Tomorrow has been 21 years in the making (Musings in advance of “A Memory of Light”)

I have a “special” shelf on my bookcase at home.  Not just any book is allowed on it.  In fact, the criteria is pretty specific: it’s reserved solely for the books in the Wheel of Time series.

bookcase

See that empty space there at the end?  My shelf is incomplete.  It’s always been incomplete.  Because the series has always been incomplete.  Since the summer of 1991, when a friend – my high school best friend – let me borrow his copy of “The Eye of the World”, I’ve been waiting, as patiently as possible, for the final book in the series.  Waiting for Tarmon Gai’don, the final, epic battle between the forces of Light and Shadow to be fought.

Well, the end has finally – finally – come.  Tomorrow, January 8th, 2013, the 14th book in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, “A Memory of Light,” will be released.

The shelf is finally going to be full.

It’s difficult to express exactly how much I’m looking forward to this book, and yet how sad I’m going to be when I read the final pages.  On the one hand, holy hellz, It’s. Finally. Teh. Endz!  Fans of the series like me have been following the story for more than two decades, feverishly devouring each new volume as the tale progressed, often times with the inching speed of a caterpillar, towards what we all hope will be a rewarding, climatic Final Battle.  That’s a long time to wait for something you knew was coming in the very first book.  So, yay for the reaching the finish line.

But…

I’ve been reading this series for most of my adult life.  Actually, if adulthood starts at 18 years old, make that my entire adult life.  I’ve known and loved these characters – both their endearing traits and their irritating ones (and yes, just like real people, they have both) – longer than I’ve known my wife, my children, almost all of my coworkers, and many of my friends.  And when I finish reading “A Memory of Light”, those characters’ journey will be finished. For the first time then, I’ll have to walk the path of my own life knowing that I’ll never again hear the voices of Rand al’Thor, Perrin Aybara, and Matrim Cauthon speak new words.

As you can tell, I’ve been feeling a bit contemplative about the whole thing, so last night I decided to revisit the books that have been waiting to become a completed set for years.

eye

This is the first book.  I didn’t actually read this book first, though, because, as I said, the first time I read my friend’s borrowed copy.  I received this hardcover copy as a gift, years later, to complete the hardback set.  I did go back and read it, though, when I re-read the full series several years ago.

hunt

This one, the second book in the series, is the one I typically say is my favorite.  It’s the first book I ever stayed up all night to finish, even though I had to be a work at K-Mart at 9:30 in the morning the next day.  I worked in the hardware department then.  All I remember of that day in the store was being ridiculously slap-happy.  I’m pretty sure I mixed some paint for customers.  Odds are pretty good that they got something more “Molasses Daybreak” than the “Robin’s Egg” they wanted.  Whatever. I’ll still contend that was better customer service than you can get at K-Mart now.

This is also the first book in the series to give me a lump in my throat the size of Manhattan – and nearly cause a quite unmanly fit of full-blown crying.

No can prove anything.

shadow

This one came out when I was but a mere co-op, writing and executing software test cases.  I wouldn’t meet my wife for another 5 years.  Now I’m the most senior software developer in my department, have been married for 12 years, and have four kids.  Oh, my, how things have changed.

winters_heart

Being so attached to a series that you’re willing to hang onto for 14 books over the course of 20+ years is not all fun and games.  Some of the books seemed like they did more running-in-place than advancing the overarching plot.  When I read this one, though, I thought we were finally taking our first steps down the path to the Last Battle.  As it turns out, I was mostly wrong; we still had some inching yet to do even after it.  Regardless, this was also the one where the Something Remarkable and Major I forecasted would happen years in advance finally actually happened.

That made me feel pretty smart.  But did I get so much as a golf clap?! Noooooooo.

tgs

This one, book 12, was really the beginning of drive to the big, all-encompassing conflicty battle of Good vs. Evil at the end of the series.  It’s also the first one not written solely by Robert Jordan, who lost his own final battle with a rare cardiac disease following the publication of book 11.  Fantasy author Brandon Sanderson was hand-picked by Mr. Jordan’s widow, Harriet, to complete the series.  This book depicts one of the most powerful and satisfying battle scenes I’ve ever read, which had been building since book two.  It was, truly, one of those F$*K YEAH! kind of things.

towers

This is book 13.  It finally tied up that one seemingly-over-but-we-all-knew-better sub-plot that’s been finished but not yet complete since…um….*thinks back*…book four.  Also, when I got to the last twenty pages of this book, I started to nurse that special kind of quiet, simmering frustration that eventually builds to near-incoherent rage because I knew the story, the-whole-ball-of-wax-plot, finally stood on the precipice…

…and I’d have to wait two more years to finally go over that cliff.

Well, those two years have come, and gone.  One way or another, I’ll be joining all the characters I’ve know for so long as we all go careening over the edge.  Truth be told, I half expect that I’ll be nursing a familiar Manhattan-sized…no, make that Texas-sized…lump in my throat for the duration of time it takes me to read it.

I’m excited like a kid on Christmas Eve, and yet my heart is heavy knowing the end of it all is finally here.

One way or another, tomorrow my shelf is going to be complete.

Pud’n

PS: Now that I’ve shared a few of the ways the Wheel of Time series touched my life, how about you? Do you have any memories made special because of the series across the past two decades?  What about another series? We’d love to hear!

