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An honest assessment of WOT?


Jon Fossaway

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The whole 'pillow friends' thing would have worked better if it hadn't come out of nowhere in Book 9. I don't think it was mentioned even once in any book prior to that at all.

To be fair I don't think the whole 'pillow friends' thing was included for titillation purposes, I think Jordan was trying to include a few more adult themes in the series.

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To be fair I don't think the whole 'pillow friends' thing was included for titillation purposes, I think Jordan was trying to include a few more adult themes in the series.

Suddenly injecting adult themes in a series that had not had any previously seems a little bit off. It smells of desperation. It would be like having the Harry Potter kids suddenly start talking about Ms. Granger's experiences as a Lipstick Lesbian. It just does not fit. I think that is what makes it so jarring. Just imagine if GRRM suddenly decided to clean up the language and situations in aDwD. If Tyrion suddenly stops cursing, and people start holding hands instead of f^#%ing it would throw the readers off.

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I don't know if the specific term was used before Book 9 (I actually think it was), but there were lots of hints about it before that.

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The whole 'pillow friends' thing would have worked better if it hadn't come out of nowhere in Book 9. I don't think it was mentioned even once in any book prior to that at all.

I'm pretty sure Elaida mentions that Moiraine and Siuan were pillow friends as Novices and Accepted. I remember being extremely surprised that Siuan and Moiraine were bisexual.

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The whole 'pillow friends' thing would have worked better if it hadn't come out of nowhere in Book 9. I don't think it was mentioned even once in any book prior to that at all.

It didn't come out of nowhere. If you have readed the books correctly than you could know what it meant before book 9. Jordan only spelled it out more clearly in book 9 what it meant....

For example book 8:

She smiled at Seaine and Pevara, a monarch perhaps unsure how gracious she should be. “I saw the pair of you sniffing about like ferrets at the hencoop,†she said, “but I held my tongue - you might be pillow-friends, for all I know, and whose business is that but yours?â€

- The Path of Daggers, The Extra Bit

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My problem with the homosexual activity (note that with iirc one exception there is little or any suggestion of actual lesbianism, in an orientation sense - it seems to be situational, which is probably realistic for an isolationist all-female misoandrist organisation) is that it started off being minor (a couple of characters here and there, and hinted at delicately); then suddenly it seems that it's absolutely every aes sedai ever and it's talked about openly and fairly explicitly. I'd have had no problem with the 'some people experimented when they were younger, let's not talk about it'; I could even have accepted 'the White Tower is actually a giant lesbian sex palace with nightly spanking orgies and everybody knows this' (because let's face it, cultic institutions can get pretty weird relative to the morality in the surrounding society) - but the sudden change seemed silly.

Along with the exponential increase in spanking, I did rather feel that Jordan was just living out his fantasies.

[Oddly, I didn't feel that so much with the polygamy - to me, that seemed like an imaginative approach to resolving the conventional romantic di(tri-)lemma, subverting reader' expectation. That was then delivere in an incredibly shallow and unconvincing manner]

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My problem with the homosexual activity (note that with iirc one exception there is little or any suggestion of actual lesbianism, in an orientation sense - it seems to be situational, which is probably realistic for an isolationist all-female misoandrist organisation) is that it started off being minor (a couple of characters here and there, and hinted at delicately); then suddenly it seems that it's absolutely every aes sedai ever and it's talked about openly and fairly explicitly. I'd have had no problem with the 'some people experimented when they were younger, let's not talk about it'; I could even have accepted 'the White Tower is actually a giant lesbian sex palace with nightly spanking orgies and everybody knows this' (because let's face it, cultic institutions can get pretty weird relative to the morality in the surrounding society) - but the sudden change seemed silly.

I think you could perhaps make an argument about all the spanking but to be honest with the lesbian relationships I don't think this is the case, it's hardly gone into in any explicit detail.

I think Jordan had just been asked about the 'pillow friends' thing repeatedly and felt that it was better to be clear about what he was talking about, to be perfectly honest even once it was explicitly clear the characters were referring to lesbian relationships it only comes up two or three times that I recall.

