Well I’ve done it. I finally started reading the Wheel of Time series again. For those of you not well versed in fantasy, Wheel of Time is in the top 3 fantasy series of all time (other two are Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones). I am currently reading book 11, there are 13 right now and 14th on the way. Though the series is now written by Brandon Sanderson as the author Robert Jordan died a few years ago. Jordan’s wife and editor brought Sanderson in to finish the series based off of Robert’s notes.
I loved this series. I started reading it when only the first 3 books (the best ones in the series so far) were out. I believe I was in 7th or 8th grade, but don’t remember exactly. I kept up with it as the years went by and each new book came out. Around book 7 my interest started to wane. I kept reading out of loyalty, but even my fan heart couldn’t block out my brain saying the series was going no where. From books 7-10 nothing really happens. Half of each book (not exaggerating) was nothing but descriptions of clothing. Complication upon complication kept being introduced for each of the dozens of character that are a POV, but no complications were ever resolved. Simply, Robert Jordan was spinning his wheels. I actually found the same thing to be true of George R.R. Martin’s last book in the Song of Fire and Ice series (that’s the series Game of Thrones is based off of).
I reread the series in college (through book 9) and fell in love again. Then after reading book 10 I gave up. I declared that I wouldn’t read any more of the series because I had finally lost interest. There was no end point in site, the books had stagnated. As a side note, I think this might be common in most long series. Not to knock the authors (because I can barely get 1 book done, let alone 14), but I think they sometimes get lost in the story and forget the plot. I equate it to changing the course of a river. One book is like moving a small stream. You can direct it where you need to fairly easily. A series as long of WoT is like the Mississippi it goes where it wants and the author is just along for the ride. I’m afraid Martin will fall into this trap. I really want him to finish the series before he dies, but the rate at which he writes and his current age, may make that unlikely.
I saw the new books in Wheel of Time come out written by Sanderson. I admit I was mildly curious, but there was really no desire to revisit the world. Then Claire (which oddly enough Claire and I talked about Wheel of Time the first night we met) had some friends at her work that said that book 11 was good, and the Sanderson books (starting with 12) really started to propel the plot towards the conclusion. She had also forsworn the series, but against her better judgement started reading them again. She liked them and kept talking about them.
Finally I gave in and bought book 11 for my Kindle yesterday. Because in the end, I really do want to know what happens. I’ve known these characters for two thirds of my life. I owe it to them to see them to the conclusion of their journey. These books shaped my younger years. In some ways I feel that I need to finish the series now as a memorial to Robert Jordan. He made me want to write epic fantasy. In my mind Wheel of Time is the epic fantasy series. People talk about Lord of the Rings or even Wizards First Rule, and of course Song of Fire and Ice, but to me WoT will forever stand as the temple of epic fantasy.
Now I am off to worship at its words.