Earlier this year, the final book came out of a series that I have been reading most of my adult life. Its author never lived to see the final books published. The Wheel of Time is a master work and is a treatment of the Epic in prose form for the modern age.
I have spent the last several years at a library desk looking for people that were interested in The Lord of the Rings books or were piqued by The Chronicles of Narnia now that they’ve seen the movie, grown-up teenagers who were ready for something else after finishing Harry Potter and Eragon, and the recent onslaught of viewers ready to see what Tyrion is going to do next and not able to wait for the next installment of The Game of Thrones; I have seen all of these people come in looking for the next adventure in epic fantasy and I’ve asked them, “have you heard of the Wheel of Time?”
The Wheel of Time is a 14 book epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan. Jordan began the books in 1990 with The Eye of the World. The story opens at the Bel Tine festival in the village of the Two Rivers. Bel Tine normally welcomes the coming of Spring. But Spring is late this year and there are unexpected visitors in the village for the festival: Padan Fain the peddler, an extravagant gleeman named Thom, and an Aes Sedai (named by some as the witches) and her Warder.
In the dark after the festival Trollocs attack. Trollocs are fabled creatures of myth: horrible, looming creatures that go on two legs with the body of a man and the head of a boar, a hawk, or a goat. But they prove all too real as they sweep the Two Rivers, killing, burning, and destroying the peace of the quiet village.
Moiraine Sedai and her warder, Lan, provide aid where they can to defend the village, but the altercation pushes her purpose out into the open. The Trolloc raid is something that has not been seen in the area of the Two Rivers in hundreds of years. The Trollocs are after something very specific. Or rather, they are after someone: three boys, born weeks apart, are the focus of all the destruction. With some urging from Moiraine Sedai, the boys agree to leave the small village for the sanctuary of Tar Valon, the city built as an edifice to the One Power, the power of the Aes Sedai.
Thus begins a journey that takes the reader through fourteen books and the boys through three years in storytime and many layers of character and plot. The books of the series are varied, and there are standouts in the story development, but one things always rings true: each one benefits from additional readings.
As I mentioned, in January the final book, A Memory of Light, came out, and it is a satisfying conclusion. Its publication, however, was not without its moments of uncertainty. In 2007, Robert Jordan died of cardiac amyloidosis. At the time of his death, he was one book short of a 12 book saga (his intention). Jordan left extensive notes and scene work for the final book. The task of finishing the series would fall to Jordan’s widow and another author, Brandon Sanderson, to finish. One book, in a somewhat characteristic Jordan-esque style, took three novels to complete.
The release of A Memory of Light in January saw many fans breathe a sigh of relief and contentment. The Wheel of Time series is grand on a scale of mountains. It contains battles, magic, sacrifice, long-waged wars, betrayal, love, friendship, deception, and the struggle to maintain the human spirit in the face of uncertain odds.
I am unsure that my lifetime will see another wielder of the fantasy epic such as Jordan was and it pained me immensely as I closed the final pages of A Memory of Light to know that it was well, and truly, finished.
And then I open The Eye of the World, and the Dragon rides again on the winds of time.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. . . . There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
About the Author
Melissa Carle is a Support Specialist with the KC-LSP and thinks life is too short to read a book that doesn't excite you in the first 40 pages. She likes cooking, herb gardening, and, of course, reading and thinks all good books, fiction and non-fiction alike, share one thing in common: they're just a good yarn.