Wheel of Time Readthrough, Part 8

Okay, so I started writing a retrospect of the life of my book’s first year, intending it just to be a brief thing, but I write flow of thought and I ended up rambling a bit, so if you just want to Skip To The Part Where I Start Talking WoT, that’s all cool.

It’s been one year this week since I self-published my first book, Lesser Evil, and before I get into my thoughts on Path of Daggers, I’d like to have a moment to retrospect on the past year.  And since this is my blog, I can do that.

Lesser Evil took about four years for me to write, polish, edit, and get out into the world.  I know it is not perfect, but I am quite proud of what I put out.  And for the most part, my reviews (the few dozen that I have gotten, all told) have been mostly positive; finding out someone who is not obligated to like your book (friends, family, etc) has liked your book is maybe the best moment of your career as a writer (next to maybe getting an order from a big publisher, I’ll let you know how that feels if I ever get there).  Of course, not all my reviews have been positive; a few have been quite humbling, and a couple are kind of … weird (one of my Amazon reviewers said that they would have given my book a 4.5 had I listed it in the YA category, but as it stood would only give me a 2.5, another on Goodreads took off points becuase apparently using snake venom as an academical component pushed his suspension of disbelief too far).

I really wish I could be telling a grand story of my success here, but at this point I’ve given away more copies than I’ve sold.  Not that the amount of copies I’ve given away is an insignificant number, I made the book free during my birthday and, thanks in large part to an outpouring of support from reddit, my book ended up at the top of Amazon’s ‘free fantasy’ category that day.  I don’t know how many ended up actually reading it, and of those how many enjoyed it, but I do hope a portion of those are still awaiting the second book in the series, which I am still working on, I promise, just not with as much time to work on it as I wish, what with my current financial situation (I’m still a long way from quitting my day job here, and desperately need a better one of those at that).

I knew getting attention as one self-published author in a sea of both talent and crap was going to be a challenge, but the greatest challenge I faced this year was one I really did not expect: getting (and keeping) my reviews.  It is not big surprise that readers use reviews to tell which SP author they should give a chance to, and its really a matter of quantity than quality (someone is likely to buy a book with thirty 3-star reviews than five 5-star).  I knew that going in and was ready, with advanced copies out to several blogs and amazon reviewers, I was sure I would hit twenty reviews by the end of the first month (good or bad I couldn’t guarantee, but I was cocky).  If you look at my Amazon page right now, you’ll see that, after a year, I have 10.  Some reviewers were less reliable than others (I spent 30 dollars shipping a physical copy to a blogger in India who, now a year later, has stopped responding to my emails), but the real drain on my reviews was Amazon.  I’m not sure what I did to raise a flag on my book (perhaps getting too many reviews too quickly?) but Amazon seemed convinced my reviews were coming from friends and family, which is against their policy.  Now, I have friends who have also self-published with Amazon whose reviews were almost entirely from their friends and family (and sometime from even shadier sources) and none of them has ever had a review removed from their page.  But Amazon picked out my book and started blocking and removing my reviews; when I tried to talk to their service department about it, they removed two more of my reviews and said the case was closed and they would not respond to any further inquiries in the matter.  It was this that prodded me to remove my book from Kindle Unlimited; if my book was going to be ignored, it might as well be ignored in all possible markets.

I see this has come off as a (mostly negative) ramble, and…that was not my intention when I started typing.  Maybe I needed a good vent.  The year has had some high points and low points, was the point I intended to make, and I’m not ready to give up on my dream just becuase of the low ones.  Writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do, no matter the challenges, and I will continue to do so, even if only a dozen people ever read what I write.

End Rambling; Begin Wheel of Time Talk

Alright, sorry about that.  Onto The Path of Daggers.  Path was … short, and I feel I should have finished it twice as fast as I did.  I struggled with the slow first half, which was mostly political maneuvering.  There was a good start where the Bowl of Winds was finally used, but I felt that could have (and should have) been dealt with in the last book.  At this point, having the Bowl used was, after nearly two books of being dragged out, was more of a “finally, now we can move on” moment, than something that felt epic and satisfying.  Then there was a long, kind of dull part which was just Nynaeve’s group traveling towards Caemlyn (another ‘finally’ moment was when Elayne decide to go take her throne) with the main conflict coming from the bitching between the three different group of women casters.

