Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time: Missing a Wheel
[Hrm, perhaps I should have titled it :Missing a Spoke]
I’ve always felt that there was something missing or extremely annoying about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I couldn’t exactly pinpoint it given that I didn’t have many books or series to compare him to and I never could figure out just exactly why I was discontented with his stories. The battle scenes at the end of the books 3-5 were nice and exciting, but even they lacked greater meaning and tranquility afterwards.
So I picked up this bit from google. It sheds some more light on this issue because you know me, I can never turn my back on a mystery if only for curiosity‘s sake.
The Wise Old Man, the staple archetype of every fantasy novel, is conspicuously missing in Wheel of Time. In LOTR we have good old Gandalf, in Harry Potter we have Dumbledore but there is no like character in Wheel of Time. In fact, there are no old men at all. Neither are there any old women. Most characters, at least the major ones, are very young and they are very much on their own. There is no one to guide them. No one who knows more than them. No one they can trust and turn for counsel and no one who has any idea what is going on.
The archetype of the Wise Old Man represents, to a certain degree, the tendency of people to hold on to tradition and stereotype when faced with uncertainty. With such an archetype missing in Wheel of Time, it becomes a more contemporary fantasy where the world is changing so fast and things are so uncertain that one cannot rely on any Wise Old Men any longer. It is each man and each Aes Sedai to himself and herself and thus (fortunately) we have faces that are devoid of hair longer than a few micrometers.
Certainly it is true to some extent that those that grew up in Vietnam might have seen things as chaotic yet not needing any guidance from the Old Guard.
The universe, in my eyes, runs on the Celestial Hierarchy. For everyone that is powerful, there is someone weaker and someone more powerful. It balances out in an infinite chain. Sometimes the ends of those chains connect, in which the weakest become the strongest, and thus we have a miracle; of sorts.
There is a stability in that system; in the system of advancement based upon merit or luck. You get certain archetypes out of that in the human experience. The Top Dog, wise and experienced in the ways of treachery and battle; having survived many experiences that would have brought down a weaker entity. The Merciless Killer, which is constructed out the human view of society and someone who operates outside of societal or human morality with no regret or compassion.
There’s more to it, so just click on the link.
[UPDATE:Here’s the direct link to the main post. In a comment I left there, I mentioned the mad ancient mentor bit.]