Fifteen years ago, nearly to the day, was the last time I read a Wheel of Time book. The occasion was the publication of The Path of Daggers, the eighth book in the series, which I borrowed from a friend and read over winter break. I remember feeling frustrated at the slow pace of the series and vowing I would not read another word from Robert Jordan until the end was in sight.
Well, the last Wheel of Time book comes out today. It has the best title of the series — A Memory of Light — and it is written not by Jordan, who passed away several years ago, but by Brandon Sanderson, a more-than-capable fantasy author whose Mistborn trilogy was one of the best original works of fantasy of the last decade. When Sanderson announced on his blog that A Memory of Light would be released in January 2013, I remembered my vow and immediately penciled in a date to start rereading the series anew.
I’m not quite up to date — in a fitting coincidence, I’ll probably finish The Path of Daggers this week — but I have been enjoying myself far more than I thought I would. Fifteen years is long enough that I have only dim memories of the high points of the series, leaving plenty of room for suspense and surprises. At the same time, I’ve grown up enough as a human being and a reader that the series’ faults have become ever more glaring.
There are plenty of very interesting retrospectives on The Wheel of Time out there. But I might as well provide my own in this vanity space. I’m planning to begin with a post on the overarching weaknesses of the series, at least as far as I’ve gotten. And I’d like then to do a post on each book with a few scattered thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of that volume. Let’s see how far this goes.