The Wheel of Time – An Update From Dan

images

 

(edited)

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. 🙂

 

Advertisements

Sun and Water

IMG_20140504_103037

Opened in 2001, Steele Indian School Park in downtown Phoenix is one of our favorite places to go with our son on weekends. He loves the large playground and the two dog parks, and the water. He loves the water. Including the sparkling , sun-kissed fountains.

Happy (late) Halloween!

In the spirit of Halloween, that hallowed day that seemed to pass us by unawares this year. Well, we were aware but the baby wasn’t. Since we missed our pumpkin carving party this year, here are some pictures from last year. 🙂

Breakfast

There are certain photos that have the ability to take you right back to a special place in your mind. It doesn’t have to be flashy, or deep, or stunning. It can be of everyday objects that just seem to bring you back to a time, a place, a feeling. This picture, from San Pedro, Guatemala, always brings me back to that morning were we found a small, hidden café seemingly randomly placed amongst man-sized leaves, and colorful flowers. The picture is just of some lemonade, and coffee and fruit but it means so much more. One more reason why photographs can connect so deeply, and why I love them.

Stego

We have two cats; sweet yet shy Sally, and bull-in-a-China-shop Stego. Short for Stegosaurus. I know, self fulfilling prophecy – he is a terror. But a good terror. A bottle-cap fetching, fly hunting, sink tap water drinking, needs to be in everything, ball of long orange fur. So when I took this picture, and the shadows and colors made him look calm and normal, I thought I couldn’t miss this chance. He’ll always be our favorite trouble maker, the big brother to the baby to come, and an annoying youngen for Sally.

I See You

He thought he was hiding from the crowd, but I was able to sneak just below him, get a good zoom, and catch this shot (one of my absolute favorites) of this bird quietly hiding at his next. This continues to be one of my faves. We took this at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden last summer.

All for me!

I love flowers. I love taking pictures of them. But what I really love is taking pictures of insects ON flowers. This was in the Brooklyn Botanical garden, and this little guy seemed not to know where to start! I feel that way sometimes; a little fly, on a big flower. Trying to figure it all out. Perhaps even ignorant of the beauty just underneath me, too focused on whats right in front of me.

Coconuts and Phone Calls

My cell phone didn’t work. We’d just gotten off the small dirt-bike that a stranger graciously let us hang off the back of as he raced towards our isolated beach and fresh-from-the-tree coconuts. But my cell phone didn’t work. And we needed to check in with the family who’d only hours earlier sent us on this crazy journey. Long story short, a machete wielding man leads me up a steep and tree filled hill, to a special crooked tree where overlooking a steep drop down, when placing a hand on one of the furthest reaching branches, one would get reception enough to make calls. I hadn’t had the heart to tell him, on the 15 minute hike up a hill, that my phone had actually died half way up. He was doing me a real solid here. So, we reached the top, laughed about it. He used the machete to cut down some fresh coconuts, and I used his phone to tell my uncle we were alive. And in the meantime, I got this wonderful picture that I fell in love with.

Golden’s State Flower

My partner, Golden, is from Colorado. Gilpin County or Nederland, depending on when you ask her. But, that’s why we go there so often and I absolutely love it. I love the big things like the mountains, and the grand landscapes (much like Chris Kaan’s sick picture. Link below), and the small things like random wildlife and wonderful wildflowers. Like, this – the Rocky Mountain Columbine, state flower of Colorado. We saw some growing during a hike in Estes Park and we couldn’t pass without taking some pictures. Rather, Golden wouldn’t pass until we got the perfect shot of a little piece of home.

(Chris Kaan)