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Old 19th February 2008, 05:31 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Janny Wurts and character development

From a literary standpoint, Janny Wurts is superlative when it comes to character development. Each of the major players is finely drawn and in a long running series, this is no mean feat. Most books in a series this long seem to become watered down and cumbersome even by the middle of the series (dare I mention Robert Jordan?) In the fantasy genre, it becomes harder and harder to find good fantasy that isn't derivative. It's good to have something to read that has some meat to it.
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Old 20th February 2008, 12:24 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

Moved to GB section...
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Old 20th February 2008, 02:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

Cerigwen, you have nailed it on the head. With Janny's last book, I was most impressed by the development of supporting characters. To see how Dakar, The Mad Prophet, has changed since Ships of Merior is absolutely startling. However, the change, in hindsight, was gradual and barely perceived at the time. By the end of Stormed Fortress, the transformation is incredible.

Also, Sulfin Evend's development has been perhaps the most intriguing. This is much discussed on Janny's website. First introduced in Fugitive Prince, he has come to be Lysaer's right-hand man without being a sycophant, and he has tremendous potential for the resolution of the main story line of the series.

And these are just two. There are so many others that grow in this series. None of them stay the same, which is a feat. They are not stale and wooden, or derivative in any way.
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Old 20th February 2008, 05:01 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

I agree with both of you. Janny is by far one of the best authors, when it comes to character development. Like you said, Clansman, she develops supporting characters as well as main characters.

I must say I am most intrigued by the development of Morriel Prime. To see how she has changed from Curse of the Mist Wraith is totally jaw dropping.

And so it is true with all of Janny's characters. Never a dull moment!!!
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Old 20th February 2008, 08:03 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

I also agree. While many authors use the barest outline of a character, Janny fleshes them out fully.
I am impressed by the development of both the Koriani enchantresses, and of the Fellowship of Seven. These two groups could so easily have just been another organisation of evil witches, or a gathering of old, wise wizards. Instead Janny has given us individuals, who we actually care about, and are all waiting to see where the narrative takes them.
I would never have imagined Davien the Betrayer could have come so far, when first his name was mentioned in Curse of the Mistwraith.
Can't wait for the next arc, and see what new information is revealed.
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Old 21st February 2008, 02:29 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

I agree about Sulfin Evend. He started, I think, as a rather secondary character, but now he is definitely central to Lysaer's future. He has become one of my favorite characters. I really feel that you can get a sense that you know her characters. The ways in which they develop are realistic, sometimes for the good and sometimes they get a little lost, but their actions always make sense in the larger context of the personalities that she has written for them.
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Old 21st February 2008, 03:45 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thumbs up Re: Janny Wurts and character development

Add me to the bandwagon (and let's hope that it actually becomes a bandwagon, at that). The thing I like the most about her works is that nothing is left at "eye candy" as she puts it. The seemingly most insignificant references return chapters and even books later to become relevant in her plots, sub-plots, sub-sub-plots, sub-sub-sub....well, you get the picture!
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Old 25th February 2008, 10:30 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

This kind of fantasy is the stuff that really gives the reader something to chew on. You see similar complexity in GRR Martin and in Erikson. However, they don't seem to have the foresight that Wurts does. There are little hints in Fugitive Prince, which is the first book of the third story arc, that are brought forward four books later in the Arc's conclusion, namely Stormed Fortress, which was released just a few months ago.

I have seen this done in another genre, namely spy/action stuff, especially by Tom Clancy and John Le Carre, but it is done only inside of one book, instead of between them. In The Sum of All Fears (WAAAAAAY better than the crappy movie of the same name) I remember a tree from Oregon that is destined to become part of a temple in Japan figuring largely in how close the US came to nuclear war with the USSR (as it then was). It was followed here and there throughout the book, until it almost destroys a missile submarine in the middle of the Pacific.

Wurts does this over huge spans of writing. Nothing in her writing is by accident, so it is to the reader's benefit that they really pay attention. While reading Stormed Fortress I refused to pick up the book unless I had at least an hour to spend, uninterrupted. Otherwise, I was left hanging at a poor place to put the thing down.

This is why I like reading Wurts, Martin, Williams, Erikson, Jones, etc, and not Eddings or Goodkind. A reader should be challenged, not cosseted.
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Old 26th February 2008, 04:01 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

I agree, although my children rarely let me have the hour-long excursions into books nowadays; I have to settle for the half-hour variety....

Also, is it just me, or did the dreaded flood of postings from others disgusted by JW's lack of a US publisher fail to materialize...maybe I'm looking in the wrong place!!! (Just a gentle dig back at those responsible for my "back-handed welcome"...I do concur with the reasons behind it, however, and sincerely hope you'll tolerate me a while longer, as your site is excellent!)
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Old 29th March 2008, 01:27 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

Sorry, were we all supposed to chime in about how short sighted American publishers can be? Lost their minds, lacking in sense? Stupid even?

Hopefully all Janny fans over there in the US can get there hands on an copy from an international source. However it must make it difficult for new readers to get into Janny's work if they aren't seeing the new titles on the shelves of the local bookstores.

