Friday, November 27, 2015

Turnings of the Wheel

The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legends fade to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the first age by some, an Age yet to come, an age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Appalachia. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

Born below the cloud-capped peaks, the wind blew north, deep into the foothills. Down it flailed toward the Three Rivers, into the sprawling towns called the South Hills, and beat at two boys standing in the grass between their homes. Gusts tore at a tattered book, bound by rubber bands, that was being exchanged.

It will come as no surprise to the cognoscenti that the book being exchanged was The Eye of the World - book one in Robert Jordan's sprawling The Wheel of Time series. My friend and neighbor was the owner of the book, and he was insisting that I needed to read it.

I'd heard of The Wheel of Time, of course. I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club (it still exists!), and I'd seen the books featured from time to time. I'd been intrigued, but never remembered to look into the series when I was actually at a bookstore (this was long before Google).

I took that tattered paperback home, removed the rubber bands, and started to read. Within a day or two, I'd bought my own copy. I soon bought copies of the second and third books and before much longer, I owned and had read the first six paperbacks.

Earlier, I referred to The Wheel of Time as sprawling, and I meant it. The story spanned an entire world, and featured an ever-expanding cast of characters. It was sufficiently complex that I needed to go back and re-read the previous books every time another one came out. With each new book, this re-read became more unwieldy, and I eventually decided that it was time to let Mr. Jordan finish the series, then go back and read the whole thing in one long run.

Soon after I made that decision, Mr. Jordan became gravely ill. He soon passed away, but not before naming Brandon Sanderson to complete his epic tale. The series is now complete at 15 books, with a total of 11,916 pages (10,173 in hardcover), and the final book has been out long enough that I should have no trouble borrowing a copy from the library. The time has come.

I've borrowed the first 12 audiobooks (the ones I've previously read) from a friend, and plan to begin laying siege to the complete tale in early 2016. Will they still hold up after all these years? Will the series' end be satisfying enough to justify the wait? I'll soon find out, and I hope to report back here as I complete each book.

No comments:

Post a Comment