I last wrote about the Wheel of Time series in August of 2012. I was so young then, just an idealistic youth, naïve to the struggles of the real world with nary a worry for me to write about. Well, no. Not really. I just wasn’t a father then so that’s what it felt like. Now, two years later, with an almost-2 year old running around, I look back at that Danny from August 2012 and think “Wasn’t it so much simpler then? When you could sit and read a book for two hours straight and not feel like you were wasting precious child-bonding time?” (Or sleep. Like you were wasting even more precious catch-up-on-sleep time but….you know, go parents!) Anyway, here I am now, June of 2014, older and wiser, busy and seemingly always tired. In those two years, even with the added responsibilities, I did make it through a pretty steady rotation of books. While fitting in a healthy dose of non-Robert Jordan written books, I made it from Jordan’s second Wheel of Time book, “The Great Hunt”, to book eight of the series (come on, book eight. That’s a lot!). Then my mind shut off, outside distractions took over, and I had to put it down. Not just the book, but the whole series. And I remember that moment very well. I was reading in bed after a long day and I found myself in that place of having re-read the same page four times, and retaining nothing. Names blurred, sentences ran into each other and I just didn’t care anymore. I admit, it was a both a sad and liberating feeling.
Now at this point, you are probably thinking, “What a terrible book review. Who cares about your life. Get to Rand.” (If you don’t know who Rand is, then the rest of this will just be really terrible for you. Sorry.) And in some ways, you’re right. This isn’t going to be a good book review. Because, well it isn’t a book review. It’s an update of sorts. I wanted to write about my progress with a series spanning fourteen books (suck it Hunger Games trilogy!) and for me, two years. Things change in two years. People change. Locations change. I started this journey with Rand, Perrin and Mat while they were living in Emond’s Field, and I was living in Brooklyn, NY. Now they are spread all over the lands west of the Spine of the World, and I live in Phoenix.
So why now. Why am I writing this, if I seemingly gave up on the series and forgot about all our ta’veren friends? (Again, if you are unfamiliar with ta’veren then either check out the Wheel of Time encyclopedia page at http://encyclopaedia-wot.org/main/wot.html or just stop reading. Or keep reading, its you’re life.) Because I eventually picked up book eight again. Because I find myself now, one chapter into book twelve, engaged and invested. I realize now that part of the reason I stopped in the first place was because, and this is probably inevitable in such a long series, some of the books seemed to muddle through their plots. They felt like place-holders for larger things to come, and less like worthy stories in and of themselves. While the story did move, and characters evolved, it was slow and monotonous. To put this in a little perspective, books eight through eleven take place over the course of a year. Four books, one year. And one of those books covers just a few weeks. If I hadn’t been genuinely interested in the collective fates of our protagonists (or committed with an OCD-fueled fervor to finish what I started) I may have just quit all together. And trust me, I thought about it.
But I didn’t quit. And now here I am, on the other side of the slow plotting and all the better for it. I sit here now, the audio book for book 12 “The Gathering Storm” waiting patiently for me on my phone, actually excited to see what happens next. The slow pace of the earlier books worked for me because now I have a real feel of what is at stake. There was an urgency to book eleven that has carried over into book twelve. And with Brandon Sanderson (who wrote the Mistborn series which I thoroughly enjoyed) taking over the helm for the last three books, after Robert Jordan’s passing, I am even more excited to see how he puts his own mark on what has, in its entirety thus far, been a fun and you know what? Satisfying experience. Yeah I said it. Even with the kinda boring parts and the hundred names that crop up every chapter so that I have to listen to the audio books with that encyclopedia page open.
Many times in life, we are forced to live through the boring parts. To just make it to the other side of some long endeavor, wishing the journey were more exciting. There are times when quitting and moving on to something else makes so much sense in that moment. It really does. We think we could be spending our time more productively. And I felt this way about school for a long time. Why suffer through Intro classes and full schedules, when I already knew what I wanted to do and just wanted to go ahead and do it? It’s tough sometimes to stay motivated and push yourself past those moments of monotony and tiredness. But we do it. And often we come out the other side so much better for it. I’m not saying reading this series is some grand life achievement that I expect will enrich my existence the way school might. What I am saying though is that there is a lesson in there somewhere. That sometimes if we just keep moving forward with something, complete it and judge it as a whole, we might realize we enjoyed it. And this is how I feel about this series. I want to see it as a whole, and judge it as a complete package.
So, if you know how it all ends, don’t tell me. I’ve been vague in this post so that I wouldn’t spoil anything for you. This two year journey so far with Rand, Perrin, Mat (and Elayne, Nynaeve, Egwene, Min, and Aviendha), has been fun, and I appreciate the experience of having grown alongside those crazy kids. No regrets. No judgment.
I’ll be posting reviews of the next three books as I read them, just as an FYI kind of thing. So look for them on the site. And I’m curious to know what you think about the series if you’ve read it, or are reading it, or are thinking of reading it. It’s an investment, but most things are. I say go for it. Or don’t. It’s your life. 🙂