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123 thoughts on “Tomorrow has been 21 years in the making (Musings in advance of “A Memory of Light”)

  1. That last spot looks mighty tight…it’d be a shame if the new one is a wee bit bigger than the space allows 8^)

    BTW, I feel the same startling, harrowing anticipation before the release of each successive Dresden Files novel. I’m with ya.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Don’t think I haven’t thought that! Considering that each one seems to be bigger than the previous, I’m expecting to test the limits of possible compression the side walls of that bookcase can exert!

      I’m somewhat ashamed to say I just read my first Dresden a couple months ago. Storm Front was an excellent start, I’ll definitely continue the series. Have you read Butcher’s epic fantasy series, the Codex Alera?

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      • Indeed – his style is so much different in 3rd person versus 1st person, but that series was great in its own way. I just hated (literally) the last ten or so chapters and the way it ended. Thought it was a bit of a letdown. Dresden Files, on the other hand, though there are a few slower novels, just keeps getting better and better.

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      • Jason says:

        If you like epic fantasy, I highly recommend the series. It’s not perfect and has a few slow spots, but the high points, plus the sheer depth of it, make up for any shortcoming. Good luck!

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  2. This is my favorite post so far for the new year. It goes to show how certain series are entangled in our life journey and don’t leave until they’re over!

    Your journey with the Wheel of Time is like mine with Harry Potter, except luckily, yours has expanded well over 20 years instead of only staying around for 10 years (The books were within a 10 year span unfortunately. I wish J.K. Rowling had held out on publishing her books or would write a back history of everything she’s putting on Pottermore).

    Like

    • Jason says:

      That’s actually an interesting point. Many of us Wheel of Time fans griped over the years that it sometimes seemed the series wasn’t getting to the end fast enough. Now that it’s hear, I’m glad for all the time I got to spend with it.

      Incidentally, I actually refused to read Harry Potter for a long time because Tor held back a WoT book release for several months because a Potter book was due out the same season (Goblet of Fire, I believe). It took me a long time to get over that prejudice, but I’m glad a did. Rowling did a wonderful job!

      Like

    • Jason says:

      I definitely got lucky that bookshelf looks like it’s going to be the perfect width. I’m a little worried, though; it could be a tight squeeze!

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  3. Mom Puddin says:

    This post left me with lots of thoughts!!! I have read so many “series” & of course so many books I couldn’t begin to make comparisons! I love Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone Alphabet series and next is “W”. What will happen when “Z” is complete???? And Nora Roberts AKA J.D. Robb is great no matter what name she uses and Kristen Hannah and Sandra Brown and Harlan Coben and Deborah Smith and the WONDERFUL Rosamund Pilcher and Stephen King and Karin Slaughter and Erica Spindler and Dorothea Benton Frank… Just to name a few….. And I would have to acknowledge where it all started…..Carolyn Keene and whoever was responsible for Cherry Ames and L. Frank Baum for all the Oz books (yes, there was more than one, all magical, well before Harry Potter). I don’t know what point I made here, no time left for reviews; I have a few more posts to catch up on and then bed — the Puddinpop has a game I have to see tomorrow!!!!!!!! :-)

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  4. I have loved this series all my adult life, too. What wonderful characters and a vivid world Mr. Jordan created, and how many hours I have been entertained by them. He is greatly missed.

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    • Jason says:

      He is greatly missed, indeed. I SO wish he’d had the opportunity to finish the series himself. The story, obviously, is his, and and Mr. Sanderson did a marvelous job in a very difficult spot. “A Memory of Light” was definitely satisfying (and somewhat saddening), but I wish it’d been in Mr. Jordan’s words!

      Like

  5. Halfway through it as I read your post! Hope you are loving it as much as I am. It is a roller-coaster ride of a book so far. And as much as I am in awe of all Jordan did, I love Brandon Sanderson more.

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    • Jason says:

      I finished it last weekend, after a cavalry charge of reading all week in between works and stuff for the kids. I think I slept an average of 3.5 hours a night and watched absolutely no TV all week! :-) It was worth it though. Not a perfect book, but a satisfying end to a series many of us have been tied to for years and years.

      And I’m a huge Sanderson fan now, as well. I can’t wait for the next Mythborn trilogy!

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  6. I only became familiar with this series when I met my partner of 4 years. I had no idea how epic and amazing the series was! The other night, I woke up at 4 am to my partner, who is right now in the middle of his last semester of a thesis in architecture (very demanding and insane program), still reading intently as he had been for the last 8 or 9 hours. I think he finished the entire 900 page book in 2 days… Maybe I should start the series but I’m afraid that the rest of my life will fall by the wayside!

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    • Jason says:

      It took me about 4 late nights, but every one of them was worth! And I’ve been thinking I need to go back and reread the entire series again now. On the other hand, the prospect of such a commitment scares me a bit!

      Like

  7. karenspath says:

    I was introduced to this series in 1996 by my then boyfriend. A couple of boyfriends, a husband and four kids later I finally will get to finish the series. I will confess that the inching along has driven me crazy!!!! I think I lived longer while reading some of these books than the characters did in that book… I didn’t realize this book was already out so I’m heading out the door to buy it! Yay!

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    • Jason says:

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Incidentally, in one of the more amusing lines of the book, one of the characters mentioned that it had only been roughly 2 years in Randland since they left Emond’s Field that one night, although it seemed much, much longer. Two years!!!

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  8. Hello. Would you be interested in featuring on my blog http://www.5thingstodotoday.com? All you have to do is write five suggestions of inspiration. Include in your suggestions a link back to your blog. Please check out the blog and see the sort of things people have written about. The cost to you would be £10.00, which you can make through the donation button on the blog front page. It would be a way of you creating a back link to your blog and getting some more people visiting your blog. Thanks David.

