Monday, November 16, 2009

Wheel of Time series finale

About 20 years ago I started reading Robert Jordan's series known as the Wheel of Time. I guess it has about 12 of the books into it now, and it's been cruising along for all this time, sometimes a book out every year, sometimes longer between. Jordan himself died about two years ago with the series unfinished. But he had dictated serious notes and his wife found an author to finish the series for him.

The first of the three finale books,the Gathering Storm, came out recently. I had decided to "re-read" all of them before the book came out but I only got up to book four before giving in (I couldn't wait once I saw the book at Sam's) and buying the new one. They are BIG books (some run to 700 or more pages). They are seriously detailed. Sometimes, in the later books, that detail would get on my nerves. I just wanted something to HAPPEN. Some conclusion, some closure. It felt like Jordan had written himself into something he couldn't let go and we'd be strung along forever.

Now, with the deft writing of the new guy, Brandon Sanderson, the books are going very well. New guy balances the tone and characters nicely, and the story has progressed seriously in the last book. Part of me thinks it may be possible that Jordan himself could not have finished it. Sanderson does a good job, mostly because he doesn't get bogged down in the minutiae.

I could not put it down; all I wanted to do was read it. I am sad, now, that I'll have to wait a while until the next one. (I think the author said he was working on book 2 of the finale this June, so that probably means at least a year, probably more.) I don't know if I'm going to read the other five or so books again. I discovered while reading this one that I had actually skipped, for some reason, the last one to have come out. But I read the summary on wikipedia and caught up well enough, I think.

Anyway. Now that I don't have this book to look forward to for a while, I don't know what to do with myself. These kinds of books are the reason I became an English major, the reason I like to teach reading. They enrich my life in many ways (I see people and think of their motivations, sometimes, related to the mythic archetypes Jordan wove into the story).

If you've never read the story, I recommend it. If you were reading it and gave up on it, I also recommend revisiting it. Now that there is an end in sight, the length feels like a gift, rather than an irritating way to draw the story out forever.