Episode 1 | The One Where Gandalf Comes To Two Rivers

Welcome to the pilot episode of the WoTchers Podcast. In this episode, our intrepid authors discuss the first book of The Wheel of Time, Eye of the World, but they don’t get very far. Introductions are made, bona fides are shared, and the discussion begins in earnest about why some love this series, and some believe it is a typical fantasy knockoff.

Wherever you stand in your WoT fandom, we think you’ll enjoy the lively discussion and debate around the fantasy genre, tropes, and why these stories matter so much to us.

 

 

If you would like to join us as we read through, you can pick up the first book Eye of the World from Amazon, or listen to it from Audible like we are doing.

 

38 thoughts on “Episode 1 | The One Where Gandalf Comes To Two Rivers

  1. Having read through the series 10+ times you’ll see the style and scope of the series change drastically with book 2. There are a lot of things that aren’t consistent with book 1 that change in book 2 and then become consistent. I would call Robert Jordan a lazy writer in book 1 as you guys described (but didn’t actually call him that) in the podcast. A lot could have gone differently. I believe a lot of these problems araise through Jordan not knowing if this would be a stand alone book or if he would get a contract for the whole series. At least that is what I like to believe to help myself get through book 1 and the issues I see with it. There are elements and characters I hate and I hate their chapters throughout the whole series and wish they would go away but there is so much that I still love about this series that keeps me coming back for more. I’m not typically a fan of fandom podcasts or forums so I’m excited to hear your takes from the series. Thanks for starting this podcast and I look forward to listening to more.

  2. Hey Scott! Thanks for commenting and giving us thoughts. I’m now on book two, for what I guess is the second time—although, as I said in the show, I don’t remember any of it. I’m still finding the writing to be mind-numbing, but you’re right, the story has changed quite a bit and has, in some ways, negated some things from book one.

    I love the idea of this show transcending the line between fan and skeptic. I remain a skeptic, but in the highest and most positive regard. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts throughout and I know the other guys would too.

    Anything specific you’d like to hear discussed on the next show? We are still chewing on book one.

  3. I think an important thing to consider with Eye of the World, the Tolkienesque parallels are very intentional. It’s not so much that it’s uninspired, but as you mention with Sword of Shannara, that “toy box” was the expectation for fantasy at the time. You couldn’t really get published without doing so. While I enjoy Eye, I’m still quite thankful that he didn’t need to continue following that format after the first book.

    In Jordans writing, especially in the early books, it’s very dense with world building and descriptive text, but also with foreshadowing. It is one of the joys of the series is how much detail is layered in(to steal your words). I like to say that he wastes no words when it comes to world details, because even many seemingly unimportant details often are, or are parts of processes that neither the reader or the characters really understand yet.

    In your next show I’d like to hear you guys talk about Ta’veren, Perrin and whether or not you figured out the 3 times the ‘chosen one’ channelled, and what the reaction was.

    Also, to answer your question about the “why didn’t she do that first?” They are being tracked from the air by the Draughkar at that time, making that not really worthwhile. They actually had managed to get ahead of the curve when they were at the Inn in Bearlon, and were found not through their trail, but through something else. Recall the rats with broken backs.

    I’m really enjoying this podcast so far, thank you as well.

    1. Nick! My man! Those are some great comments for sure. I love the ideas for the next episode and we will make it happen. I remembered the Draughkar after the show ended, but part of the joy of this podcast is the freedom to experience the books as first time readers. I’m glad you listened and saw that we weren’t just flippantly claiming this to be a Tolkien ripoff. The fear, with making a satirical episode title, is that people will just assume we are writing it off. The truth is, there are a ton of parallels throughout, but that’s to be expected for the times and doesn’t necessarily take away from the series at large.

      Thanks again for the comment, we hope you keep moving along with us.

  4. Do you guys use the ‘125% speed’ while listening audiobooks ? Helped me cut down alot of time when re-listening WoT and Malazan on audiobooks ?

  5. You guys should do A LOT more research before you make a second episode.

    -There is a ton of non-Tolkien fantasy that predates Wheel of Time. You guys have a serious pile of required reading.
    -Eye of the World was published in June, 1990. It would be a stretch to call a series “from the 80s” when only the first book is from the last year of the 80s.
    -Dungeons and Dragons came out in 1974

  6. You guys need to do A LOT more research before episode two:

    -Eye of the World was published in June, 1990. It would be a stretch to call a series “from the 80s” when only the first book is from the last year of the 80s
    -You hand wave away a ton of fantasy literature. If you are truly so unfamiliar with non-Tolkien fantasy of the 60s, 70s, and 80s then you have a large pile of required reading ahead of you.
    -Dungeons and Dragons came out in 1974.

