally, The Wheel of Time is a single novel of more than four million words. It's published in fifteen volumes, but there are about forty novel-length subplots, and I'm not at all convinced that its chapters are in the best reading order. Maybe someday I'll go through the whole ruddy thing and suggest a chapter-by-chapter alternative, but more likely this is all you'll ever get.

Here's how it breaks down:

There are extremely mild spoilers here. )

So. With that, here are some filks.

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