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    • Jason says:

      In a sense, though, I envy that a little. Rereads of the series are great, but there’s something about reading it and experiencing everything the first time. I’d love to be able to read The Great Hunt again for the first time.

      Like

  9. This was the first series I quit. I really really really really liked the first two books I read. I only read six or seven in the series and it has been so long (as you know) that I don’t actually remember if I read six or seven 700-page novels. I said to myself, “if he finishes… then I will consider starting over and reading the whole series… ” and now we are here. Now I have to make a decision… to read, or not to read… hmmm…

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    • Jason says:

      That’s a tough one. I have a couple of friends that gave up on it too, but I think they ultimately went back when they heard the series was coming to an end. I can tell you that the last three books are very rewarding as far as wrapping up the major conflicts that open in the beginning of the series. Good luck!

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  10. I’m going to sound like such a little kid when I say this… but I remember being this excited for the final Harry Potter book. It was a really big deal. There were so many questions and theories about how it was all going to end. What would happen to Harry? Who was going to die at the end of this one? Would voldemort finally be killed off for good?
    It was bittersweet when I finally got to the last page. As excited as you are, remember to savour it. It’s easy to devour one book after another in a series when you know there’s going to be more to read after. But once you get to the end, that’s it.
    I hope you get the ending you want. :)

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    • Jason says:

      I remember feeling the same way after reading the Potter series. I was satisfied and impressed with what Rowling accomplished, but a little sad too that it was over. Ironically, I held off reading that series for years (out of spite) because I read they delayed a Wheel of Time release so it wouldn’t conflict with a Potter book. I shouldn’t have, that was a great series!

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  11. Being June says:

    I stopped reading at about Winter’s Heart, telling myself I’d pick up the series again once it was finished. I’m furiously working my way through Lord of Chaos now (yes, I dropped the ball on following the release date) and I LOVE getting to know the characters again. Have there been highs and lows in the series? Sure. But it will always hold a special place in my heart. First read EoTW in 1996. I was 21. Now I’m thirty-(cough) and I still can’t wait to find out how it ends. Squee!

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    • Jason says:

      Honestly, the books after Winter’s Heart were the hardest for me. After The Big Thing that happens at the end of that one, I thought for sure, The End was nigh. But, alas, no. I hope you really enjoy it when you get the chance to read it! It’s well done with respect to the characters we’re all so attached to.

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  12. I always get sad when a series ends but it is greatly satisfying when a favored author can finish a series, especially one as large as this. What really makes me sad is when I get part way into a series or trilogy and the author never finishes. That happened to “The Godslayer Chronicles” by James Clemens.

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    • Jason says:

      Oh, wow, that would be incredibly disappointing! Certainly, many of us Wheel of Time fans worried when Mr. Jordan got sick. His passing was very sad. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate the effort his widow, Harriet, Tor books, and Brandon Sanderson put into completing his master work.

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      • It was rather disappointing but my wife had it hared being a big Anne McCaffrey fan. She knew that she was never going to write again but making it final is sad. Plus she really liked her work.

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  13. I can relate, although my series was Repairman Jack by F. Paul Wilson. The first book (The Tomb) was written in the 80’s, then he decided to add to it in the nineties and finally finished the series just a couple of years ago. My current series, as has been mentioned above, is The Dresden Files by Butcher and Martin’s Game of Thrones. The waiting can drive you crazy, but when the end finally comes, boy do I get a little sad. Having the entire series, though, lets you go through and relive that world all over again.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed! Oh, and did the book fit in it’s assigned space?

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    • Jason says:

      Thanks! I’ll have to look at that series by Wilson. I just recently started reading the Dresden novels, so I’ve got almost that whole series to get yet. Martin’s story has been great, too, but yes, the waiting is so hard sometimes. He said it expects the series to end after 7 novels, but based on where they are now, I can’t see how he’ll tie it all up in the 2 more books. Should be interesting!

      Oh, and yes, the book fits very well in the assigned space, :-)

      Like

    • Jason says:

      I don’t believe I’ve ever read any of his books. Based on a cursory google search, it looks like I might have to remedy that. I’m always on the lookout for more well-done fantasy!

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  14. Like other commenters, I’ve had a similar experience with Harry Potter. So much has changed in my life between the first book and the last, and it took me months to get over the fact that it was over at last.

    I keep wondering if I should give WoT a try now that it’s finished. But starting something so long makes me a bit nervous – I can’t stand leaving a series half-read, so what if I don’t enjoy it?

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    • Jason says:

      I think if you read the first book or two, you’d be sold. Honestly, the hardest part for most of us fans was that it would be 18 months to 2 years between books for us, sometimes more, and then book #9 would come out and barely inch the plot along. For someone reading it now, for the first time, though, that wouldn’t be an issue. Sure, there are spots you’d want the plot to move faster, but at least you wouldn’t have to wait to dig into the next book and keep it moving.

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  15. At book seven, I got disgusted and I stopped reading. Jordan told us it would be 7 books. But he kept going of on tangents rather than make independent side series. When book seven not only proved there was no end in sight, but added a huge tangent instead, I never read another by Jordan. That was it for me.

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    • Jason says:

      You’re certainly not alone there. Several of my friends more or less gave up too, although, I think they’re going to finish it now that it’s done. For me, the frustration came from waiting two only to get a shiny, new book where nothing really significant happened. That’s a lot easier to deal with when you can finally go from one book to the next and finish it off.