    1. AHelpfulSoul, Thanks!

      I think we made it pretty clear that we were fuzzy on the release date of D&D, so I’m not concerned there at all. And knowing how long it takes to write a book, I think it’s safe to say Eye of the World was an 80s masterpiece! However, you’re right! 90s series it is! We aren’t Jordan fanboys, not in the least, so we are commenting as readers, not experts and I hope that’s part of the fun.

      As far as all the fantasy released post Tolkien, we agree, there were many! But honestly, none that come close to the scale of Jordan, Tolkien, Martin, etc. I think we are talking about major epics when we make those references, but maybe we need to be more clear. Thank you for listening, and we honestly welcome the feedback.

  7. Excellent pod cast. I can’t wait for the next one. Started listening to the WoT and will try to catch up. It’s been years since I read the first 8 books.

  8. Promising beginning, I’m looking forward for more specific discussions after this broad introduction.

    Please listen to the interview at the end of the audiobook (Laura Wilson of Audio Renaissance with Robert Jordan). It’s particularly interesting considering the review touching on characters’ communication issues.

    As someone who has read the series multiple times: you cannot fathom how much you’ve already missed. Both obvious and low-key foreshadowing in this series are top-notch, and the second read-through is even better!

    Enjoy the ride! It will be fun seeing this through a new reader’s eyes again.

    – a fellow Sanderson fanboy

    PS: thanks to the Wheel of Time Reddit community (r/wot) for directing me here! And thanks at the three of you for doing this!

    1. Tim! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, the first episode was unusually broad, but we thought it would be nice to introduce ourselves and let folks know where we were coming from. There’s lots of specific discussion coming, and Josh will be happy to have a fellow Sandersonphile out there.

  9. I mostly agree with your opinions on the first book here.

    About your 80s and Tolkien comments. They are definitely true, after I read the first book my first thought was that this was a Tolkien rip-off. But the series doesn’t remain that way, reading it is like going on a journey from 80s fantasy to something starting to resemble modern fantasy. The impression I get is that the first book is what he had to write to get this series published, and a couple of books in as he was more secure in his ability to get published he started writing more what he wanted to write. Later on it definitely feels a lot more modern and more original than the first book does. You will see for yourselves I suppose.

    You mention looking out for details that might become important later, and there definitely is a lot of that in the first book. If you re-read the first book after finishing the series you will constantly finding yourself thinking things like “ohh this is setup for that thing in book 7, I didn’t remember that being brought up this early”. A lot of things in the first book that seem insignificant at first glance ends up being significant at some point. But you’re not going to spot most of it when reading trough for the first time, and I don’t think you’re meant to.

    You also mentioned PoV hopping, and how there’s not a lot of it. That’s a good example of how this series becomes more modern as it goes on, because that will change. I think the popularity of the practice in modern fantasy can be traced back to WoT, also making it a good example of how influential the series has been. You will end up seeing this world from every perspective imaginable before you’re done. According to a wiki there are 147 unique PoVs trough the series, and many of them are reoccurring PoVs.

    I am a huge fan of the WoT, but I definitely don’t think it’s beyond criticism. Jordan had his strengths (writing characters that are interesting and distinctive, character development over time, world building, etc.) and weaknesses (pacing, knowing how to take a plot from where it is to where he wants it to end up, etc.), just like any author. The series is definitely not for everyone, but his strengths happen to coincide with the things I enjoy the most in reading. I think you also have a mind for keeping track of details to enjoy this series to the fullest, otherwise you will get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of characters, places and events that come up. No one will be able to keep track of all of it (I mean, there’s over a thousand named characters in the series) but if you pay attention to only the core characters and events I think you miss out on some things. I don’t think that’s a good or a bad thing, it’s just something that some people are going to enjoy and some are not. It does add a lot of depth to the world and the story, but it comes at a cost. I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts and opinions on all this when you get further along.

    I also have a question for you: What do you expect your release schedule to look like for this podcast? If you don’t have a set schedule, about how often do you think you’ll release episodes?

    1. Andreas,

      Thanks for listening! We are really excited to go deeper into this series and are really grateful for your insight. Our schedule will likely be weekly to bi-weekly. We’ve had a tremendously unexpected open-arm response to episode one, which’ll likely push us more toward once per week.

  10. Hank! That’s what I figured. Again, thanks for doing this 🙂

    And in case it was drowned by the wall of text: please consider listening to that interview at the end if you haven’t already.

    Also, sorry about all those language mistakes (I’ll blame typing on mobile :P). I’ll probably be pretty active in future discussions, and there will be more of those.

