I’m Giving Up on The Wheel of Time

/ Books /

I’m making it official: I’m giving up on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga.

I’m really pretty disappointed with this decision, because there are a lot of reasons why I like the series, including:

  1. Interesting plot. The fate of the world is on the shoulders of a bunch of kids from a small town. It’s a classic underdog scenario, but a well-loved classic. I also like the whole “wheel of time” concept too.
  2. Rich world. Jordan’s a pretty talented world-builder. There are a lot of rich cultures and interesting locales that add a lot of depth to the story.
  3. Brandon Sanderson. I recently read and enjoyed the Mistborn trilogy. I have full confidence that the finale of the series is capable hands, now that the reigns have been handed off with Jordan’s passing. I want to see how it ends and how Sanderson’s touch affects the story.

Unfortunately, there are several key factors that are making this completely impossible. To start with, I can’t get through the 5th book, Fires of Heaven. But it’s the same reasons that are preventing me from finishing that book that have made me decide to quit, including:

  1.  The series is too long. 14 books is a lot.
  2. Each book is too long. The paperbacks tend to be 800 pages or more.
  3. Not enough happens to keep my interest. I can’t read a novel like Brent Week’s The Way of Shadow which is full of so many twists and turns that it makes your head spin, and then read The Wheel of Time which pauses over every detail and moves at a sluggish pace.
  4. The writing is terrible. There, I said it. Robert Jordan has a great imagination, but his writing is not up to snuff with the fantasy authors that I really enjoy.
  5. There’s no trust. The characters constantly lie to and keep secrets from each other. Instead of working together, they are constantly at odds, even though they are all working towards the same goal. That’s just stupid and it’s not a good enough reason to draw out the plot.
  6. All the women are cruel. Seriously. There isn’t a single female character that is likable in the slightest bit. They are so mean and stubborn that I don’t even understand how the human race survives.
  7. All the men are morons. Apparently, men are completely incapable of understanding women at all. It’s almost offensive.
  8. There’s no romance. I never thought I would need this in a book, but, damn, you can’t have that much sexual tension and no action.
  9. There’s no action. The world is in an uproar and all we get is one, maybe two fights a book. And these are long books. I need more battles, more fights, more ambushes, more scuffles…just give me some action, man!
  10. I’m really sick of reading about dresses.

There are more reasons, minor ones that also contribute. For example, the reason I had to stop reading Fires of Heaven was a scene between Siuan Sanche and several Aes Sedai. Siuan, the former Seat, has been stilled and the Aes Sedai now see her as completely and utterly useless. How is that even remotely possible? How can an entire group of seemingly intelligent and powerful women think that, just because a woman can no longer access the Power, that she has no more use? Was her brain also melted? No. Then, why?

I don’t know, but it’s that kind of terrible writing that has made me decide to stop reading the series. Like I said, I really enjoyed the overall plot and world, so if you can get past the little things, then you’ll probably actually enjoy the series. I can’t so I guess I’m just going to have to read the plot summaries and call it good enough.

I Blame Robert Jordan

/ Books /

So I haven’t posted in awhile and rather than make an excuse like being too busy or simply admit that I’ve been too lazy or perhaps even some combination of the two, I’ll take the high road and put the blame on another man’s shoulders, namely Robert Jordan.

If you have even dabbled in reading the fantasy genre, then you have heard of one of the great epic series, the Wheel of Time. The series was started back in 1990. At the time, I was 6 years old and my favorite pastime was watching G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoons. Today, the 13th volume of the series has been published with the 14th and final novel is on the horizon.

The series was originally conceived as a 12 novel series, but Jordan became ill and passed away while still working on the final novel. Apparently Jordan did not want to see the series left unfinished (and I’m betting the publishers didn’t either) and fantasy “newcomer” Brandon Sanderson was selected to pen the final novel from Jordan’s notes.

Brandon Sanderson is best known for his Mistborn trilogy, but also considers the Wheel of Time series as one of his major inspirations. I recently read the first installment and it really was very good. When he came to the table and began looking through Jordan’s note, he realized that there was no way he could cram all of the remaining story into one novel so he turned the final novel into a trilogy, resulting in a 14 novel series.

Well, a few years ago when I was gearing up for a long flight to Alaska, I picked up The Eye of the World for the trip. To Jordan’s credit, though there were some pretty obvious allusions to Tolkien’s work, it was pretty awesome.

Since then, I’ve been gradually making my way through the series. Around Christmas, I started up the fourth novel, The Shadow Rising. After several weeks of making little progress, I decided that in order to finish the 980 page paperback in any reasonable amount of time, that I would need to really devote myself to it. And that’s what I did. I read during lunch, I read at the gym, I read before bed. I neglected my computer and my oh-so-wonderful blog and now you see why I blame Robert Jordan.

Admittedly, it was pretty good, but it was also really long and somewhere around page 600, I was ready for something new. I struggled to stay interested at times, but I kept at it and I’m glad I did. Like I said, it was good, I just wish it was a couple hundred pages shorter.

Will I read volume 5? Hell yeah. Not only do I feel compelled to because I own it or because I have devoted so much time already, but I genuinely want to know what happens next. However, the wiki page for the series has some interesting statics for the series that might make me think again. Check this:

  • Total pages: 11,308
  • Total words: 4,062,312
  • Audio playback: 17d 11h 30m

That means if I keep reading at my current pace, which is about one a year, I won’t finish until 2021. I’ll be 37. Wow.

Now given, these numbers aren’t exactly accurate because they had to estimate the length of the upcoming 14th novel, but holy crap…over 17 straight days to listen to the series. That’s insane and I’ve committed to reading the rest of the series. Well, I suppose it’s good to have perspective.