After over two decades since picking up the first book in this series of 14 (15, including the prequel), I have finally managed to finish reading all the books! Actually, I finished over a week ago, and have simply been allowing it all to sink in before writing about it. Since I don’t believe in spoilers, anyone who hasn’t read the Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, won’t have to worry about this post (or any of its comments, please). If you are a fan of the fantasy genre, and have yet to finish or even start the series, I can only recommend that you do so. This post is meant as a follow-up to my first post about these books; and I stand behind everything I wrote in that post, except in my comparison between Tolkien and Jordan. In that comparison, I said that I felt at times Tolkien seemed awkward in this writing – this was a poor choice of words on my behalf. While Tolkien was an undisputed master of the English language (and language, in general), it is his storytelling that seems at times awkward to me, in comparison to Jordan’s. Robert Jordan possessed an ability to make his stories and characters approachable; which lent a lot for the credibility of the stories, themselves.
The main thing I wanted to address with this post, though, was the question I began re-reading the series with: how would Jordan’s death, along with Sanderson’s taking over the series’ concluding books, affect the overall series? This question has obviously been answered for me; and while I still regret Jordan’s passing, what Sanderson did with what was left to him was nothing short of brilliant. In fact, if I had been unaware of what happened to Robert Jordan, I might have seen the transition of authors’ voices – from the more experienced and older voice through the series’ development, to the younger voice that marked the conclusion – as part of an ingenious plan, and wholly appropriate. It helps greatly that, while Brandon Sanderson stated from the beginning that he had no intention of trying to mimic Jordan’s writing style, Sanderson was himself deeply influenced as a teenager when reading Jordan’s works. This influence shows itself – reading Sanderson’s words in this series, it seemed to me as though I were reading someone very similar to Jordan, though younger, in a way that did not seem at all contrived.
I plan, eventually, to re-read the series. It’s been a genuine luxury to have had them all sitting on a shelf, waiting for me to finish one before moving on to the next; and I intend to enjoy this luxury again. For now, though, I am concentrating on other things in my free time – training for my Rabenweg pilgrimage, teaching myself to play the ocarina, and a few other scattered interests – and getting hooked on a new series of books is something I don’t have time for right now. Besides, having enjoyed the luxury of starting a series with all the books in the series already sitting on a shelf, I think I would like to try the same with any new series I might start. I am thinking long and hard about picking up George R.R. Martin’s series … from what I have read elsewhere, it’s a great series, where the author takes plenty of time between books, and the series is not yet finished. Like with Robert Jordan, Martin originally envisioned his series as being much smaller than it has already become … for me, it would be worth it to wait until at least his seventh (planned) book is published, to see whether or not the series grows from that point. This will also mean avoiding the television series. For now, I think this won’t be a problem for me – as I said, my free time is limited, and focused in different directions.
And, in closing this post, it would be inappropriate if I did not express my sincere gratitude to Mr. Jordan and Mr. Sanderson, for having made possible what I consider to be the greatest high fantasy series possible. My first experience with fantasy writing was Karl Edward Wagner’s Conan novel (The Road of Kings), when I was about 12 years-old. From there, I absorbed the Kane series by Wagner, as well as the Conan series from Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp (as well as the original works from Conan’s creator, Robert E. Howard). I read everything from R.A. Salvatore in his writing for Forgotten Realms, and loved all of it. Terry Brooks, J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Goodkind, C.S. Lewis, all authors I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and would happily read over and over (some of which, I already have read over and over). As far as I’m concerned, this list includes some (but not all) of the finest talent I’ve had the pleasure of reading in any genre … Brandon Sanderson, and especially Robert Jordan, now top this list.