A cyclical story with a western mindset

The Dragon Reborn - Robert Jordan

Well, this is the third instalment of a 12 book series and while one may suggest that it begins to pick up around here, I must say that the series was not that engrossing that it actually kept me reading beyond book seven. Okay, it sort of held me for a while but it ended up getting to a point where the books seemed to be going nowhere. I remember reading somewhere (most likely in an author's preface) that Robert Jordan loved writing and wanted to keep writing until the day he died (which he did, and didn't get to finish the series) however what seemed to have happened here was that he became so caught up in his world and in the characters that he had populated the world with (and that people continued to read the books, even right to the end) that he simply could not stop. In a way, Jordan had become addicted to his own writing.

The thing about the Wheel of Time, as can be ascertained from the title of the series, and also from the title of this book, is that the universe that Jordan has created (which is no doubt based upon his own understanding of the universe in which we live) is that everything is cyclical. As such there is really, in effect, no end to the series because the idea would be that once the series reaches its end it goes back to the beginning. Obviously, with the speed (or lack of) of Jordan's novels, to actually have the series go through all of the ages would suggest that there will probably be over 100 books in the series, which in the end (as it turned out) would have been impossible for Jordan to accomplish.

However, despite the cyclical nature of Jordan's universe, the story itself is very teleological in nature. There is a definite beginning and the story seems to move forward to a definite end. The world itself is supposed to be cyclical in nature but it appears that Jordan is unable to escape from the teleological mindset of our Western society. One of the problems is that because we have a western, Judeo-Christian, mindset we automatically have a teleological mindsent. Christian world view has a definite beginning and a definite end and does not operate in the same way as Eastern mysticism which sees the world work its way through cycles of over 100 000 years a piece. In a sense even our modern Atheistic worldview is teleological in nature in that we are born, we live, and we die. There is no concept of reincarnation, unless of course you exist within one of those spiritualist fringe groups. If you are Christian, or at least hold to the Western civic religion, you no doubt believe that you are born, you live, and then die and go to heaven (or hell if you are bad enough).

Writing a story, or a novel, that attempts to break from this tradition is hard enough because, in a sense, a story always have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I have read a story which seemed to be cyclical in nature since there was no standard time frame through which the story moved – instead it jumped back and forth between the beginning and the end, and would in turn focus on certain aspects of the story as it moved to the centre. Once again Jordan's stories do not operate in this sense in that we are constantly moving towards a certain point, an end point in the story, in which all conflicts have been resolved and the characters live 'happily ever after'.

Source: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/704522316