    1. I just listened to it today as I wrapped up my listen to book one. Jaime had listened to it before and I think Josh is almost there. Thank you for the great comments!

  11. To be fair to the WoTchers, Jordan would have been writing in the 80’s to get tEotW published in 1990. 😉

  12. I just wanted to let you guys know that I really look forward to this podcast. I have listened to others that were serious letdown but I think you guys might be able to do it justice from your writing experience. I have gone through the series more than 3x now and i find something new each time. As new readers to the series I look forward to hearing your opinions change, which it likely will if you stick with it. I also enjoy listening to a hundred plus audiobooks/yr, this one never get a old. You have just unknowingly committed to reading the whole series through at least 2 more times after this, because that’s about how many it will take to thoroughly grasp everything that is going on and you likely will want to anyway.

    I also realy enjoy the Stormlight Archive, but I can’t rank it as high as the Wheel of Time.

  13. Wow. I really wanted to like this… The entire podcast is the three of you complaining about not having the attention span for a series of this pace and breadth. Well guys maybe this wasn’t the right project for you. You can be critical and trust me there is plenty to be critical of in this series without repeating that tired old complaint. I had to stop myself from a long rant of comment. The quick and short of it is this a huge series and not every action will get an in depth and immediate explanation. Jordan is a fantastic writer and with the exception of a few although very frustrating instances there is a reason behind most action or lack of action in the books.

    1. Thanks for listening! Honestly, that was absolutely the point of this episode: initial reactions. The reason we are doing this is to force ourselves to read something we’ve all wanted to read. 14 massive books is a huge undertaking and we are all voracious readers. When you can read a whole series in the amount of time it takes to read one or two books, that’s a commitment.

      We just finished recording episode two, and we are beyond intial reactions. We are digging in and that episode will be out Friday.

  14. A lot of your choices here are at best thoughtless and poorly informed/lacking in knowledge about the history and context of the series, you don’t seem to have even done basic research or thought this out well. Overall this comes across as a cynical attempt to self promote to the WoT fandom, while making no effort to really involve yourselves in it.

    1. I’m not sure if you missed the point of this particular podcast or not, but the WHOLE POINT of this podcast is to talk about the series from a first time readers point of view, not from an experienced and learned perspective of having immersed ourselves in the lore.

      We’re not trying to promote anything. Our only interest is reading the series and talking about it.

      1. You can be a first time reader and still be informed and familiar with the basics and issues involved so that they can inform and improve your own work. A total lack of preparation is just sloppy, and isn’t fun to listen to.

        I’m not talking about the lore of the books, as much as I am the social context of the times of the publication, e.g. you talk about Moiraine, but never even touch on how Jordan constantly plays with gender tropes in fantasy even back to the beginning of book 1 – which was a massive deal at the time, and what went on around Jordan’s publication of the series in particular – he very deliberately sold the series as a LOTR type story, to get it made, but constantly played around with the themes and tropes, until he was given the ok to write as he wished – you’ll notice a huge change in tone from book 4 for that reason. It’s hardly ruining what you’re doing to read the book, then do a little research and gather your thoughts, then make your podcast. It would improve the quality and relevance of your discussion significantly.

  15. Thanks for listening! Honestly, that was absolutely the point of this episode: initial reactions. The reason we are doing this is to force ourselves to read something we’ve all wanted to read. 14 massive books is a huge undertaking and we are all voracious readers. When you can read a whole series in the amount of time it takes to read one or two books, that’s a commitment.

    We just finished recording episode two, and we are beyond intial reactions. We are digging in and that episode will be out Friday.

  16. Found my way here from the WoT board on Reddit, gave it a listen, but I can’t help agree with a lot of the comments there. This isn’t offering anything new, there’s not a lot of thoughtful discussion (reading reviews from randoms? Come on – totally padding) and not including women or even bothering to discuss how ground breaking this series was in women’s representation in fiction/fantasy (and how much effort RJ and now Harriet puts into making sure women are included), which is really it’s major lasting impact on fantasy, makes this come across as really low effort and tone deaf.

    You keep saying the point is to go in blind, but you’re trying to appeal to an audience that isn’t. A little basic research and planning might have made these worth a listen, but ‘come hear three uninformed and completely unprepared guys talk about a book they know nothing about while ignoring major parts of the series’ isn’t as appealing as you seem to think it should be.

  17. lmao this is too funny. This is a joke right? A group composed entirely of straight, white guys getting together to declare a standout fatasy series for LGBT, racial and gender diversity and representaion dated? Without even going into how big and important this series was for that at the time of publucation?

