Wheel of Time

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Read: A Memory of Light

Maybe I have just out-grown the Wheel of time series (like, I fear, Card’s Ender series) over the last years. Maybe it really just turned worse over time, or maybe it was the unfortunately forced change of authors.

While I think I still mostly enjoyed A Memory of Time, the final volume of the Wheel of Time’s conclusion, it also felt a bit like work. I am more relieved than sad that there will be no further sequel.

Of course, it is no easy task to bring a 14 volume fantasy saga to a satisfying end. It’s even harder if your are not the original authors but just some young fellow who got some notes and was commissioned to finish it. Therefore, it would be nice to know how much of this endless drag, layman philosophy, and moral cudgel has to be attributed to Jordan and how much to Sanderson.

All the protagonists felt a bit out-of-character. Or was this character development, their final maturation? There were certainly a few inconsistencies with their behavior and experiences. There are unnecessary attempts at creating suspense. This is the conclusion, no need to create new mysteries, indeed, it would have been nice to see all former mysteries not just somehow resolved but also explained to the reader.

So in the end, I am happy that is over but I am not quite satisfied with it.

Read: Towers of Midnight

It’s the penultimate Wheel of Time book what makes this book number 13, or the second written by Sanderson after Jordan’s death.

Maybe it is the nearing end or the change in authors, the pace definitely took up. In all the different story lines quite a few things are happening. It’s not just moving around any more. This makes reading this series fun (again).

On the other hand, and here I blame the current substitute author, current stereotypes are unnecessarily bleeding through into this fantasy world. There is no reason for any male protagonist to feel like pink should be the last color for a man to wear. This is something current western (adolescent) culture may contain, and it’s a rather recent thing. It was however not something that was introduced in the earlier books, it was not part of the various Wheel of Time cultures. As small as this little detail is, I found it annoying.

Read: The Gathering Storm

It was quite sad news when a friend of mine told me about Robert Jordan’s death in 2007. I started to read the Wheel of Time series in the mid-nineties, then it was the German translations that were split up in two or three books for each of the original books. Since each of these shorter books costs about as much as one of the originals I soon switched to the original English version. International book imports just became affordable and I discovered my preference for original versions of books and movies… So I started over. And now, a decade later the series was about to suddenly end without a conclusion. Sad news, indeed.

So it was quite good news when the publisher Tor Books announced that their will be a conclusion nevertheless. Jordan had left enough material so that another author could take over the task to write the concluding volume. A kind of licensed fan-fic. And it is certainly better than most fan-fic I know. Brandon Sanderson – I had never read anything by him before – did a great job. Though he did not try to imitate Jordan – thank you! – his style keeps true to the spirit of the series. There is less of the Tolkienesque descriptions of the environment, there is definitely a faster pace than in the other installments. This faster pace may, of course, be due to the looming conclusion of the series. Yet, finally some loose ends are tied up. This is rather satisfying. Jordan seemed not to be able to round off any of the many sub-plots. There was always another twist that prolonged the story.

As I was not following any of the discussions and (p)reviews when the imminent publication of The Gathering Storm finally was announced – I did not want to spoil my own reading experience of the book – I was rather surprised when I learned that this last book is not the last book. There will be another two installments of the Wheel of Time series coauthored by Sanderson as there was too much material to cover it in just one book. And indeed, The Gathering Storm does not leave the impression that Sanderson needed to pad the story.