      Like I said, though I certainly don’t think would question why you’d hang it up and never come back to it!

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  16. I’ve only had the Wheel of Time in my life for a decade, but your thoughts brought up strong memories of the series for me. It’s always a strange mix of emotions when a series we love ends, but luckily, there’s enough meat in the Wheel of Time to keep re-reading until the next Age.

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    • Jason says:

      That’s the truth! In fact, I decided before A Memory of Light came out that I was going to take this year and reread the whole series again. I wouldn’t be surprised if I went back to it every 5 years or so, just for fun. :-)

      Like

  17. abookdragon says:

    I was given a book for my birthday. Actually, a trip to the bookstore to pick a book out plus lunch. I picked Eye of the World then went back for book 2, back for #3, etc. . . There were six at the time and I think I read them in six weeks. Then I waited. Bought and read then waited. By book 10 I had given up actually reading them and moved on while the series finished.

    The sad thing is that I don’t know when I’ll get back to it. Now that the last book is published, I think my son will read the series but I’ve moved on and personally may never know what happens to Rand and the rest.

    I enjoy your post and the quick trip down memory lane

    As for other series. . . The Cat Who book by Lilian Jackson Braun! I’ve read them all. Also most of Anne McCaffrey, Dick Francis, Piers Anthony.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      As I’ve said before, I don’t think anyone can fault you for giving up on the series. The waiting seemed interminable sometimes! Still, if you have any attachment to the characters at all still, I recommend finishing the series out, if for no other reason than as a reward for all those long years of waiting and waiting only for nothing else really new to happen! :-)

      I familiar with that Braun series and, of course, McCaffery and Anthony. But I don’t think I’ve ever read anything by Dick Francis. I’ll have to look into his work. Thanks for the recommendations!

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  18. Congratulations on being Pressed.

    I’m amazed. I’ve read 70 books a year for the past 50 years and I’m a sci-fi/ whatever fan and I’ve never heard of the author or the series.

    (Jim scratches his head in wonderment)

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Thank you! And, wow, that is kind of amazing. Especially considering most of the books in the series were regular residents of the bestseller list! But funny things happen in the bookstore, sometimes. Goodness knows I’ve walked into one many times with A Firm Idea of what I was getting only to end up with 4 other books, but not the one I originally was looking for! :-)

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  19. I am so thrilled to see fellow Robert Jordan fans here!! Yaaay!! A friend intoduced me to the series seven years ago and i havent looked back since. Promptly started building up my collection and happy to say i have nine books out of the whole volume but have read up to the 12th so looking forward to the last two :) I must say there were times I refused to finish a volume ‘cos I didn’t not have the net one and at other times did not sleep till I had reached the last page! Thanks for this ip down memory lane. Sure will miss Mat and Tuon, Rand of the many wives like a nigerian chief and Perrin and Faile, Elaine et al and not necessarily in that order :)

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Thanks! It’s always great when you connect with other WoT fans! Having finished the book now, I definitely find myself on unsteady ground, no longer waiting for the series to end. I’m still waiting on George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice to wrap up in the next few books, but honestly I don’t feel the same way about his characters as I did about Jordon’s. Time to find a new fantasy series with characters I can really love, I think. Good luck finishing the series!

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  20. Looks like I’m in good company…quit the series years ago. As others, you have inspired me to go back and pick up where I left off…it would only take a book and I’d be right back in it. I’ve carried those characters with me for so long ;-) this post brought back some wonderful memories, thank you.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Thank you! I hope you go back and finish the series, if only to get the ending that so many of us waiting soooo long to read. It’s definitely satisfying. Not perfect, and not exactly what I wanted, but still very satisfying!

      Like

  21. True story: I married a Fantasy Fiction guy, who handed me the book one when I was pregnant with my first baby. He neglected to tell me until I was on book 11 that Robert Jordan was dying and hadn’t written the end. I think I threw book 11 at him. Flash forward six years–I’m pregnant with baby #3 and husband says that someone was finishing the books. So I started over, in August of 2011, with book one. I finished book thirteen over Thanksgiving 2012, and waited patiently for January 8. I am 400 pages in, but after two nights of reading waaaay past my bedtime without even noticing, I have resolved to only read during daylight hours.

    I will come back to this series for the rest of my life. And we can’t wait to share it with our kids!

    Like

    • Jason says:

      That’s an awesome story, thank you for sharing it with me! I hope you find the ending as satisfying as I did (and yes, it’s definitely saddening too). Good luck!

      Like

  22. First off, I noticed that complete row of Harry Potter books on the shelf above.

    I’m not a huge fan of series, but I finished some and is working on completing others. I was extremely very satisfied with how Deathly Hallows concluded, but was also saddened after reading the last sentence knowing that there won’t any more coming. I was also glad that the final book in the Dark Tower series is already published, but I’m still a long way off since I was just done with Wizard & Glass. I finished all four books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series early last year, but is yet to acquire the fifth book: A Dance of Dragons. I have also read all six Thomas Covenant book, as well as books from Tony Hillerman and P.D. James, which usually feature the same protagonist(s) in their books.

    Quite a handful, still, but I dunno if I can start with another series at this point.

