Unsuspectingly, I picked up the very first book in this series at an airport. I was 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 instead a thick book in a genre I liked. The flight time to our destination being around eight hours – we went to Aruba, which was absolutely lovely by the way. By the time the very last book in the series came out, my previously new husband and I had been married for ten years, and we had both read them every single one.
The creator and author, Robert Jordan, had, unfortunately, passed away at around book 11. His widow asked a then up and coming author, Brandon Sanderson, to complete the series using Jordan’s notes. Sanderson (now no longer up and coming but a shining star of an author in his own right) 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. However, there is a central core of six to keep you focussed throughout the series. In the world’s worst over-simplification of the series, it’s a coming-of-age-story tracking a young farmboy, Rand al’Thor, as he goes forth into an inevitable battle with Shaiitan. The universe’s greatest evil, which threatens all worlds and times on a semi-regular basis. This is a ridiculous attempt to summarise fourteen books in two sentences. Still, any attempt at an in-depth summary would be a book in itself, so it will have to do.
Is it the best? Truthfully, I am not really sure. In amongst the other heavy-weights of the epic fantasy genre, it shows flaws. The array of characters, quite often with very similar sounding names is bewildering. It 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. Spoiler alert! – Some characters even come back from the dead with a name change – just to add to these “Who the hell is that?” moments. Small events, long forgotten, come up in later books, making “Eh? What did I miss?” moments as well.
Is it one of the best? Without a doubt – YES! It most definitely is! The central core of the six characters are likeable, and you come to care for them. The world is cleverly crafted, incredibly so. 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. He keeps everything moving forward. He even manages to put in a bit of romance there to keep us all interested, including a few will-they-won’t-they moments to keep us turning the pages.
Robert Jordan’s life culminated in the making of a literary masterpiece on a level with the likes of The Lord of the Rings, and possibly surpassing it (cringe). 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.
There is going to be a tv series!!!!!!!!!!!!
They have chosen some of the cast.