Dovie'andi Se Tovya Sagain

The best Fantasy is metaphorically a fun house mirror, twisting and distorting, but basically showing us our own image.  Jordan has taken his knocks as a sell-out, and for being too commercial.  It is not a totally undeserved criticism, but at it core, I think his, Wheel of Time, series does an unparalleled job of reinterpreting our modern experience.  

One of the pillars of Jordan's expansive world is the dominance, both politically and domestically, of women.  It's a woman's world - men are equals at best and often discriminated against.  This social order is justified partially by the idea that men are spiritually corrupted.  Women can reach out freely to, "The Creator," or, "The Light," but men are unable to commune directly with these powers w/o terrible risk to themselves.      

By inverting the dynamic of sex and gender in our real world, Jordan is commenting on society's attempt to deal with a long history of unjustified discrimination against women and indirectly against other races or ideologies.  Much of which discrimination was buttressed by religion, or an idea of "spiritual inferiority."  

The primary "magical" element in Jordan's fantasy is the, "One Power."  An ability with which a skilled user can do virtually anything you can imagine.  Not everyone can access this ability, and some can to a greater or lesser extent.       

A friend once suggested this "One Power" is a metaphor for Atomic Energy / Weaponry.  I think the interpretation can be even broader.  Like Tolkien who explored the implications of industrialization for society and the individual, here Jordan is exploring the implications of individual empowerment manifested by technology.  

Using the "One Power", an individual or small group can heal hundreds, even thousands of the injured and sick; but they can also become a frightening force of destruction.  Users can communicate with others, travel wherever they want, manipulate the Earth, build amazing structures; any of this starting to sound familiar? 

What are the consequences of having some much power in the hands of so few?  It is quite a unique situation in human history.  The decisions of a few hundred, maybe a thousand people, decide the fate of this world every day.  We don't like to think about it, but that doesn't make it less true.  Jordan's "Age" begins just after the previous Age's researchers / magicians reach too far into the "One Power," destroying themselves and, "breaking the World."  I think his implied warning is clear.     

Jordan has received myriad praise for his ability to write character.  And well deserved too.  He has a keen understanding that everybody thinks he or she is the hero of the story.  He is careful to fully develop his villains giving them convincing backgrounds and motivations.  And it is not always easy to tell the difference, since the "good guys" cause a fair amount of death and destruction themselves. Of course there, is also a legion of two-dimensional, creepy crawly types for the heroes to practice on; but the real enemies are very compelling characters.  It is hard not to root for them (poor Asmodean he was my favorite).

FarmerGiles FarmerGiles
31-35, M
5 Responses Jul 19, 2009

WOT is the best series going today, IMHO. Just be aware, once you read Eye of the World you are committed to 13 books averaging 400+ pages. The latest entry was written by a new author, as RJ died sometime last year. I really enjoyed it, readers finally got some resolution to plot arcs spanning multiple books.

Thanks for the suggestion, sounds interesting

Point taken. True.<br />
Well science truly has made a mess out of man. It is truly something that cannot be contained and will spiral out in its due time. And science in search for its answers forgets there is a threshold it must not cross, an not meddle with Nature. Nature will fight back and is the greater power of the two. Just saying.

Oh, I agree with you. The point I was trying to make though was that even the most power mad Caesar was pretty limited in the amount of destruction he could unleash in ancient times. <br />
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Today through Nuclear, Biological and Genetic technologies, there are those "in power" who could destroy or "break" the entire world with a few orders, a few pushes of the button. I do think that this is unique & has never been the case before.

Does he also comment on women playing catalyst to this unjustified discrimination? <br />
Comment on Unique situation in history. <br />
In a broader sense I don't think its unique, humans have not changed since the very first time they stepped foot on this planet.Basic rule, required to rule humanity is, "appeal" to the masses throw a bone of their choice, once they want, and "NEED" the bone, you have your seat, the one with the throne. Governments and Monarchs have done this since the beginning of time . Sometimes they will use religion sometimes martyrs sometimes vulnerability, susceptibility coercion. These days the corporate world, money talks and the glitz of it all is hyped to the max to keep people as zombies. The people are busy trying to fulfil a fictional life full of fantasy. And those at the top order are easily functioning their agendas while we feed on the bone. The illuminati grows ever stronger.<br />
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I haven't heard of Robert Jordan but you'v certainly peaked my interest and kudos to the post.