I am grateful that the publishers of the British Editions (which are the versions available here in Australia, and in New Zealand, etc) are supporting Janny, and hope they keep up the good work.
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Old 29th March 2008, 03:17 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

Yep. That would be most of our publishers, all right, but have to acknowledge other comments about computer driven future sales calculations, co-mingled with poor timing of Meisha Merlin's demise, etc. Double yep on the need to use an international source. Wouldn't fancy trying this about 12 years ago, but then JW's current (at the time!) stuff was readily available here in the States, so I didn't need to!

My actual "dreaded flood of postings" reference here had to do with the concern that Chrons would be suddenly (if temporarily) flooded with new "members" who registered only for the purpose of complaining about JW's lack of a US publisher, or who clamored for a Janny sub-forum without the non-artificial, prerequisite ( as I have been schooled ) persistent discourse that focused on Janny's work first.

I absolutely agree that such a situation would be a poor use of this site, and would detract from the overall experience the site affords those who use it, however frequently or infrequently. Looking back at it a month later (and without the benefit of a site administrator's, or even moderator's tools/access) it would seem that there were about 4 or 5 of us who joined around the time the concern was voiced (no way to know for sure how many found and joined because of the postings on Janny's site, of course!). If I may take such liberties, most of us seem to have, as Teresa notes, settled in somewhat. Personal perspective here, of course, but I would add that we seem to be behaving ourselves.

OK, JD, Teresa and everyone else who's tired of seeing this one, I truly promise to shut up this time (at least on this topic ), and will try to resist future such temptations...
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Old 31st March 2008, 05:13 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

Me too. Not wanting to hijack the thread, isn't this supposed to be about character development?

We have opined above about how good it is, but what about examples? Just thought I'd throw that out for you to chew on!
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Old 1st April 2008, 10:09 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

Warning, this post may contain possible minor spoilers for the Wars of Light and Shadows:

Sulfin Evend and Dakar are very good examples of how characters have evolved through the course of this series (and have been mentioned earlier). I also have mentioned how Davien has come very far from his initial appearance/mentionings.

Mearn s'Brydion is another character that has developed significantly since the introduction of his character in Ships of Merior.
From being the youngest (and perhaps most cunning) of the four s'Brydion brothers, who are actively developing gun powder weapons when we first encounter them, through the vengeful hunting of Arithon in Vastmark, and then the years as ducal emissary at Avenor, to his marriage (and the changes it has brought him), the siege of Alestron (he was the only brother wise enough to leave when Arithon used Alithiel to allow the opportunity), and now his survival in the free wilds (by the end of Stormed Fortress), his character has matured and evolved in ways that have surprised me.
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Old 1st April 2008, 12:33 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

SPOILERS ***

I really like what JW has done with the character of Lysaer - he may be the "baddie" but who can condemn him outright? If Arithon has a failing as a character he's a bit too perfect. Lysaer is not only likeable, but his character flaws are ones you can really relate to. And despite those flaws, despite the Mistwraith's curse hitting him where he has the least defence, he still tries to see the world clearly, and himself clearly, and be the leader the people need him to be. Not that he succeeds all the time - but he tries. I love that sequence in Stormed Fortress where Arithon uses Alithiel to bring Lysaer back to himself, and Lysaer doesn't shrink from it. I love how after all his failures, both tactically and as a husband and father, he still tries to stand up and do the right thing. I can't wait to see how it turns out for Lysaer, I honestly can't guess which way it will go for him - will he manage to save himself (with Sulfin Evend's help, I guess)? Will Arithon save him? Or will he completely succumb and lose himself to the curse entirely? I hope not. He's a tough fellow and I'd hate to see him go down after all his struggles.
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Old 1st April 2008, 02:48 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Janny Wurts and character development

SOME MILD SPOILERS BELOW, BUT NO BIGGIES.

Lysaer will perhaps be the most important character to develop in the next story arc, Sword of the Canon. I have always felt sympathy for the character, for he suffers from a kind of insanity. However, my sympathy wained to its lowest ebb and almost vanished with the treatment of his second wife on their wedding night.

The resolution of the story cannot occur without the redemption of Lysaer, which will be a monumental task of character development. I submit that Desh-Thiere cursed the brothers Arithon and Lysaer in Curse of the Mistwraith not because of what they did, but because of what they might do, unfettered by the geas of the mistwraith. Remember, the better part of Desh-Thiere lives on the splinter world of Marak...

AND IT IS COMING.

Lysaer's redemption will not be pretty, though, and I predict a very tragic ending for him. Janny Wurts does not do Hollywood endings, and as a result, somebody's gotta get it. It might as well be Lysaer, and then his false religion can make a martyr of him.

BTW, Arithon is not perfect. He has little or no charisma, and can be as prickly as a cactus. That's why Lysaer has the big following and Arithon doesn't. Lysaer is particularly good at soothing large numbers of people, cursed or uncursed. Arithon can only do that with his music, but when he does it, he does it really, really well.
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