I finished the third book, The Dragon Reborn, in the Wheel of Time series on Sunday. It took a while for me to finish it, partly because it was almost 700 pages long. Partly because the story didn’t really grab me until more than halfway through. You may wonder why I continued to read a book that didn’t grab me? It’s a bit involved.
First off you should know The Dragon Reborn is the third book in a fourteen book series by Robert Jordan. This epic tells the story of the “third” age of the world, an age that will soon end and an age that will come again thousands of years later. You see, in Jordan’s world, a seven-spoked wheel represents time and its ages. The ages come and go and the pattern of the age weaves its story similarly from age to age but always with some variation.
And through these ages there always seems to be the never-ending battle between good and evil, light and dark.
Way more ambitious in ways than Tolkien’s Lord of the Ring and perhaps a bit more … innocent … than A Song of Ice and Fire, this was a story I started decades ago with the first book, The Eye of the World, followed by The Great Hunt. Then the “unthinkable” happened. A van ran into Stephen King.
If you know me, you know I was also in the midst of the Dark Tower series at that time and faced the possibility that I would invest in a series that would never be finished. That’s when I to no longer read incomplete series. I need closure.
Jordan was prolific though (and apparently way more diligent than George R. R. Martin) and churned out these books yearly or bi-annually at mammoth proportions (the fourth book in the series, The Shadow Rising, is over 1000 pages). So it looked good for a finish somewhere in the mid 2000s.
Then the actual unthinkable happened. Robert Jordan passed away in 2007 while working on what should have been the twelfth and and last book.
It was a long illness and came with warning so as not to leave his life’s opus unfinished he left copious notes. Now at this point, I’ve heard conflicting stories, one saying he chose the author, Brandon. Sanderson, to finish his books and went over the notes with Sanderson before his death. The other, his widow chose Sanderson afterwards and worked with him to produce what ended up being the last three books in the series to finish it. Either way they published the last book in the series in 2013.
So I reread The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt – and continued with The Dragon Reborn. As I said though, it didn’t grab me. I stuck with this last one because I feel I somehow owe it to Mr Jordan who put so much into these stories and because Chris has read them all (he’s actually on his second or third re-read and he never does that!). Chris also swears it’s one of the best endings to a series ever. So I continue.
All that said I found this book pretty much followed a similar format as the first two. Our band of heroes goes on their separate paths of discovery that ultimately brings them back together at the end of the story, where the main protagonist yet again battles one of the forces of evil to again prove he is who everyone suspects him of being (aka The Dragon Reborn). That it followed the same formula as the first two is I think what turned me off.
Chris swears this won’t always be the case, so I’m going to give the fourth book a go. First though I think I’ll read some easy mysteries.