Well, I finally did it.
I read the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.
All fourteen mammoth books of it.
Twenty ears ago or so, I read the first book, The Eye of the World, and enjoyed it. I started the second book, The Great Hunt, and it was just the first book all over again. Same beginning, same plot structure…I set it aside and never went back. Life’s too short to spend time reading books you don’t like.
Fast forward twenty years and now my son has read the entire series. He reads with his ears rather than his eyes, and had gone through the entire now-fourteen book series over the course of several months. He liked most of the books and encourages me to try it again. Robert Jordan passed away before he could complete the series; Brandon Sanderson has written the last three books from the copious notes Jordan had left.
I like Sanderson. I’ve read all of his books. ALL of them. I like his style: straightforward, enough description to see a scene without repeating it over and over and over. Which is what Jordan did. You don’t need to tell me the Aes Sedai have ageless faces every single time one comes into the story. Every. Single. Time. Augh!!!
In fact, if I didn’t know Sanderson was the author of the last three books, I’m pretty sure I would’ve abandoned the series after book seven, when I wanted to throw it across the room at the “climax.” Do NOT set up the villain throughout several hundred pages, detailing his plots, throwing monkey wrenches into the hero’s path, and then, at the final battle between the two, have the hero accidentally throw some magic toward someone else and “maybe” catch the villain in it as well, killing him. Maybe. Can’t be sure.
And that was it. The entire ending of a several hundred page conflict over in a single sentence that provided no conclusion. Yeah. It took a lot of will-power not to throw that book out the window.
Why did I keep going at that point? Because I hoped to find out what really happened. To find out if the villain was actually dead. And did I? Nope. Not even discussed until several books later.
Yeah, the ONLY thing that kept me reading was the fact that Brandon Sanderson wrote the last three books.
To be fair, books ten and eleven – Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams – did get better. But honestly? Some editor really should’ve told Jordan to stop the repetition.
And no, I’m not talking about the regular repetition one has to put at the start of each book in order to bring a reader up-to-date if they haven’t read the other books that came before. Every author does that because, well, because publishers demand it. The only one who got away without it was JRR Tolkien and that was because he pretty much invented the fantasy genre with The Lord of the Rings and his publisher just took his mammoth book and hacked it into three parts.
Publishers don’t do that any more. Every book in a series has to stand on its own so that, if a reader picks up Book Three in a series, they can jump in without having to read the first two. Whether I agree with that or not is a totally different blog post.
So I didn’t mind that repetition in the series. But really? Every time the reader goes into a city, even if the characters had been there just a few chapters earlier, do you have to describe the entire thing all over again? And do I really need to know EXACTLY what every single character is wearing, every time he/she changes their clothes? Does EVERY horse have to have a name? EVERY messenger who has a single line have to have a name that I’m going to forget, probably before I turn the page?
The cast of characters is huge. And people come and go quickly. You learn a name and poof! They’re gone. But don’t forget them, because three books later, here they are again and if you’ve forgotten them and their relationship? THAT he’s not going to remind you of. THAT he expects you to remember.
But I have done it. I read all fourteen books and only skimmed some of that too much description. Detail is king in these books, and what I consider to be too much, others might appreciate. Truly, the fashion choices of each character might be important and, if Jordan had followed up on them and given a clue as to whether it was a whim or a statement, that would’ve been helpful. But he didn’t. He just changes their clothes and moves on.
And so am I. No idea what I’ll read next. Probably a light Regency just to regain my equilibrium. I am leaving the world of the Wheel of Time behind. Let the Wheel turn as it will, I’m getting off the merry-go-round.
P.S. If you haven’t picked up your copy of my newest book, Romantic Seas, make sure you do! It’s a novella, so you can read it in an afternoon and it won’t take up months of your time. I promise. J