The Books We Love to Hate

If you cast a wide net across my book list, you’re bound to come back with some controversial books: Wheel of Time, Way of Kings, or Game of Thrones (less controversial in the post-HBO era, I suppose). And I’m not going to lie, when people ask me why they should read these books, I sometimes struggle.

It’s not that these books aren’t good, but they have certain qualities which can make them…unpalatable. And these qualities come out immediately if you talk to anybody about these series. It starts off simple; you ask them about the books and they say ‘oh, it’s like Lord of the Rings, but‘ (oh, not everything is actually like Lord of the Rings, but if you’re explaining a fantasy novel to somebody who doesn’t know fantasy, that’s a pretty good starting place, but then the list of ‘but’s starts to grow longer and longer until you’re not even sure the book is fantasy anymore).

And they start getting excited, they say:

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The Wheel of Time: A Late Eulogy for Robert Jordan

gentleman-gustaf-figure

For my first review, I was all set to review a book by Brandon Sanderson. I outlined what I liked about the book, what I thought Brandon Sanderson brought to the table, where his writing felt flawed, and so on. And then I tried to introduce Brandon Sanderson. I couldn’t do it. To talk about what Brandon Sanderson does right and wrong was something I had only ever learned to do in contrast to Robert Jordan, and anything I could write about Brandon Sanderson would be overshadowed by my 5 paragraph intro about Robert Jordan. Brandon Sanderson is a spectacular author in his own right, and deserves to be written about on his own, without a page of intro about somebody else. So instead, I find myself writing about Robert Jordan.

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