    Now on topic, I only have the first six WoT books, I finished The Fires of Heaven many years ago but has only acquired Lord of Chaos last year. The books are thick, I should say, reaching almost a thousand pages each, but it’s something to be grateful for IMO because you almost want each book not to finish. I love reliving Rand’s battle with a Forsaken in Tel’aranrhiod at the end of Book 5. Sadly though, at this rate, it will take 10 more years for me to finish this series. The only good thing about this is there’s no more waiting for me once I finished one book. :D

    Like

    • Jason says:

      The funniest thing is that it was years before I started reading the Potter series because I heard once that the WoT’s publisher held a release because it was too close to a Wheel release. Eventually, though, I quit being a spite idiot and gave Harry a chance…and was rewarded for it. Rowling did an exceptional job, and I was saddened, like you, knowing we’d never get to go back into that world. :-)

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  23. I really enjoyed reading your story. As I’m only 21 now, I certainly wasn’t there from the start; I only picked up on the books when a friend recommended the first one to me about 5 years ago. It’s been a bit of an on and off struggle to read them, and I’ve been “stuck” somewhere in the middle of the ninth for a while now (about a year or so, that is, haha), but reading this has made me so excited to continue reading and find out certain things… Especially some of the stuff that happened quite early on, I can’t wait to get an answer to those questions. It’s a great series, even the going is a bit slow sometimes. I wonder if my friend’ll finish it though – she gave up after the fifth or sixth book. Maybe now that the series is done :)

    Like

    • Jason says:

      It was definitely a challenge keeping up through the books that barely plodded along. I promise, though, if you can work your way into book 12, your patience and effort will be rewarded!

      Like

  24. OMG really – I loved the first few books but I’m sad to say that my attention wandered long ago. I think I read 8 or 9 of them – didn’t even make it to the big fight *sigh

    Please please write a review – with spoilers – I would love to know how it ends and I ‘m seriously too lazy to catch up

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Lol. Trust me, I know how you feel. I not sure I can summarize The End and do it justice. If you check out sites like Dragonmount.com, I’m pretty sure you’ll find what you’re looking for. :-)

      Like

  25. Great post!! I stopped at book 9 (I think) and have been waiting…now trying to figure out how to get all of the books and restart it all over again, this time while taking care of two boys. I look forward to the challenge.
    I also need to recommend Terry Brooks’ Shannara Series, which there are a few. Somehow I found the Sword of Shannara in my elementary library when I was in 6th grade, and have been reading fantasy ever since. Stephen King’s Dark Tower is note worthy and I have also just started reading Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen series, which has definitely raised the bar in epic fantasy, in my opinion that is.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Good luck finishing the Wheel of Time! I hope you find it worth the effort (especially with kids…I have 4 myself). I enjoyed the Dark Tower immensely myself, yet somehow have never read any of Brooks’ work. I’ll definitely add the Malazan to the to-read list, I’m always looking for a new, different take on fantasy. Thanks for sharing the recs!

      Like

      • Follow-up: Thanks to your post, I have downloaded The Eye of the World to my Kindle and am finding it difficult to keep track of my boys…something about Rand, Mat, and Perrin just keep me glued in.

        Like

      • Jason says:

        I’m glad to hear it! And I think your boys are probably safe, too. My mom was usually nose-first in a book when I was young, and I turned out fine. Well, mostly fine, anyway. :-)

        Like

    • Jason says:

      Thanks! I’d be happy to contribute, but I’m afraid time and words are all I’m willing to contribute. In the comment above you mentioned a £10.00 donation, which I’m not comfortable making. Thanks again, though!

      Like

  26. angrcs says:

    Whenever I talk about character development, I talk about Robert Jordan and this series. I’ve never read anything that can have so many characters, going so many different directions and I remember each one of them, even if they haven’t been in the series for a whole book. I will admit, I resigned myself at about book 9 or 10, to wait until the series was complete. I’ve waited longer than I thought. Now I need to put aside a month and start from the beginning.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      It’s interesting, I’ve thought, that one of the things that makes the Wheel of Time so interesting is also one of its major drawbacks. With so many characters and plot threads, it’s no surprise that the “middle books” bogged down quite a bit, barely inching the primary plot line forward. But on the other side of that coin, having SO many characters — with genuine voices and motivations — made the world unbelievably rich and easy to get lost in. Good luck getting to the end!

      Like

  27. Although I have enjoyed The Wheel of Time series, the book series that holds that place in my heart was the Deverry Cycle by Katharine Kerr. It was bitter sweet at the end of the series (16 books I think) and I recognized, as a writer, how really hard it is to finish such a long series well. She tied up all the loose ends, let us know life would go on in that world, but there was something missing and I can’t identify what. Maybe the characters weren’t done talking to her and she stuck Duck tape over their metaphoric mouths. I don’t know. As a writer, however, it did introduce me to something about endings that I need to contemplate and learn.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      I know what you mean. I’ve read series, too, where the major plot lines were resolved, but something didn’t seem quite finished. It’s like the characters still had some fundamental purpose they’d yet to fulfill even though the plot was wrapped up. In my writing, that’s how I came to realize my first novel needed to be a series rather than a single book.

      Somehow, I’ve missed the Deverry Cycle all these years. I’ll have to add them to my to-be-read list! Thanks!

      Like

      • I’m working on a series myself that wasn’t originally supposed to be one, but the characters just won’t shut up and stop and they’re still living interesting lives, so …. I direct the story, but they live it, which sounds a little a little schizophrenic, but fellow writers over on Authonomy tell me this is standard among writers.

        On the other hand, I’ve had characters that just stopped “living” and left me to finish their stories. Why? I have no idea.

