December 1, 2012

The Wheel Begins to Turn....

On my reading list, I'm currently reading The Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time series. I am halfway through the book, and this is not a 'review' but more of my thoughts so far.

The story is a fantasy one. In the traditional type, following in the 'vein' of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. It is a typical hero's quest and coming of age story, like Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars..

It is quite well written, and could very well be among the best fantasy story since Lord of the Rings. Equally amazing, yet equally different is George R.R. Martin's Ice and Fire series. Apples and oranges, ying and yang, because they are different types of fantasy: The Wheel of Time is story driven adventure fantasy whereas Ice and Fire is character driven historic drama.   

The Eye of the World is the first in a fourteen boom series. The titles are The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, Fires of Heaven, Lord of Chaos, A Crown of Swords, The Path of Daggers, Winter's Heart, Crossroads of Twilight, Knife of Dreams, The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light.

I began reading the, ten years ago. Due to my adoration for the Lord of the Rings: Part 1, I craved more fantasy to read. And so it was that The Wheel of Time got recommended to me. So I picked up all the books in paperback that was currently out. I read the first five, and enjoyed them a bit. However, I got 'derailed' from the series. It wasn't due to lack of interest, but rather I wanted to read other books. I believe part of the reason was that by then Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling had come out, and I needed to read that book immediately. So The Wheel of Time was put on hold. 

Over the years, my reading stack grew and grew and grew until now, I'm ready to carry on the series. Since it's been so long, I may as well start anew. Sure I could wiki what happened in the first five novels, but that's not quite as entertaining. After a 9-10 year hiatus? Yeah, best to start over. 

I've remained faithful and continued buying the books in paperback (matching format and design and all that) knowing, someday, I'll get back to them.

And now I have. The finale, A Memory of Light, is coming out in January, but for me that means approx another year's wait. During then, I'm reading 1-13, in hopes that 14 will soon follow, if not be out already. The only thing to derail me this time, is if The Winds of Winter, the sixth book in George R.R. Martin's series, comes out before the I get to the end of Book 14. Should that happen, I'll keep my bookmark in whatever book I'm on, read Winds, then return to the series once more.

So what do I think? It's very good. It's traditional fantasy - fireballs. Lightning. a Dark Lord. a Hero. and Epic Quest. But the way Robert Jordan makes the 'old' (let's say 'familiar') new and fresh again is well done indeed. It's thanks to his writing skill. The Wheel of Time could easily be another Lord of the Rings knockoff. In synopsis it kind of sounds similar...and yet, it's not. 

It's a shame that Robert Jordan could not see his own series complete, due passing away from amyloidosis. Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson (see The Way of Kings, the beginning of the 'next Wheel of Time') has connected the dots that Jordan laid out after his death to bring the tail end of the saga (The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light) to a close. 

Tolkien describes Lord of the Rings as a tale that grew in the telling. George R.R. Martin mentions that often, (initially his series was supposed to be a trilogy: Game of Thrones, A Dance With Dragons and The Winds of Winter) but The Wheel of Time is Lord of the Rings on steroids: Jordan initially envisioned his series being a trilogy, with the first book ending where The Dragon Reborn now ends. And, A Memory of Light was supposed to be the 12th and final book...but that grew to three! Whew! Let's have a look at the page count for the series so far, in paperback:

832 pages
736 pages
704 pages
1008 pages
992 pages
1024 pages
896 pages
704 pages
800 pages
864 pages
880 pages
1120 pages
1264 pages

=  11824 pages thus far. I'm guessing that Book 14 will be around the length of Towers of Midnight. 

The ultimate NaNoWriMo challenge!!! or maybe NaNoWriYea (Year not month)

I think it's safe to say that me 'gearing up' for my fantasy series to be five books long, about 500-800 pages in hardcover per book, is pretty spot on. I may need a sixth book, but I don't foresee that one being longer than 600 pages.  

There maybe one, two, maybe three more Wheel of Time posts more, but this is it for now. On the day of release for the final book, I shall post the prologue of the entire series. up here to get some people a glimpse of Robert Jordan's writing. TOR, the publisher, oft posts sample chapters so fear not legally. The books are currently out in hardcover, paperback, newly-issued trade paperback (about half so far, I'm keeping you guys posted on those), audio, and ebook. 

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