I remember when I first saw The Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. It was about ten years ago when The Path Of Daggers had already come out in paperback. I have no idea how I had missed this series, but I remember looking at this turnstile in this grocery store and seeing all the paperbacks that were available. It was one of the many series coming out at the time that felt they needed as many pages in each volume as the Bible itself, but this one actually was attractive to me.
I was completely enthralled by the cover of The Path Of Daggers. This image of some crusader like army marching with this “king” of sorts with a sword before him and the two flags with one being the yin-yang symbol – yet not being one as the dots weren’t there to make it a true yin-yang – and all the armor and other details of just the painting and the title of the series “The Wheel of Time” which seemed to give credence to why there would be an almost yin-yang symbol…..well all of that just captivated me so much that I just wanted to take that book right then and there and start reading it.
But I didn’t.
I’m just too much of a person that if something is in a series I know that I’m going to start at the beginning. And you want to know the weird thing? None of the other covers of the books that came before quite captivated me like that one did. The others were nice enough, but none seemed to capture for me what seemed to be the essence of “The Wheel Of Time” with this menagerie of images that seemed to be gathered from various spots in time and Earth’s history and various locations to be collected in one cover of one book, and here I am standing in the grocery store holding the book I’d never looked at before then, and I’m making this judgment of what is the “essence” of this series – and I hadn’t even read one word of it yet.
I really, really, oh for Jesus’ sake, you just don’t know how much I really wanted to pick up that book The Path of Daggers, but I knew that if I did, I’d need the other ones, and I just didn’t have enough money to get them all, and I didn’t want to get the first one and not be able to later on get the rest leading up to (what I erroneously thought of at the time) the “last” novel that I was so interested in reading. Heck, I’d seen enough fantasy and sci-fi series come and go, I wasn’t in the mood to start yet something else only to have it ruined because I couldn’t finish it. Same reason I didn’t start the Dune novels until Frank Herbert’s son Brian and his co-author Kevin J. Anderson picked it up and wrote the prequels and then the finale a few years back based on Frank’s detailed notes.
And you want to know something else that sort of contributed to me not picking up the first book? As I mentioned, and most of you should know, this was one of those series where each volume seemed to want to rival the Bible in page numbers, and here I’m looking at not just one book, but eight books I would have to read of fairly equal length, and here I was at the time still trying to work my way through The Stand – The Complete and Uncut Version by Stephen King and had been working on that one on and off for a couple of years. So yeah, even though I was deeply attracted to and captivated by the cover of The Path Of Daggers, I was equally overwhelmed by so much to have to read just to get to the one book I was wanting to read.
So then I wind up back in Florida (I had stayed there for a year a few years before then), and over the time of another couple of years, I see the books of The Wheel of Time series added to, and I get a chance to talk with some people who are reading them. The opinions varied from “too confusing” to “can’t get enough”. All I knew was that I was still interested in this series and wanted to know why the items portrayed on the cover of The Path Of Daggers were the way they were. So I finally broke down and in 2003 I bought the first two books in paperback even though I wasn’t able to buy all of them. I started reading the first book, and admittedly, I had a bit of trouble getting through the beginning. It was so much deeper and richer than even Tolkien right from the first few pages. I was overwhelmed again.
After stopping it and starting it a couple of times, I finally got past Chapter 3 and really got into the novel. This all happened during a nine month lease I had at this apartment complex. By the time my lease was up, I was about half way through the first novel and feeling pretty durn good about myself with it.
Then events changed, and for the next three years I was unable to pick up that copy of the novel because it was not near me. Later, things came back to where I could have it again (the same copy I had originally purchased mind you, even though it wasn’t near me didn’t mean it wasn’t in my “possession”), and a friend of mine that was needing something good to read and didn’t have any books and didn’t have money or transportation seemed like he was in greater need than I, so I told him a bit about this book I had began some time back but hadn’t had a chance to pick up in some time, and when he liked the sound of it, I gave him both of the books I had purchased three years before and he later told me how much he was enjoying reading them. That made me happy. I figured I’d always get the paperbacks again one day since by that time I had already long figured out that it didn’t seem to be one of those fly by night series that I had initially been worried about when I first noticed it.
