The Wheel of Time Series
By Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
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I made it through! Have no doubt, finishing the Wheel of Time (WoT for short) series in its entirety is a daunting task. There are 14 books total, and I am fairly certain the shortest is over 150,000 words. Needless to say, a lot goes on. At its core, it is the the story of three boyhood chums from the same little village in the backwoods of nowhere. Rand, Perry, and Mat soon enough find their lives not just turned upside-down, but to a great extant no longer even their own. They go from being simple villagers to leading the “light” side, or good people of humanity against the forces of darkness in the Last Battle.
It is the epitome of epic fantasy, and Jordan was not the least bit shy of being overly descriptive. There are many complaints of this online, mostly as to the repetitious nature of many of these descriptions. There are, after all, only so many times a woman can smooth her dress! (Although, in fairness, its not like said dresses would have had pockets either 🙂 ) I enjoyed the descriptions though, and found that it made for a vivid read, a la the obvious influences of Tolkien.
For having been started so many decades ago, the WoT universe is ahead of its time in many ways by having strong female characters. That being said, WoT has a LOT of characters. It is not a series you can read or and there or you will be completely lost when you come back to it. I know. I tried. In the end I read them one after the other and it took about a year. I had a couple short breaks, but it really was a marathon.
The question then becomes, is it worth the time? The answer is an unqualified maybe. The first 11 books were written by Robert Jordan, the definitive creator of the series. Jordan succumbed to cardiac amyloidosis and the series ended up being finished by Brandon Sanderson. There is a noticeable change in the last three books. Sanderson did an amazing job in following Jordan’s lead and being honest to his characters, without trying to be Jordan. The net result is that there seems to be just as much description in the final three books, but far more happens in moving the plot along.
The middle books can definitely be a slog, and I have talked with angry fans because of it, but the end books I really do think make the journey worth it. Indeed after I finished the final book, A Memory of Light, I actually kind of wished it had been longer. At the end of the day, if you liked Lord of the Rings and enjoy Fantasy, its worth the time. If you’re on the fence about Fantasy, then I’d say no.
Overall I give it 3 out of 4 stars. ***