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Nuggests in a gravel heap: The Wheel of Time Companion by "Team Jordan" Cannoli Send a noteboard - 09/11/2015 05:11:11 PM

It's a dictionary. That's it, and that's all. If you are a Wheel of Time devotee with abysmal reading comprehension, a near-total inability to retain any facts you read, and no deductive reasoning skills worth mentioning, this book is ideal for you. Which might explain the glowing review that Leigh Butler gave it on Tor.com.

This book is basically an expanded and comprehensive Glossary akin to those at the back of every WoT novel, so it includes all known details about everyone and everything to get an entry, up through the end of aMoL. There is some good stuff, like what appears to be a fairly comprehensive Old Tongue vocabulary, and there are grammar rules as well. The "Old Tongue" entry in my Kindle e-book goes from page 545 to 575, and I use small fonts, so they probably didn't skimp anything. I only have read A through C so far, on account of having a life, and skimmed through the rest of the pages looking for anything other than the giant glossary, with no luck. That longed-for (by other people at least) comprehensive list of channeler strengths does not seem to be in it, though each channeler's entry lists his or her strength as a numeric value. The "strength in the One Power" entry is two pages long and appears to give an explanation of those numbers, so the sort of people who find that stuff interesting can have the joy of compiling a hierarchical chart if they so wish.

Some of the entries have interesting little tidbits about the backgrounds of characters whose pasts were not explored in as much depth in the novels, and you will be able to look up the exact height and channeling strength of every significant character (and IMO, those two data are each precisely as interesting and relevant as the other, in both good & bad senses). There's a bunch of these sorts of things, and that's why I'm still pressing on, because it is kind of neat. For a sample of that kind of thing, the WoTMB has some early release entries posted not too long ago, and some of the stuff, while it could be guessed at or extrapolated with some effort, is just nice to see down in print. But wading through the dreck to get to it is kind of annoying.

There is the aforementioned Old Tongue stuff for the more linguistically minded, but the maps and illustrations are, in the case of the former, nothing we have not seen already, and in the case of the latter, not worth spending money on. Actually, there are a series of maps detailing the movement of the armies during the Last Battle at the final battlefield, just in case Sanderson's blow-by-blow description did not quell your interest, but it's just the map from aMoL with writing & boxes on it.

One of the annoyances I had with the BWB was how some sections had no new material, just a summation of details already revealed in the novels. The history parts and Forsaken biographies, and details of Seanchan were nearly all you could wish, but the parts about the Aiel or the wetlander nations were just padding. And that's how a lot of stuff is in this book, but leaning more towards rehashed filler, than previously undisclosed new gems.

For instance, back in tPoD, Rand questions Torval, IIRC, about some Black Tower stuff, and Taim's flunky assures Rand that his orders are given every day at "Morning Directives, after the Creed". Hmm. A Creed? Might that not be an interesting tidbit worth knowing? Sort of give you the Asha'man version of the Three Oaths maybe? Let's see what the Companion as to say.

"A statement of beliefs recited every morning at the Black Tower before Morning Directives."

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with these people?! Anyone who might possibly have the slightest incentive to look up the Creed of the Asha'man already knows every bit of detail in that stupid definition, because that is the exact phrase in which the Creed is mentioned for the only time, ever! If you know there is a Creed, but don't know that it is read before Morning Directives, you don't exist, because you could not have heard about the Creed without knowing the ONLY thing ANYONE knows about it! Why waste our time even putting that entry in there, if all you are going to do is paraphrase the context in which it was referenced for the only time ever?

This is the same problem I had with the BWB. The recapitulation of stuff explicitly stated in the novels (often in the exact same words) is superfluous for anyone sufficiently interested in, and invested in, the minutiae of the series and its world-building. If you care enough to read a book about the setting, you already know what an Aiel second-sister is, or how Mayene is dominated by Tear, or that the Cairhienin love intrigue. If need a reference book to know that stuff, you don't care enough to buy the book. This glorified glossary might have been useful to the casual fan who wants reminders for his re-read, but it is about as unhelpful in that regard as such a volume could be. See my note below regarding the Kindle edition.

Also, there are a lot things in there that serve as unfortunate reminders of the sorts of idiocy committed by Sanderson, like the name of a Deathwatch Guardsman who saves Tuon by catching an arrow out of the air. I had just about managed to forget that shit, too.

There is very little about this book that appears to be a reverent tribute to a beloved work, by a deceased author, and much support for the impression of a last cash grab before it fades in pop culture memory.

Special note regarding the Kindle version.
In the case of the Kindle, what is extremely annoying is that there is no linked Table of Contents. Or there is, but it reads, in its entirety: Title Page; Copyright Notice, Dedication, Introduction, Begin Reading, Illustration Credits, About the Authors, The Wheel of Time Series, Copyright. That's right. Eight bullshit entries, and ONE entry in the whole ToC that will take you to ANY relevant content! There is no index and no breakdown by even LETTER. You have the power to jump RIGHT to the thumbnail biographies of a bunch of people whose only relevance is due to a husband or colleague dying, or to the Copyright notice or to the Copyright itself, but heaven forbid they bother giving you the ability to jump to "O" to make looking up the Old Tongue a hair easier!

The only way to look something up in the e-book is to use the scroll bar or turn the pages one at a time, or else spend a lot of time typing names into the search function! And if you have a Windows device with all the shitty functionality of that platform's Kindle app, you can imagine how worthless that makes the conversion. The whole POINT of getting the e-book version of a pure reference work like this is convenience. It would actually be MORE convenient to look things up on a tree carcass version, by flipping the pages, which goes faster than on a Kindle, with the added ability to spot how far you've come! The book seems to take a very arbitrary rule on whether to list a character by last or first name, so if you go looking for Rand under "al'Thor" you get "see 'Rand al'Thor'". In a competently published e-book, there would be a link to take you directly there, but in this case, if you really want to read the entry on the main character, you have to skim to the R section by trial and error.

My sympathy for Mrs. Rigney in her legal difficulties with Red Eagle entertainment is rapidly plummeting. If she can't be bothered to give us a half-way decent e-book, how are we supposed to trust her with a TV show or movie? She's supposed to actually know something about books!

Cannoli
“Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions.” "Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity." GK Chesteron
Inde muagdhe Aes Sedai misain ye!
Deus Vult!
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This message last edited by Cannoli on 23/12/2015 at 03:45:55 PM
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Nuggests in a gravel heap: The Wheel of Time Companion by "Team Jordan" - 09/11/2015 05:11:11 PM 1137 Views
BTW, I put this here just to discuss it as a book review. We can discuss material on the WoT board *NM* - 09/11/2015 05:12:48 PM 243 Views
lots of traffic on that board. *NM* - 10/11/2015 04:38:13 PM 140 Views
Color me unsurprised. - 09/11/2015 05:58:58 PM 305 Views
That's a little unfair... - 24/12/2015 10:43:23 PM 271 Views
It has a 63% critical/negative review on Amazon right now. - 10/11/2015 03:32:04 PM 318 Views

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