So I’m halfway through Book One now, and I’m happy to say it’s still a pleasurable experience, even after all these years. Part of me wondered if this would be like when I watch movies I loved as a kid, only to find out that they’re junk through the eyes of an adult. Not so with this book. Of course, there are pieces that really bug me, but they bug me more in the way that siblings can bug me. It’s an irritation you know and accept, so it doesn’t really get to you. For example, I don’t like the Traveling People. They annoy me. And so when Perrin and Egwene got roped into hanging out with them for a few chapters, I sighed, rolled my eyes, and kept reading. Because there are cool things there, too–especially anything with Perrin getting to know the wolves. That’s always full of Win. Right now I’m at the part where Mat goes all coo coo for cocopuffs and his ruby dagger. Again, I don’t like Mat at that point. I like the cool General Luck Mat. So when he gets all shifty-eyed, I take it in stride and wait for him to snap out of it.
These aren’t flaws in the book. They’re aspects of why the series is so successful, in my opinion. Jordan did a great job creating characters that I deeply care about, and he did so quickly and efficiently. At the beginning of the novel, I care about Rand and his friends right away. Why is that? Well, some of it is because I know them from having read 9,000 other pages of the series. But a large part of that is because at heart, they’re good people. They’re not just characters. They have personality, and they’re in situations I can relate to. No, I’m not saying I was ever a farm boy in a medieval society, but they’re going through a growing up process remarkably similar to the things young adults deal with today. I remember relating to these three guys while I was reading them as a teenager–admiring them and learning from some of the things they did or didn’t do. Maybe that sounds stupid now, but I still think it, and rereading the books, I can still see why.
A lot of what Jordan does in this book has since become cliched, but I think it’s vital to remember that he’s a big reason why these things got that way. He did them so well, and along came a slew of other writers who copied what he had done.
What will really be interesting to me is to see how well Brandon can capture these same characters and make them come alive and still be consistent. I would think the task would be easier, since there are so many books to draw from. But at the same time, I think that might make it harder, as well–sort of like the “real” characters in any number of motion captured movies these days. (Polar Express, anyone?) They have all the basics down–skin textures, movements, nuances–everything is there that should make them look real. But the realer they’re supposed to look, the creepier they become. We’ll have to RAFO on this one, I suppose. 🙂