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My problem with the homosexual activity (note that with iirc one exception there is little or any suggestion of actual lesbianism, in an orientation sense - it seems to be situational, which is probably realistic for an isolationist all-female misoandrist organisation) is that it started off being minor (a couple of characters here and there, and hinted at delicately); then suddenly it seems that it's absolutely every aes sedai ever and it's talked about openly and fairly explicitly. I'd have had no problem with the 'some people experimented when they were younger, let's not talk about it'; I could even have accepted 'the White Tower is actually a giant lesbian sex palace with nightly spanking orgies and everybody knows this' (because let's face it, cultic institutions can get pretty weird relative to the morality in the surrounding society) - but the sudden change seemed silly.

Along with the exponential increase in spanking, I did rather feel that Jordan was just living out his fantasies.

[Oddly, I didn't feel that so much with the polygamy - to me, that seemed like an imaginative approach to resolving the conventional romantic di(tri-)lemma, subverting reader' expectation. That was then delivere in an incredibly shallow and unconvincing manner]

I asked Jordan about this on his last tour (and I really mean, last) because I felt the same as everyone here. This whole business of "pillow-friends" seemed to become incredibly more prevalent in the later books. He said something to the effect that Aes Sedai are afraid to take non-channelers as mates due to the fact of having to watch their family and children die (due to the nature of an Aes Sedai's expanded lifespan). Add in the Taint and it makes a great deal of sense why "pillow-friends" are, uh, widespread in the Tower. That being said, Jordan added that most of the Aes Sedai grew out of it, mainly having "pillow-friends" during their early years at the Tower.

He spent a few good minutes answering me, I was surprised.

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http://idealseek.no-ip.com/IdealSeek.cgi?q=pillow+friends

Looks like "pillow-friends" are only referenced in four chapters in the main series, and once in New Spring. Hardly over-the-top, although somewhat abrupt. In KoD, it is claimed that "pillow friends were common among novices and Accepted," though we get no hints of this the entire time that Supergirls were novices and Accepted.

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I'm pretty sure Elaida mentions that Moiraine and Siuan were pillow friends as Novices and Accepted. I remember being extremely surprised that Siuan and Moiraine were bisexual.

This was in the novel version of New Spring, which came after Winter's Heart (although as pointed out the first mention was in Path of Daggers, which I'd forgotten). In the short story version Cadsuane says it and Moiraine gets enraged, which led me to the conclusion she and Siuan had used it as a cover story for them to spend a lot of time together whilst working on the hunt for the Dragon Reborn. However, the novel version makes it clear they were, if not exactly in a relationship, than certainly 'experimenting' at the time.

http://idealseek.no-ip.com/IdealSeek.cgi?q=pillow+friends

Looks like "pillow-friends" are only referenced in four chapters in the main series, and once in New Spring. Hardly over-the-top, although somewhat abrupt. In KoD, it is claimed that "pillow friends were common among novices and Accepted," though we get no hints of this the entire time that Supergirls were novices and Accepted.

There is other terminology for it as well. Shalon's POV chapter in WH pretty much focuses on it for about half its length, and there are quite a few references to it in KoD with one of the rebel spies suggesting she'll try to restart her relationship with Elaida and another Aes Sedai recalling Elaida's interest in her with disdain: seriously, as well as being bad Elaida has to be 'flexible' as well? I suppose Siuan and Moiraine balance that out, but adding homosexual tendencies to 'bad' characters is a bit cliched these days, although I suppose it makes more sense for Red Ajah sisters than others.

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I asked Jordan about this on his last tour (and I really mean, last) because I felt the same as everyone here. This whole business of "pillow-friends" seemed to become incredibly more prevalent in the later books. He said something to the effect that Aes Sedai are afraid to take non-channelers as mates due to the fact of having to watch their family and children die (due to the nature of an Aes Sedai's expanded lifespan). Add in the Taint and it makes a great deal of sense why "pillow-friends" are, uh, widespread in the Tower. That being said, Jordan added that most of the Aes Sedai grew out of it, mainly having "pillow-friends" during their early years at the Tower.

