Wheel of Time series book covers.

Robert Jordan versus J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien’s world is rather sweet.

It’s simplistic. This simpleness stems from Tolkien dislike of industrialization.
You see it throughout his books. Machines are always evil. Surrounded by fire and gruesome creatures. They’re destructive.
Evil machines and creatures destroy the old forest for their nefarious schemes.

Tolkien’s books end up creating a simple world of good and evil. One that’s easy to understand. You have the good creatures of middle earth with their inherent magic, and then you have the evil creatures with their fires and machines.

And it’s a struggle between the two! It’s so easy to understand. Of course people love it.

But Robert Jordan took Tolkien’s world and flipped it all around.
Instead of machines and buildings and industrialization being pure evil… In Robert Jordan’s books they’re forces of good.

They helped better people’s lives and helped the forces of the light fight the shadow. The forces of the light even took great care to ensure the shadow never got its hands on their machines (the dragons).

And it doesn’t stop there, Robert Jordan took great effort to show all of humanity for what it was. Neither good nor evil. His books went beyond the simplistic choice of good or evil.
The “evil” people did good things.
The “good” people did bad things.
There was a balance.
For there can be no darkness without the light.
The savior of the world, the Dragon, in all his incarnations was a flawed being.
The Forsaken, supposedly evil, healed people. Fought for good. And even turned back to the light in some senses.
This is the real world. Full of flawed people who sometimes make poor choices, as well as sometimes making wonderful choices.
This depth, this showing of humanity, is what makes Robert Jordan’s world so much better than Tolkien’s.

One thought on “Robert Jordan versus J.R.R. Tolkien”

  1. This is oversimplified. Yes, Jordan can show on an action by action level good people can do bad things and bad people can do good things. Tolkien, however, sticks with a hard truth. Evil is evil and good is good. There is black in white in our world. One act doesn’t pay for all. In reality, Tolkien’s world isn’t simplistic enough. People are inherently evil and must strive to do good. Even then it’s not enough.

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