Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Wheel of Time...Just...Keeps...Turning

A little over a week ago, in what I was sure was an early April Fools' Day joke, it was announced that the final book in The Wheel of Time saga would be split into three books. The first book of the final three will be released this November.

I know I'm not the only one who finished the last book, Knife of Dreams, and thought, "How the hell can he finish this in one book?" Even though Jordan had said he would not wrap up all plot threads, there was still so much left hanging that only one more book seemed a Herculean task. And, sure enough, we're not getting one more book; we're getting three.

Honestly, I'm not sure how to feel about this. The Wheel of Time series is one of my favorites. I've been reading it since The Great Hunt came out in paperback in...1991. Wow. I've been reading these books for eighteen years. Each time a new one came out, I would reread the entire series. These books have really shaped my conception and love for the fantasy genre.

Still, I'd by lying if I said I wasn't feeling a little burned out on them. The last four books of the series (eleven main books and one prequel) were a bit of a drag. Jordan got caught up in numerous side plots that really felt tangential to the main story and typically not nearly as interesting. I understood where he was going in trying to craft an epic plot in which impending Armageddon triggers all sorts of other events. But, he meandered too much and took too much time with these. If he had been able to tighten up these side stories into a tighter arc, it might not been so bad. As it stands, though, it's hard not to occasionally think, "I really don't care about this" while reading the last couple of books.

That makes the thought of three more books somewhat depressing. I really, really want to see how it all ends. Jordan has said in multiple interviews that he has had the very end in mind since the beginning and I imagine it is going to be awe-inspiring. If Brandon Sanderson, the author tasked with finishing the series since Jordan's passing, can keep these last books tightly paced and moving quickly then I am sure I will enjoy them with the same enthusiasm I had for the first several books in the series. If not, they will end up ranking as a great literary disappointment because the promise shown in the first few books was and is outstanding.

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