Unsuspectingly I picked up the very first book in this series at an airport awaiting the start of my honeymoon. I chose it not because I had heard of the book or knew the author ,which I hadn’t and didn’t but because it was rather a thick book in the genre I liked and the flight time to our destination was around eight hours. By the time the last book in the series came out my husband and I had been married for ten years and we had both read them all. The creator and author Robert Jordan unfortunately passed away at after book 11, and his widow asked a then, up and coming author, Brandon Sanderson, to complete the series. Sanderson did an excellent job completing books 12, 13 and 14.
If you want to read a high fantasy series that will keep you occupied for a very long time to come this would be it.
It tells a story through the point of view of many characters, although there are a central core of six, and tracks an inevitable path of one of them, Rand al’Thor, from his start as a simple farm boy towards an inevitable battle with Shaiitan, the great evil, which threatens all worlds and times. This is such a ridiculously simplified summary of the series, but with fourteen books any attempt at an in-depth summary would be a book in itself.
Is it the best? Truthfully, I am not really sure. In amongst the other heavy-weights of the epic fantasy genre it shows it’s flaws. The array of characters, quite often with very similar sounding names is bewildering and can have you trying to trace back through a foot wide number of pages (yes, in paperback it takes up at least that much space on a shelf) to find out who they are. Some characters even come back from the dead with a name change. Small events, long forgotten, can come up in later books, making you wonder what you missed.
Is it one of the best? Without a doubt – yes, it is! The central core of six characters are likeable, and you come to care for them. The world is cleverly crafted, incredibly so, and even if you, the reader, are often confused with so many events and characters, Robert Jordan obviously knew everything and everyone within the world he created down to the smallest detail and keeps everything moving forward. Robert Jordan made a literary masterpiece on a level with the likes of The Lord of the Rings but like any masterpiece, the value is within the eye of the beholder, or in this case the mind of the reader.
Would I recommend it? Definitely! Millions of readers and a score of awards cannot be wrong.
UPDATE! – There is going to be a tv series!!!!!!!!!!!!