Have you ever looked forward to something for so long and with so much anticipation that when it finally happens, you find yourself depressed when it is over?
I’ve always been a fan of fantasy literature. I usually like to look for the lesser known series and authors…therein generally lie the real gems in my opinion. However, there is no denying the genius and authority of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis and the like. And every once in a while another author comes along to join their ranks. I firmly believe that Robert Jordan is destined to be (if he doesn’t already qualify as) one of those.
Roughly fifteen years ago I noticed several of my friends reading these books that were ungodly enormous. Well, they appealed to me on their size alone; I’ve always been drawn to large books mainly because of how smart I look when reading them. That’s why I enjoyed reading “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” in fourth grade when my classmates were reading “Superfudge.”
Anyhow, at the time I read the first two books in the Wheel of Time series, and thought they were good. But I had also recently discovered the amazing series “The Incarnations of Immortality” by Piers Anthony, and those books had me firmly in their grasp.
Skip ahead a few years, and I decided to check out The Wheel of Time again. I started over, and I was hooked. Over the course of one summer I read all the way through the books that were out at the time, which included:
- The Eye of the World
- The Great Hunt
- The Dragon Reborn
- The Shadow Rising
- The Fires of Heaven
- Lord of Chaos
- A Crown of Swords
- Path of Daggers
- Winter’s Heart
Shortly thereafter Robert Jordan released the prequel, A New Spring. Not long after that, I learned that he was ill and it was unlikely that he would live to finish writing the series. In my petty way, I was upset with him for taking time to write the prequel rather than forging on with finishing the series! Hindsight being what it is though, now that I’ve read A New Spring, I’m glad that we have it for the story that it provides (although I really do wish that there was more to it….how I long to read Tam’s story as a member of the Companions of Illian, or read of Tigraine’s story!)
A few years later I acquired audio books of the whole series that was out at the time. That added the books that had been released in that period:
- Crossroads of Twilight
- Knife of Dreams
After getting through those books, I was VERY apprehensive. There were SOOOOOO many loose ends, and there seemed to be no way that everything could be tied up in a single book. You see, for many years Robert Jordan had promised us that there would be 12 books in the series (not counting the prequel.) He said that even if it had to be 1500 pages long, everything would be wrapped up in A Memory of Light.
Then came the tragic news that Robert Jordan (James Oliver Rigney, Jr. — can you believe that after all these years I had to wipe away a tear?) passed away. I never knew the man other than through his characters. But I know his characters….they are dear friends of mine. I have almost grown up with them; as Rand, Mat, and Perrin have left home and become the men that they needed to become so that those they love can be safe, so have I grown and become a man. This series of books, these stories, these people are so much more to me than merely the constructs of a very imaginative man. They are reflections of my life, told in VERY entertaining fashion.
Some time later I learned that Brandon Sanderson was going to take on the burden of finishing A Memory of Light. I’ll admit I was skeptical. I had never before heard of him, I had never read anything of his (actually I still haven’t, other than what he has contributed to WoT, though I intend to.) I didn’t think anybody could live up to Robert Jordan. It was announced that A Memory of Light was going to be split into a trilogy due to its massive size, which did make me feel a bit better about the plot aspect of it.
When I got the audio book (I simply am unable to spend as much time reading these days, parenthood will do that to you….but the drive to work is a wonderful time for audio books) for The Gathering Storm, I was greeted with an introduction from Brandon Sanderson. He explained his experience in being asked to take over, and his own apprehension. What I most appreciated though was how he stated that he had no intention of mimicking Robert Jordan’s writing style; doing so would be an insult due to the fact he simply could not pull it off. Also, there were many portions of the book(s) that RJ had already written, and it became apparent to a reader familiar with RJ which was which….and those became a wonderful little treat.
I will say that both The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight were simply phenomenal books. The story line has positioned every one of my beloved characters right where I want them to be for an amazing epic battle to come in A Memory of Light. For two years I have waited.
Now we come to it. The publication date is about three weeks away…I am antsy, impatient, excited….and apprehensive. What will I do when it’s over? I’ve been listening to the series over again one more time in anticipation. I’m almost done with Crossroads of Twilight right now….which I’ll admit is probably the least exciting and most “talky” of the books in the series. But the next two are full of action. So I’m going to be hyped up and ready for what has to be a lot of action and fulfillment of prophecy.
I have spent the last several years trying to solve mysteries. One of the things I LOVE about this series has been the hints and riddles that Robert Jordan has sprinkled in throughout. Each time a new book comes out, it’s fun to go through and determine if there are any new answers. Like who killed Asmodean? (It was Graendal.) Where is Demandred? What were the darkhounds around Perrin’s camp doing?
As it stands right now, there is the possibility that “in the future we will get these answers because the author knows.” But if the last book in the series comes out, and those answers aren’t in it, then we’ll never know. I’ll be left with nothing but fan theories and supposition…after all, the man who originally wrote this stuff has passed on and cannot tell me the real reasoning.
Ah, I am overthinking all of this. The book is going to be fantastic. There is going to be a great ending….oh man, that gets me worried all over again!
What is a great ending? Is it going to be the classic “happy ending” in which all of my favorite characters triumph over evil and live happily ever after? Not if the tone of this series holds up. There is that prophecy that Rand often repeats which states that “to live he must die.” WTF does that mean? I’m sure there’s going to be some complicated magic stuff pulled off, and I’ve pondered it a lot and have a number of interesting theories, and I surely hope that one of my theories is the right one so I can say “yay, I followed the clues and figured it out!” After all, I think Robert Jordan left clues for the top 1% of the class to be able to figure out, but he didn’t want to spoil the surprise for everyone else.
All I will say here is that I know it’s going to be an “epic” conclusion (albeit the word “epic” is overused these days to the point of having little meaning.) I have faith that Robert Jordan imagined something utterly amazing. Brandon told us as much, and he is first and foremost a fan of The Wheel of Time. And when it’s all over….I can always start at the first and read them all over again!