I’m going to share something geeky with you. Last night I finished the 13th book in the Wheel of Time series, “Towers of Midnight”. I can’t say that I’m generally a reader of fantasy literature (other than the Discworld series, which is really more of a fantasy parody series) but, I started this a few years ago and became hooked. And you would have to be really hooked to make it as far as I have.
To say the Wheel of Time series is epic would be an understatement. Author Robert Jordan published the first of the series in 1990. It was meant to be a 6 book set and has expanded into a huge journey. With the death of Jordan in 2007, fans were worried that they would never see the conclusion of the story and an end to their characters. However, the mantle was taken up by Brandon Sanderson, who is writing the last three books of the series based off of notes and text left behind by Jordan.
So what is the Wheel of Time series? I’m going to try and describe this with minimal lingo to explain (there is a huge vocabulary created in the book). Generally speaking, it is a fantasy series that follows the adventures of a huge number of characters. The Wheel of Time turns and different ages come to pass. Journeys become legend and legend fades as another turn of the wheel happens. The battle of light and dark happens over and over again. People are reincarnated to fight in this battle over and over in the different ages. It is the One Power that turns the wheel of time and there are people who have the ability to channel the one power to accomplish anything from healing to blowing up mountains. The power can be used for good or evil and those that use it for good battle the Dark One and his followers.
The beginning of the series finds Rand and his friends in a small town far from the worries and politics and wars of the channelers, but they come to learn that they are an important part of the pattern of the world and Rand is the chosen one who will have to defend it and defeat the dark one. The entire series follows him, his friends, and his enemies over a number of years. Rand battles with his fate, not wanting the weight of the world on his shoulders. Think Neo, but as a teenager who isn’t happy at first about being the chosen one. Some of his friends come to lead armies, others become channelers, others monarchs. The pattern of the world pushes them into positions of power before the Last Battle arrives. There are so many different kinds of people with different societies throughout this series that it would make your head spin.
So, I just finished book 13 of the series. It was one of my favorites. Maybe because things are wrapping up. Much of the boring politics and maneuvering of earlier books is done. Story lines are wrapping up so that the great climax of the Last Battle can happen in the last book. It was a deeply satisfying read. After so many stories and so much set up, it is awesome to be so close to the end. The final book comes out in 2012. It is unfortunate that I’ll have to wait so long to finish this series, but I will manage. I am looking forward to it though.
And I should point out that these are not small books. According to Wiki, the first 13 books total more than 11,000 pages. So, while I have greatly enjoyed the series, it is with that heads up that I recommend it. There is a reason it has taken more than 20 years for it all to be written. I don’t exaggerate when I say it is an epic series. But, if you want to delve and delve deep into a series of adventure, magic, love, evil, and mystery, then you might want to check it out. The first few in the series are super fun. There were a few in the middle that I thought were pretty heavy, books 8 and 9 I believe. In fact, I have a friend who also read much of the series, but gave up on the books around this point. But, after reading this last few, I think it is all worthwhile.