Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Wheel of Time

All right, can I just give a big shout out to Robert Jordan and his stunning, epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time?  The cover art for the forthcoming final installment, A Memory of Light, co-written by Brandon Sanderson, was just released.  It's all over Facebook and twitter.  I am SO excited for this!  Despite the fact that it won't be released until January of next year, I can't help but wax nostalgic.  Mr. Jordan and his epic saga are a big part of the reason I am where I am today.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school, I happened to be in the (now defunct) store Media Play.  I went in several times over several weeks for various reasons, and I kept noticing a ginormous display of books.  The picture on the front showed a young man on a horse at the head of a huge army.  He had a crown on his head, banners at his back, and a sword pointed out in front of him toward something the picture didn't show.  The book was entitled The Path of Daggers.  I thought it looked like the coolest story EVER!  When I picked it up to look closer, I noticed a small caption in the corner that read "Book 8 of The Wheel of Time."

Book 8?! I thought.  What the...

I went to the scifi/fantasy section and found book 1.  I figured it couldn't hurt to try it out.  And the rest, as they say, is history.  I read the first two books in under two weeks.  Then school started and I was pissed that I could no longer sit around reading all day every day.  By the time I'd read the first seven books, the eighth had come out in paperback, which, being a poor 17-year-old, made me very happy.  But after that I was "caught up" and had to wait 1-2 years in between each installment.  Dah!  What misery!

And then came the day when I heard the tragic news that the beloved Robert Jordan had lost his battle with terminal illness.  I remember feeling sick.  Brandon Sanderson stepped in to finish the series, lucky for us.  No matter what you think of Sanderson's writing style or how well he's done, it was a monumental undertaking and I think he's done quite well, all things considered.  His style isn't Jordan's but for me, it's more important to finally finish something I started more than a decade ago than to nitpick about how different the narrative details are.

This post is getting long, but in a nut shell I must say that Robert Jordan may have done more to influence me as a writer than any other single person or force.  I couldn't stop reading this series and I always wanted to write something that someone, somewhere would love even half that much.

His characters were well rounded and oh so human.  You couldn't help but route for them.  (In the case of the Forsaken and Darkfriends you were routing for their opportunity to be kissed by balefire, but still.)  He loved his irony, his tragedy, and his embroidery descriptions.  (Don't get me started).

So here's to the final installment of an unmatched fantasy world.  May it live up to his elevated but unassuming standards.  I, for one, am in love with his writing, his characters, and this story.  His plots were epic; his humor, sidesplitting; his characters, relatable; his justice, poetic; his tragedy, astonishing; his legacy; unequaled.

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