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3.11: On similarities between The Wheel of Time and other SF (including Dune)

[Michael Nielsen, Pam Korda]

People frequently point out similarities between Jordan and other authors. A common example is to point out parallels between Frank Herbert's Dune series and The Wheel of Time -- similarities between Rand and Paul Atreides, for example.

First, note that in a series as large and complex as The Wheel of Time (or Dune), parallels with such an enormous variety of literature can be found that pointing out parallels (particularly if they are common to many sources) can be fairly pointless. In the interest of avoiding endless "RJ ripped off author X"/"Author X ripped off RJ" arguments, we present the following:

  1. Many of the similarities between Jordan and other authors can be explained on the basis of the use of common source materials. Certain motifs, themes, etc. have a very long and rich history in literature. For example, messiah figures (such as Rand) and powerful mystical / priesthood castes (such as the Aes Sedai) have appeared in an enormous number of literary and historical guises over periods of thousands of years.

  2. Jordan is not copying or "ripping off" other authors, as has sometimes been stated on the group. Using common source materials does not imply copying: he transforms and embellishes old ideas from a diverse range of sources (which he has freely acknowledged), and sometimes innovates. The way all these different elements relate is unique to Jordan, since no other author uses the same range of elements.

    The only direct influence we know Jordan has acknowledged is Tolkien: "The only deliberate connection between WOT and any other modern fantasy was giving the first 100-odd pages of TEOTW a Lord of the Rings-esque flavor, to start people off in familiar territory." [from Dublin talk, 11/93, Emmet O'Brien]

    For example, Rand losing a hand doesn't mean that RJ got the idea from Tolkien (Frodo and Beren both lose parts of their hand), or George Lucas, or S.R. Donaldson, any more than Lucas or Donaldson copied from Tolkien. Rather, all four authors most likely got the idea from the Norse god Tew.

  3. While there are similarities, there are also great differences. Paul Atreides and Rand may both be Messiah figures, but they are remarkably different in a multitude of ways, many of them crucial to the story.

Dune Similarities

Many parallels between Dune and the Wheel of Time have been noted. Some of the more important similarities include:

Tolkien References

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The Wheel of Time FAQ. Copyright 2004 by Leigh Butler, Pamela Korda and Erica Sadun. HTML implementation by Leigh Butler. This site maintained by Pam Korda (pam@linuxmafia.com). Comments and questions regarding the content itself should be directed to Leigh Butler (leighdb@pacbell.net).