Shortly after that, I became a part of a book club and when I found out I was able to order hardback copies (which I had seen hardbacks in the store but didn’t think I could get them) and just pay it back upon receipt, and when I saw what a good deal I was getting by getting all of the series that was available at the time, well, you know I ordered them. It seemed that good favor had come on me by giving away the two books I originally had in paperback and now I had all up to The Path Of Daggers and beyond. ;)
So, I got started reading again, and was in the middle of my second book when I heard the news of Robert Jordan’s passing. It was then that I discovered that Robert Jordan was but a pen name for James Oliver Rigney Jr. and I was completely blown away by how this impacted me. I mean, first I was wondering what kind of family the man may have left behind – if any – that he felt the need to write such a vast and complex series (just within the relatively little that I had read at that point) under a pen name. I wondered if there might be a son that would later come along and take over like Brian Herbert had done for his dad, or Christopher Tolkien had been doing for a long time for his dad, or even how it already seemed that Todd McCaffrey is already doing for his mother as she gets older. I figured if this was the case it would occur much later on like at least a decade or so later. I knew I’d wind up reading the rest of the series just because I had already read too much to not do so, but I was sooo disappointed that this would be yet another series I’d probably never see the end of, and I had no idea if there was an heir or not.
Then, not very long at all after the news of his death, I hear news that I most certainly didn’t expect to hear so soon, that another author would continue and finish the series.
What? Really? So soon? Wow.
I figured that maybe Jordan had picked someone before he died, but later I found out his widow had picked this author, and I had never heard of this fellow before, a guy named Brandon Sanderson. I was quite surprised that an author was on the scene so quickly for this series. But Jordan’s widow had picked him, and it seemed she was very invested in her late husband’s work, so I figured she would be the best to pick a successor if anyone was. So, with the hope renewed that I would indeed see the end of this series, I shrugged my shoulders and began reading again, here and there, as I went on to find other books and new series to explore in the meantime.
I’ve now witnessed two new books hit the store shelves with the names of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson on them, and I have been reading Sanderson’s blog for several months now keeping track of things there too, and I even downloaded his free novel that he has on his site to try him out. (Sanderson’s blog is one of the Top 10 Blogs that I’m following this year that you can see the complete list of here) And that brings me up to this year where I have now decided that I am going to finish through all of the original Jordan novels (and thus finally reach that book that still captivates me so much with its cover painting), and see if I can also get through the two Sanderson co-authored entries before the last one hits the store shelves by the end of the year.
Not only that, but I have Sanderson’s Jordan-inspired The Way of Kings on my shelf waiting to be read so that I can start yet another long series of books with each volume seemingly trying to outdo the Bible in number of pages. ;)
And indeed, Jordan’s expansive story is very inspiring and I’ve recently started having some ideas of a huge sci-fi epic with many books that are so thick, but it’s such a small germ of an idea at this point that I will most certainly have to work on it in order to bring it up anywhere close to the standard set by someone like Jordan. And of course, to really see how encompassing his overall story is, I must finish the series that he started and that I’ve heard good things of how Brandon Sanderson seems to be finishing so well. And my goal is to do that this year.
And the books by Jordan and Sanderson aren’t the only ones I have scheduled to read this year. I’m right now in the middle of an ARC of Hellhole – the first of an original trilogy by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson that in March will be available in stores – and the third and final book of Kevin J. Anderson’s Terra Incognita trilogy will be out this summer, and with both April and October there will be about six more Marcher Lord Press novels to read, not to mention however many various surprises Grace Bridges will bring us from Splashdown Books, and both Mike Duran and Greg Mitchell each have debut novels out next month, and who knows what else just might come along that will catch my attention? Not to mention that I still need to finish reading the complete Dune saga and do some more re-reads after that for the extensive overall review and individual reviews that I intend to do about that series.
So it’s quite clear that I have a lot of reading to do this year.
Hope I can get it all done. Time will tell as the Wheel turns. ;)