    You’re going to have a gotcha moment next podcast where you talk about how this was devised to lampshade fatasy as a fandoms issues with minorities and women right? That would actually be clever.

    If not I hope somebody explains irony to you soon. Some self awareness and basic critical thinking skills are generally important for authors.

    1. Shoot, I knew we forgot something. Here it goes.

      To all those who desire to cast harsh judgments upon people they don’t even know: I do humbly apologize for being born white and straight. I’m sorry for enjoying books and having friends whom I enjoy discussing said books. Perhaps we should all line up and apologize for being born as we are?

      Chris, this is a read-through podcast discussing things as they happen. I am two books in and I’m yet to meet anyone who doesn’t seem to fit the same mold I do. Perhaps I missed that, but the very nature of this book series is that not everything is caught the first time through.

      I’d suggest an internal evaluation of what’s really bugging you, because you’ve decided to chime in on a completely free form of entertainment in which you are in no way obligated to participate or even listen to. We are, in fact, white people with successful writing careers, who have wives and children. We’ve not alluded to anything within this episode to infer our feelings toward anyone who is different from us in that regard, so I’d suggest the old adage, go and remove the plank from your eye before telling us about the speck in ours.

  18. I see you’re getting some negative comments about the blind nature of the podcast. I just wanted to say that for me that it’s the other way around – I highly enjoy that aspect of the podcast and for me I think it would be worse if you did more research.

    When looking for commentary on media I’ve already experienced (doesn’t matter if it’s a play-trough of a video game or youtube, or a book read-along podcast) I go out of my way to look for the first-timer’s perspective, because I find it interesting to hear what their thoughts are in the middle of the process and not just at the end when they already know everything. And hearing people speculating on the plot and analyzing what’s going on in a specific moment without knowing what’s next is the closest thing you can get to getting to experience it for the first time again yourself. Some things you won’t pick up on and that’s okay – that’s just the nature of going in blind.

    My ideal version of this podcast would be if you just read a couple of chapters at a time and then did a podcast episode knowing just what’s in those chapters – but of course that would be a far more ambitious and time-consuming project, so I wouldn’t expect that. Looking forward to the next episode!

    1. Andreas, thank you!

      The nature of anything like this is that people with other motives and agendas will cast their judgments without realized how bigoted they themselves are being.

      We preferred to do a blind commentary. We saw enough analyzing podcasts regarding this work, and instead, decided it would be fun to see just how wrong we are in our assessments of the series.

      Thank you for listening and encouraging us.

      New episode Friday!

    2. Thanks for the kind words, Andreas. I think you really get the spirit of the podcast, and yes, as we go through we will settle into what the show will ultimately be. Just like this is a blind read-through and we are discovering the books as we go, we are also discovering the show as we make it. We recorded the second show yesterday (it will be out at the end of the week), and we are settling into a pattern. Thanks for listening!

  19. First and Foremost, I havent listened yet as I am at work. I found this from the WoT reddit and am interested. I will comment on this post after I am done listening to episode 1.

    I am interested to see how this podcast goes. I am a die hard fan of this series, Ieven have a tattoo of it, but am always interested in other viewpoints and why. Depending on how the next few podcasts go will decide if I continue to watch.

    As for some of the hate you guys are getting. Oh well. You are three guys doing this as friends. It’s not my place to judge you for having a woman or not. It would be interesting to have guest judges sometimes. Maybe if you get popular enough you may even catch the attention of Harriet or Sanderson, which from the sound at least one of you would greatly enjoy.

    I assume you guys are going to continue and give the series an active chance. In the end that is all I can ask. Also beware the mid-series slump.

    1. Matthew, how dare you show up here with a fair-minded comment! 😉
      Welcome, and we welcome your feedback. The three of us are excited to get deep into the series. Our ideal situation is that we would fall in love with the series the way so many of our friends have.

  20. So I have just gotten done listening to the podcast and overall I think it has a lot of promise no it’s not perfect but most aren’t. I do really enjoy your guyses ability to play off each other and the communication skills you have. I am excited to hear you guys talk about the actual story point and stuff rather than just the introduction. As for why she didn’t do the ability at the beginning it is because using abilities will Tire you out and she was trying to save her energy like when they were leaving the two rivers and she helped take away the tiredness from everyone but she was completely exhausted.

    1. Thanks Matthew! Yeah, I actually had some responses to the “she should have done it,” but leaving it be is more fun. Why didn’t Gandalf bring eagles from the start? Fly all the way to Mordor? Why didn’t Dumbledore just keep Harry at Hogwarts? So many questions like this can be explained away, but it is what it is!

      New episode in the morning. We hope you enjoy!

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