        Like

      • Jason says:

        I know exactly how you feel. When I first started writing this blog, I occasionally did “random fiction” posts. One of those kept going, continued post after post, until I had the start of my novel. In the course of writing it, even though I’d outlined it solidly, a time or two what I’d expected to be throwaway characters suddenly developed lives that were important to the story. I haven’t come across the opposite, yet, though.

        Like

      • It very disconcerting if an extremely active character just stops. Sometimes though, it’s because they died. I have two characters in The Willow Branch that die unexpectedly. Both are great characters I would like to develop further, but the only imaginations I get from them are from before their deaths in the book. They died and they don’t exist afterward. On the other hand, I have a character in the same book who, when I last saw him (same for the reader) he was facing death, but he won’t tell me what happened next. I’ve tried to write his execution and it feels wrong. I’ve tried to write his exoneration and … well, that doesn’t feel right either. So, as the creator, I find myself sticking a pin in it and saying to myself “watch this space”. I can force events and create kingdoms, but characters either live in my imagination or they don’t and I don’t know there’s much I can do about it.

        Like

  28. I was introduced to the series by my cousin…kind of. She introduced it to my older brother when I was in middle school and I sort of picked it up from there. The Eye of The World still remains my absolute favorite book ever, not just my favorite in the series. I have reread it so many times now that it’s quite literally falling apart. I’ve also reread the first six books multiple times.

    Unfortunately the next book has never been able to keep me. I’ve tried so many times and it makes me sad that I’ve never been through all of book 7 (or was it book 8? I can’t keep track of this!) That’s partly why I’ve reread the first 6 books so many times; I can’t stand to not know all the plots and subplots and exactly what’s happening to each and every character. My cousin suggested wiki-ing it, but that takes away from the pleasure of reading. I read it to enjoy the reading experience, it’s not just about the story you know?

    I bought the last and final book for my brother for his birthday, he’s one of the few I know who’ve been able to stick to it, and he’s reading it currently. Now that it is actually finished, I definitely plan on going back and re-reading the whole thing. Only thing that bothers me is that it’s not just one book where absolutely nothing happens, it’s multiple books, and most of them are chronological. So I can’t force myself through one boring book with the promise of a better book just around the corner. Each boring book is followed by another boring book, four or five times!

    Still, nothing beats the greatness of Robert Jordan’s writing and story. I have been with it for almost a decade and a half now. Can’t wait to relive the journey!

    Like

    • Jason says:

      I know exactly how you feel, especially with books 7, 8, and 9. Those are some of the hardest to get through when I’m re-reading the series. Part of that is because I keep expecting something MAJOR to happen, and it isn’t until the very end of book 9 that something DOES happen. What made the progression of the series even harder for me, personally, was Rand. Of the three boys coming out of Emond’s Field, he was my favorite. But then watching him descend into darkness and become so constantly angry, etc, was frustrated, at best, if not all-out off-putting. Thankfully, **potentially vaguely spoilery here** there’s a thing that happens with regard to that helps.

      At any rate, I hope you manage to plod through book 7 eventually and enjoy the rest of the series. It really does end well; it’s quite a fitting finale for the road they started down in The Eye of the World.

      Like

  29. gabrielwqh says:

    Reblogged this on Poke My Mon and commented:
    Reading this post has made me want to start on this series, one I’ve heard so much about through the years but never thought I’d have the patience to try. So making that one of my resolutions for the year.

    Like

  30. Just stumbled upon this post…and I must say, I could have written this exact same article in terms of my mixed feelings leading up to reading the very last installment of WoT. I’m finishing another book currently, and then the last leg of my 14 year long relay will begin, and end. Sigh. Thank you for echoing my emotions. :)

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Honestly, I’m a little surprised to find how many people were feeling all the same feels I was with the release of A Memory of Light. Hopefully, you’ll find in the end, as I did, a worthy conclusion to the story begun all those years ago in The Eye of the World. Good luck, I hope you enjoy it!

      Like

  31. Twenty-one years, wow! I’m interested in hearing how your experience with “A Memory of Light” goes. You know a book series is impactful when our day-to-day memories are held in conjunction with what we’ve read at the time. I appreciate that you can acknowledge the imperfections such as the ‘running-in-place’ and still hold such an affinity with the characters and their story. I hope that Texas-sized lump swells to global proportions.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      I tore through A Memory of Light like a man possessed. I might have gotten entirely too little sleep that week for my own good. It was worth it, though, definitely. Now I think I might need to read it again to find all the subtle nuances every WoT book seems to have that you never catch until a 2nd time through.

      And yes, there were quite a few lumps, at leastTexas-sized. No story is perfect, and the WoT is no exception. But it was darned good.

      Like

  32. Jes Schultz Borland says:

    I found you via “Freshly Pressed”, and had to share my story.

    In 7th grade, Angela handed me her paperback copy of The Eye of the World. I was hooked. I bought all of the books. I read them through middle and high school and then the waiting for Winter’s Heart began. I’ve waited for each new book for the last 12 years.

    Last January, in preparation for the last book coming out, I decided to start the series over, every book, cover to cover. It is like visiting old friends and catching up with their stories. I’m mad Jordan didn’t spend more time developing the Nynaeve/Lan story. I fall in love with Mat all over again. I laugh and I sniffle. These were friends, growing up. I too feel bittersweet about their stories “ending”.