He spent a few good minutes answering me, I was surprised.

Makes perfect sense. Would have made perfect sense in book 1, too. Makes less sense when it's suddenly retrospectively the case from book 9 onward.

On the 'explicit'ness, I didn't mean sex scenes. I meant that before book 9 there are hints, and suddenly in book 9 everyone says exactly what they mean - Werthead gives examples.

[Maybe it's just me, but I rather assumed about Moiraine and Siuan from fairly early on, and iirc there are some hints made about inappropriate friendships among some of the younger 'just here to get killed' sisters quite a way before PoD]

That's another thing that changed, incidentally - for most of the series, it seemed that it was something reprehensible, or at the very least embarrasing. But in WH, not only is there a name for it (which I assumed was only a passing euphemism originally, rather than accepted terminology), they speak about it openly, without it being much of a bad thing.

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There is other terminology for it as well. Shalon's POV chapter in WH pretty much focuses on it for about half its length, and there are quite a few references to it in KoD with one of the rebel spies suggesting she'll try to restart her relationship with Elaida and another Aes Sedai recalling Elaida's interest in her with disdain: seriously, as well as being bad Elaida has to be 'flexible' as well? I suppose Siuan and Moiraine balance that out, but adding homosexual tendencies to 'bad' characters is a bit cliched these days, although I suppose it makes more sense for Red Ajah sisters than others.

To be fair the only explicitly 'evil' character who is shown to have homosexual tendencies is Galina, even Elaida while not entirely pleasant is not really evil. I don't really have a problem with one of the 'bad' characters being homosexual, there isn't any suggestion that being homosexual is related to negative characteristics.

With regard to the whole Shalon issue I think the focus was really on how the Aes Sedai were willing to use something they personally didn't view as a problem to manipulate people rather than Shalon's sexual tendencies being focused on to an unnecessary degree.

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Why didn't the term Pillow Friends appear until later in the books?? Well the answer to that is quite simple:

This relationship is common among the Aes Sedai, and we dont get especially many Aes Sedai POVs until later in the series. Well we do get Siuan and Moiraines POVs in the beginning, but they are to focused on their quest to think about anything else. And the powergirls visits the tower in the first books, but they seem to keep to themselves, and they are all heterosexual. Add to that the fact that they dont spend as much time in the tower, and you get a good explanation why Pillow Friends appear so late in the books...

And didn't we see Galina attracted to another Aes Sedai as early as in Lord Of Chaos?? A book that was released as early as 1994. So NO there is no "conspiracy" in how Robert Jordan wrote about Pillow Friends in his books, as some of you guys imply, and there is nothing "sinister" about it... :P

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For those of you who think Jordan is living out his fantasy's read Fallon Blood (written as Reagan O'Neil). When he lives out his fantasies it is much more graphic than the allusions to lesbianism or love quadrangle in WoT.

For a vast majority of the series you would barely know that men and women have sex in Randland.

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For a vast majority of the series you would barely know that men and women have sex in Randland.

I read the first 7 or so books and this was my understanding of the series. I'm quite surprised that there was any subtext at all; I certainly missed it.

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I read the first 7 or so books and this was my understanding of the series. I'm quite surprised that there was any subtext at all; I certainly missed it.

Huh, I never got that vibe at all. Or rather, I got the vibe that Two-Rivers people (and Andorans in general) were considered really prudish by other people, and since these are the POV's we mostly get, they tend to miss out on the subtext.

I never got the "Randland is completely asexual" thing that some people claim, not even in the first few books.

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  • 2 months later...

...Eye of the World. I've read it once and gone no further with the WoT. I'm out of new books at the moment (other than a couple that have been sitting on my shelf for a long while that I'm just not feeling right now). So I'm giving Jordan a go again.

Any advice?

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