Shards of Memory

Think about the nature of art. The nature of reaching back into the past and pulling out a story. We form stories out of our own thoughts and the thoughts in the mind of a creator are those from his experience and education. While reading the first book of The Wheel of Time series The Eye of the World I felt like I was looking back through many of the books and other forms of art I have experienced and viewing an origin point.

It is funny to say that about a book the was so heavily influenced by The Lord of the Rings that in its climatic scene the Dark One is destroyed in the foothills of the Mountains of Dhoom. There are clearly those influences but it is also very different. Magic is not treated as if it is a respected and normal part of life. Those that use magic are mistrusted and often viewed as evil themselves. In reading it I felt like this was the biggest shift. The shift away from the wizard as the trusted advisor and deus ex machina of the story and instead an uncertain character that may or may not have our heroes best interest at heart.

We have seen this influence continue to morph as the Warder that protects the magic user morphs into the templars in the Dragon Age video game series that protect the world from the magic users or the guardians from the Broken Earth trilogy that hunt down and imprison the magic users so that they don’t break the world (another term directly from The Eye of the World).

It is fun to be able to read a book and see so much of the origin of today’s art. It is almost like the bridge between The Lord of the Rings and what came later. It is one of my favorite parts of reading. We can only ever look back. Even if we were to buy the newest releases every Tuesday we would be reading books that were written months before and had just made it through publication and printing. We are always reading the past but there are times when we look into a more distant past and can see a work that splintered into the minds of so many of today’s creators and shaped the foundation of our current artists.

That is what The Eye of the World was. As I was reading it I was replaying the Mass Effect trilogy and whenever they talked about the cycle repeating or patterns repeating I thought of the wheel of time. How its influenced reached across medium and genre. But of course the theme of repeating patterns and cycles isn’t only from that source. It stretches back much further.

The Wheel of Time series is itself a part of a pattern or cycle. Literature, art, works that way. It is like a liquor that is distilled over and over again. Becoming something new with each generation. Tolkien read the Volsung Saga and wrote The Lord of the Ring, Robert Jordan read Tolkien and wrote The Wheel of Time series, many writers today read Jordan and have written their own works, and in the future those works will inspire their own shards.

That is how art works. The is an influence and it spawns new works that spawn new works the spawn new works and on and on. It gives us the false belief that we can reach back far enough and find some original creative thought but what we fail to realize is there is no origin point.

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