“Being in charge isn’t always about telling people what to do. Sometimes, it’s about knowing when to step out of the way of people who know what they’re doing.”
I have to admit I had never heard of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan before the show premiered on Amazon Prime. It is one of the most epic fantasy series I’ve read in the current times. But surprisingly, I had never seen it listed in any of the book lists, read a single book review, or came across fandoms talking about it.
Having watched the first season of The Wheel of Time series on Amazon Prime, my interest was piqued enough to read the books. When I checked the series, I was in for a shock. The series contains 15 books if you don’t count the short stories and the extra books on world-building and character histories. Even if I stuck to the main books, I was in for a year-long commitment at the very least. I checked with some other readers and was told I wouldn’t be able to leave it halfway and that it would be worth it to get to the end…and it was!
So, at the beginning of this year, I dove right in. I will not review each book separately…ain’t nobody got time for that! Plenty of sites will give you the summaries in better detail. Here are my thoughts on the series as a whole and how I completed it within the year.
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
“Death was terrible. That didn’t stop it from being necessary.”
The series revolves around the adventures of four teenagers from a small town as they shape the world around them in ways not even they could’ve imagined. Rand, Perrin, Matt, and Egwene set out with Aes Sedai Moiraine, much like the Hobbits did with Gandalf.
They start together, but circumstances separate them, and each carves a path for themselves. Various characters are added to the drama as they all head towards Tarmon Gai’don or the Last Battle. You can see the characters learning and growing through their experiences.
Looking at the list of books seemed intimidating at first, but once I got into the story, time just flew by. I read the whole series on Audible because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make time to read all the books. I usually listen to Audible when doing something repetitive, like art or clearing up the kitchen, and just before going to sleep.
(Do read my review on Paper books vs Ebooks vs Audiobooks)
Each audiobook in the WOT series is at least 25 hours or longer. Much later in the series, I realised I could speed up the narration to 1.5x and still comprehend the story easily. This really helped me finish the entire series before year-end.
The series contains a prequel and 14 books. If you’re really into the series, you might want to read some of the short stories or notes written as prequels for some of the books. Brandon Sarandon writes the last three books based on the notes left behind by Robert Jordan upon his death.
Prequel: New Spring
Book 1: The Eye of the World
Book 2: The Great Hunt
Book 3: The Dragon Reborn
Book 4: The Shadow Rising
Book 5: The Fires of Heaven
Book 6: Lord of Chaos
Book 7: A Crown of Swords
Book 8: The Path of Daggers
Book 9: Winter’s Heart
Book 10: Crossroads of Twilight
Book 11: Knife of Dreams
Book 12: The Gathering Storm
Book 13: Towers of Midnight
Book 14: A Memory of Light
My thoughts on reading The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan
“He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.”
My overview of the series is that it was exciting from beginning to end. A lot was happening at any given time, and I felt I wanted to know what happened next. I initially thought just to read a few of the books and stop at a point in the story where most plot lines are resolved. I didn’t reach that point till the end of the series!
Characters and histories are added at a pace you can follow without getting overwhelmed. Even though there are a lot of characters involved, you don’t take long to get into the flow of things. However, I felt like I was losing the plot a few books down the line. I took a small break and did a quick refresher online before delving back in. Some of the battle scenes are long drawn and can get tiresome, mainly because there are so many of them throughout the series.
There is some humour in dialogue or just the descriptions and habits of some of the characters. In such a vast canvas, romance is inevitable, and some of the descriptions might not be suitable for younger readers.
I loved how the characters are portrayed. Women are not damsels in distress but on the front lines of power and battles. They are queens, warriors, and politicians and are present in every aspect of the world. They are a force for good and evil and every shade of grey in between.
“Only a fool believed women less dangerous than men, but women often seemed to think men fools when it came to women.”
In terms of diversity, the description mentions various skin colours and cultures, from tribal people to seafaring peoples and contemporary town folks. The series has many different cultures with their own histories and cultures. These are detailed beautifully as well. Some characters are portrayed as polygamous, homosexual, or celibate, apart from the hetero-normative ones.
More info on the wheel of time books
“A man who thinks all day about the catch he missed because of stormy weather ends up wasting time when the sky is clear.”
If you’re not yet convinced that you should read the books, check out Wikipedia for a quick overview. However, if you want to take a deep dive, then fandom sites like Dragonmount and WOT Fandom are great.
Because of the sheer scale of the books with so many characters and events, it got a little muddled in my head once in a while. These sites were very helpful in keeping track of the characters and terms used throughout the book.
Books vs TV Series
“Not all options will be good ones. Sometimes you have to make the best of a bad lot and ride the storm.”
The Amazon Prime series based on the books is nothing like the books. Everything else is altered significantly apart from the world and characters. Relationships have been enhanced in line with the American obsession with romantic angles, which, I think, diminishes the characters’ individuality. I don’t know how they plan to take the story further and keep the characters’ essence.
Since I had not read the books when I watched the show, I found the series exciting. However, I am not sure how I’ll feel about Season 2, knowing how much creative licence they have taken with the storyline. Maybe I’d watch it as an unrelated, completely different story.
“The more power a man held, the more likely he was to be an idiot with it.”
Verdict: Must Read
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