Perrin’s up next, accidentally (and unknowingly) recruiting Morgase into his service; there were moments I was sure he was going to put two and two together, but even Faile didn’t realize there was something off about the behaviour of their new servant.  And then he gets the pledge of the Queen of Altara, despite Faile’s attempts at meddling and his own instincts.  Usually I like Perrin’s parts, but this also felt slow.  Egwene’s own political maneuvering at least had an interesting (and kind of funny) conclusion, though the build up to it also seemed drawn out.

So the book’s just slow political maneuvering, and then Rand quite randomly decides he’s off to take his Expendables (people he doesn’t like + Asha’man) to go drive away the Seanchan, and I am like, yeah okay I can get into this.  And I was totally into it, crazy Rand and all.  I quite like how Jordan also gave us insight in the Seanchan’s commanders before/during the battles, which really gave us a better view of how the battle was playing out.  The final battle outside Ebou Dar felt epic, even if not much was accomplished there, with both sides considering the battle a defeat, though the Seanchan are probably not about to leave the city.

I’m still left trying to piece together what exactly happened during the book’s conclusion to Rand’s storyline.  His Asha’man turned on him for some reason; I would suspect Taim but even Taim seemed surprised that Dashiva also tried to attack Rand.  Perhaps it was retribution for Rand going crazy-face and killing one of them on accident, but it certainly has not been made clear.  And, of course, the incident made Rand even more crazy-face, to a point even Min might not be able to pull him out of; I would not be surprised if Rand was full mad by the end of the next book.

Like the last book, I was left thinking what this book must have felt like to someone reading the books as they came out.  For me, going through the books in one long splurge, the book represents a slow point in the overall story; not a bad one, necessarily, just … drawn out.  I feel like the vital points of this book and the previous one could have been thrown together in one book with all the filler cut out.  For someone reading the book as it came out, well, let say, I can understand why some of my friends might have exaggerated a bit when warning me about this point in the series.

Some thoughts:

Mat’s absence is certainly felt.  With him, the slow points are at least broken up by his sense of humor, without him, its just slow, building dread.  Last I saw him, a building was falling on him, but I don’t believe for a second that he is dead.  Though I am left wondering what he is doing, unless it is really taking him this long to recover from his injuries, in which case he is hurt worse than I imagined.

Elayne took down Rand’s banners when she took Andor and I was kind of mad at her for it.  Whether she wants to admit it or not (and she certainly does not, with her repeated mantra that Rand has no right to give the throne to her) she owes him, the one who removed a Forsaken from the throne of Andor and held it against all kinds of political schemes for her.  Well, when Andor is in the middle of the shit that is inevitably aimed at it, we’ll see which banners she turns to to bail her out.

The siege of Tar Valon finally began, but…we did not get to see it this book.  I hope, with the ridiculous, long, and somewhat silly buildup, the siege itself is epic enough to be worth the wait; if not, it will definitely rank as a greater disappointment.

Elyas telling Perrin how to handle a Saldean woman is hilarious.  And the fact that it works even more so.  Based on the behavior of their queen, it would seem Faile is not an exception in their craziness.  Remind me if I ever somehow wind up in this world to avoid Saldean women.

Also, I was really surprised, and excited, to see Elyas again.  I had thought he was gone for good, having not been seen since the first book, his role fulfilled getting Perrin in touch with his inner wolf.  But man, absent for seven books, I think that might the record.

“Last Chance” seems like the kind of thing you would name your resident Starscream, so I am going to go out on a limb and assume that Cyndane is Lanfear.  Which would make Moridin Ishmael, considering that is the only one left who that would make sense for him to be.

Sheriam doesn’t strike me as a Darkfriend, but someone is forcing her to feed them information on Egwene.  I think if it was Aran’gar, Jordan would have shown us that instead of keeping the figure forcing Sheriam in the dark.

For once, I am very interested in the side story taking place in the White Tower.  The investigation into whose Black Ajah is interesting, and now that they have finally nailed their first one (a Sitter, no less) I am quite interested in seeing where that goes, and how long Alviarian can keep her secret…secret.

Logain reappeared as an Asha’man, but one who actually seems loyal to Rand instead of Taim (though I may be reading waaaay too much into the three lines he got).  If I read this right, if there is any hope of any of the Asha’man remaining loyal to Rand after Taim outright betrays him, it lays with Logain.

The cover for this one was actually pretty freaking awesome.  I think it is my favorite cover of any of the books so far.

That’s all I got for now.  Probably another two weeks for me to read Winter’s Heart.  And thanks to all of you who actually sat through my rant at the top.

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