An awful lot of skirt straightening and braid pulling

The Fires of Heaven  - Robert Jordan

I flicked through a couple of reviews of this book and one that caught my attention was one that suggested that this is the point where Jordan's series begins to go down hill. It seems that most people drop out of the series between this one and book seven, and it seems that the major complaint (and it is the one that ended up putting me off) was that the story arc involving the three girls pretty much grinds to an absolute crawl. It is as if Jordan is playing the game of Pygmalion by injecting so much life into these three female characters that he actually wants them to step out of the page.

The story of Pygmalion is an interesting one in that it is about a sculptor that is so disenchanted with the women around him that he decides to create a sculptor of the perfect woman and then asks the gods to breathe life into her, which they do. I suspect that many authors are Pygmalions (and it is not just the male authors who are guilty of this, but also many female authors). Basically they turn to literature to create these perfect human beings. I know that I have done that in my younger days, desiring a wonderful girlfriend so much that I would write stories were the major character was the girl that I would have loved to marry. However, back then not only was I young, but my writing style was absolutely atrocious. There are still some stories in existence where I have attempted to do the same thing. Another thing that I would do would be to transpose the woman that I had a crush on into my story (under a different name) and mould and craft her there.

I have changed a lot since then and I have noticed that in my post-modern piece of rubbish, the women end up turning out flawed (or at least I tried to make them such) and also the relationships never turn out perfect. In fact they all end up breaking up with the main character (and at times even outright rejecting him). Still, when I began writing it, it was during one of the stages in my life that I had rejected my upbringing, yet still had those Christian ethics written on my heart: I say this because I hung around a group of hedonistic friends who would sleep around in an almost incestuous manner (there is something about sleeping with a friend's ex-girlfriend that simply did not seem right with me) yet I would never seem to actually want to jump into bed with them, but rather simply dream about it (which was much better in a way because in the dream world everything tends to work out, which doesn't happen in the real world).

However, ten years on from when I first began writing that book my thoughts and attitudes have changed, but maybe that is because aspects of my life have changed. One thing is that I now live interstate, somewhat disconnected from the people that I once knew and building relationships with a new group of people in a new church. While things may, in many cases, be the same, the fact that I no longer have those old crutches to lean on, and am no longer trapped in that box of 'I know what he is like' has somewhat liberated me from the past. Even those people that seem to what to chain me up again and dictate my personality to me have failed over here.