    I met Robert Jordan, once. It was the fall of 2000, right after Winter’s Heart was released. My best friend and I got out of work early and drove three hours to a hole-in-the-wall book store in Chicago. We stood in line to get numbers, and then He was there, and Harriet, and I was trembling. When it was my turn, I could hardly speak. I was so awed that I was in the presence of one of the great storytellers…and my best friend was laughing, telling him, “She’s never speechless. This is quite a moment.” I finally got the courage to talk, and we did. There were so few people in the store we were even able to get a second number and get another book signed. I treasure those books above all others.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      That’s a fantastic story, thank you for sharing it! I know exactly how you feel. I went to my first RJ signing for Knife of Dreams (sadly, his last round of them), and I was the very definition of a deer in headlines when I got the table. Being an aspiring writer myself, there were hundreds of things I could have/wanted to ask him, but suddenly I became Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” agreeing with Santa that a football is a pretty good gift. Eventually I asked something remarkably inane and left, clutching my signed copies of Knife of Dreams, The Great Hunt, and clinging to whatever shreds of dignity I could still manage. But that was okay, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

      That is the one thing about signings that have always been hard for me. I want chat with the authors I appreciate and admire, not blurt out a 60-second question. But, that’s life, I suppose. :-)

      Like

  33. megankillian says:

    I started reading WoT last year, per my husband’s recommendations, and it was my second dabble into the fantasy realm of literature. Prior to starting Eye of the World, I read what is available of the series “A Song of Ice and Fire”- which was generally great, but I wanted more. He wasn’t convinced I would like WoT because it wasn’t as risque as Game of Thrones, but whatever. i gave it a shot. And I LOVE it. I am so excited to have started a series that I will be able to finish (verdict is still out on the ASOIAF series, if GRRM dies). Plus, its a bit more tame but still fully engulfs the reader with the environment and action and story of the characters. It’s fantastic. I am stoked! I wrote a post about it a few weeks ago when my husband received the culminating book, and I still have years to go before I will get there… but I’m ok with that :) http://mlkillian.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/what-ill-be-reading-for-the-next-five-years/

    Like

    • Jason says:

      I’ve been reading “A Song of Fire and Ice” as well, and it’s a great series too, although I’m beginning to wonder if maybe it wouldn’t have been better off being a little less epic. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to care much for the characters that remain. That said, I’m definitely looking forward to
      “The Winds of Winter”. Good luck reading through the Wheel of Time! I’ll keep you posted if I read any other great fantasy series I think everyone should read. :-)

      Like

  34. I used to love the Wheel of Time series when I was in high school. Actually, I was pretty much obsessed with it. I read up through Winter’s Heart and then quit because the story was just getting too stupid for me. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish the series or not. It got to the point where the story didn’t move along and the characters were behaving like idiots, instead of rational adults. So I moved on to other books instead, which I ultimately have enjoyed a lot more than anything Robert Jordan has written. That said, I’ll always have a special place in my heart for WoT, since it was the first epic fantasy series I ever read and is what got me hooked on the genre.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      I certainly can’t argue with you there. And the “behaving like idiots” thing was, honestly, more difficult for me than in some spots than the seeming interminable wait for something to happen. Thankfully, both issues do get resolved in the end, but you’re definitely not alone in calling it quits.

      What other epic fantasy series have you read? I’m waiting, like so many others, for Martin’s “A Song of Fire and Ice” to progress a bit, but otherwise I find myself without an epic fantasy series to read at the moment. I’d love to hear suggestions!

      Like

    • Jason says:

      It’s interesting, I always thought it was a bad thing that the WoT series stretched out across so much time, but one of the commenters pointed out that some much-beloved series started and finished much more quickly, kind of to the detriment of the readers. Sure, the wait to get the all-important conclusion wasn’t decades-long, but, for instance, with the Potter series, the overall time people had the story of those characters in their lives was much shorter than the time I got to live with the Wheel of Time. It kind of put the long wait into a new context for me, and part of me, at least, is sort of glad now that it took so long to reach the end!

      Like

      • The stories we love are always a part of us, even after we’ve read the last word of the last story. We re-visit, and we meet new series that we compare our favorite stories to.
        By the way, my favorite of the series was Book 5: Fires of Heaven.
        While the Wheel of Time Series has its flaws, I think it has converted many to the realm of fantasy fiction. For that alone, it should be respected.

        Like

      • Jason says:

        That’s a good point that I’ve never much considered. The Wheel of Time absolutely, if nothing else, brought a lot of people to fantasy that hadn’t ever considered it beyond maybe a high school reading of Tolkien. And the Fires of Heaven is a good one. :-)

        Like

  35. I started reading this series when I was in college in the fall of either 2003 or 2004 (I have the first 10 in paperback and then caught up to the series and I have Knife of Dreams in hardcover). I’ve talked about it on my blog before, this series is the reason that I read books today. Although I haven’t been waiting the entire lifespan of the series for the ending (granted, I was 7 when EotW came out) I’ve been eagerly awaiting A Memory of Light.

    As it is, I’m about halfway through Winter’s Heart as I write this, and I can’t wait to get to AMoL. I bought it the day it came out, and I got chills when I first picked up the book. I’ve enjoyed the first two books that Sanderson wrote in the series, and I cannot wait to read the end, which is why I’m going to stop typing now so I can go read.

    Like

    • Also, I love seeing all of the books in hardcover sitting next to each other. I’m eventually going to buy all of the books in hardcover, and I’m also going to get a full set of the trade paperback books that have the ebook covers.

