I have found a new December tradition. After collecting most of the books in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series I decided to finally begin reading them this winter. I was pretty blown away and hooked from the start. The book evoked the same feels that I had as a young kid reading Tolkien for the first time.
Why did I ever wait? Probably because there are so many books in the series (and I was never very clear on where to begin, exactly, since they weren’t listed with a sequential numbering system until later). Also, they are crazy long. Eye of the World, the first book, is 700 pages long and it’s not anywhere near the longest of them.
What continually amazed me, besides how Jordan is able to keep the tension of the story ratcheted so high for so long without letting the story tire, was how he built such a seamless world. He didn’t use elves and dwarves and the traditional tropes… his world is entirely his own and while it hearkens to some traditional elements of traditional mythologies, it is still so supported by the story that one can hardly escape the perfect mythopoeia.
Another possible reason for an early reluctance was because of how big of a Tolkien fiend I am. Jordan’s writing has so much in common (from a worldbuilding sense) that it makes the transition easy. Because Jordan’s work is more recent (and follows a different set of rules as far as hooks, tense voicing, character development, etc.) Eye of the World was perhaps a more engaging (possibly more enjoyable) read.
The story is on such an epic scale and with high stakes that the bad guys gave me goosebumps. While it’s not a comedy, the inner thoughts of Rand and Perrin’s take on the other’s womanizing (which actually never happened) made me laugh out loud.
I had to decide to pace myself as I neared the end of Eye of the World. Now that the fire has been lit, I look at the any thousand pages yet to be read and think, “what ever will I do when I finish it—it’ll be gone before I know it and there will be no more!” (Jordan passed during prewriting for the final novel and the notes were given to Brandon Sanderson, his protégé, who completed it). Thus, I’ve decided to only read one book per year (well, maybe two… I could take one on summer vacation, right?)
If you haven’t started the Wheel of Time, you should. I’d always heard it was something of a requirement for fantasy fans, and now that I’ve cracked the cover I’m a firm believer.