There are days—horrible, dark days—when I end up doing more algebra than writing. You remember those word problems from high school?
If Valyn is flying west on a Kettral, covering 300 miles a day, and Ran il Tornja is riding north-east on horseback, covering 100 miles a day, and Gwenna is running due south, covering 50 miles a day, will they all actually meet where they need to meet at the end of the damn book, or will you need to rewrite the whole ass end of the thing? You idiot.
And that’s actually a pretty easy one. When you start thinking about the nuances of travel, there are all sorts of variables: terrain, vegetation, injury, oceanic currents, weather, war, laziness, bowel movements, wrong turns… It’s not unusual for me to have twelve tabs open on Google, all researching some aspect of travel. How fast is a trireme? A quinquireme? What about in a crosswind? How much do those Mongolian steppe horses eat, anyway? How long did it take to navigate the length of the Erie Canal?
At a certain point, you can forgive Robert Jordan for deciding that every major character in the Wheel of Time could just cut a hole in the air and step directly into whatever place they wanted to go. In spite of all the odious algebra, however, there are narrative and dramatic opportunities inherent in the necessity of all that travel.
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