      Like

      • Jason says:

        Oh, and yes, the Wheel of Time is one of my “special series” that required a full set of hardcovers. They weren’t all hardback to begin with, so I had to go back and add some to the collection years later. So I know exactly how you feel. :-)

        Like

  36. I only found out about this series on the last two years (I know, what rock have I been living under??) I was actually reading Brandon Sanderson’s books and found this series after looking for more of his work and hearing that he had been hand-picked to finish this series. I figured I should start at the beginning if the last book was coming out soon, so I’ve been making my way through the entire series slowly for the last 6 months. Now I need to get my butt in gear to finish it now that the last one has been released! (I’m almost done with Path of Daggers)

    I too like the matching set of books. The only series I have that match like that are Harry Potter (the first book came out when I was 11 years old) and Chronicles of Narnia. My entire set of Wheel of Time are E-books, so I won’t even have such a nice looking shelf :( But that’s ok, I’m all out of room on my bookshelf anyway.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Don’t feel bad about your WoT being eBook. I used to be a die hard “I must own ALL ZE BOOKS” kind of guy, but I’ve moved enough times now…and moves all those $%@$%%ing heavy books that I’m okay letting my electronic library grow! Hope you get to AMoL soon, but don’t hurry too fast or you’ll miss the fun!

      Like

  37. I started A Memory of Light a little later than the release date because I wanted to go through the chapter summaries on EWOT first, get myself refreshed and all. I finished it tonight and, I’ll admit, a tear came to my eye.

    You are absolutely right: these characters become your family. And a lot of that has to do with Jordan’s unique style. I know it seemed to drag on forever, but that was the beauty of this series. You could get totally immersed in the world.

    Furthermore, it was his lengthy style that allowed for some of the most seamless character development I’ve ever had the good fortune to read. Think about it: the Two Rivers crew started from naive farm boys and ended leaders of the world. And did you ever feel like the transition was jarring or asymmetrical? I know I didn’t. For me, it was at the end of Lord of Chaos when I realized how far they had come (think of Rand trying to get Tam to town after the trolloc attack and then Rand exploding from the box in Dumai’s Wells….big change!).

    Anywho, I’m probably going to be writing my own review soon, so I’ll leave some of my thoughts for it, but this was a great post to read!

    Sincerely,
    Julien Haller

    Like

    • Jason says:

      Thanks for sharing your first thoughts. You’re absolutely right, as much as people tend to complain about Jordan’s, um, long-windedness, those five characters came out of Emond’s Field as nobodies and grew into roles that had them leading the world in The Last Battle. And at no point was there any finger-snapping or hand-waving where they suddenly went from unknown to being in charge. Each step was carefully laid out along a (well, fairly long) path that culminated in the battle we all wanted so many years ago in A Memory of Light. That’s a great point!

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  38. everythingsnyze says:

    This is way out of the topic but I can’t help but noticed the Harry Potter books at the top. I’m a big fan! Hooray for reading! Cheers 😊

    Like

    • Jason says:

      It’s funny, I refused to read Harry Potter for the longest time because I’d read somewhere that Tor delayed a Wheel of Time release at one point so it wouldn’t conflict with a Potter release that same season. In retrospect that was probably foolishness, but at least I’ve made amends and did finally read the whole Potter series. And yes, I thought they were everything people said they were. Rowlings did a tremendous job with the characters and the world just slightly behind the curtain of our own. I enjoyed them a ton and am sad that series is finished, as well!

      Like

      • everythingsnyze says:

        Awww. It also broke my heart when the series is finished. I am still hoping though that Rowling will continue the story but on the other hand I doubt it since it will be such an overkill already. Do you also think so?

        Like

  39. Reynard Noir says:

    I remember being confused that I was supposed to hate all the incidental details and worldbuilding. Why was everyone so against just reading about some Magic Nuns? Reading about some Magic Nuns sounds pretty sweet.

    Like

    • Jason says:

      It is funny, I think, that the thing most people complain about when they talk about WoT is the complexity of incidental details and world-building. But in the end, subconsciously at least, that’s what makes the series so compelling. Yes, there’s a ton of detail, but that’s what give the world life and breath. And, if you ask me, most of it is delivered fairly subtly, as needed in the current context, rather than info-dumped in pages and pages of dry explanation. I remember reading Moby Dick for the first time, and coming across this ridiculous (and seemingly never-ending) essay about whaling practices in Melville’s time. Thank goodness Jordan was a master at describing the world without that kind of nonsense!

      Like

  40. I know exactly how you feel! The bottom shelf shelf of my bookcase is also reserved for all things “Wheel of Time”. Its such a great series and I always recommend the books to anyone looking for a fun quick read. Great post!

    Like

      • Pretty much just WoT and Dune. I’ve been moving around a lot lately. So, my shelves aren’t as organized as they should be. :) How about you? I’m looking for a few new highly recommended series to get into. Any suggestions?
        ~Anne

        Like

  41. I can’t believe the last book is coming out. I almost want to read it. I stopped around book 10 or 11 because the books seemed to have lost their magic and the plot just dragged. I read Eye of the World (still my favorite of the series) when I was 13- the books had already been out for several years before then. I’m now almost 30!! My dad has stayed a fan of the books till the very end!

    Like

  42. I began reading the Eye of the World when I was 15. I thought it was boring so I set it aside for 2 years. My mom loved the series and had at least 6 books at that time. When I was 17 I was bored beyond belief and had run out of books to read. I picked up Eye of the World again and decided to give it a fair chance. I can’t believe there will not be another Wheel of Time book coming out in a few years. I have spend 11 years of my life waiting to get my hand on the next one. Robert Jordan was such an amazing author. He remains my favorite.

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