Wheel of Time
I have been reading the Wheel of Time now for almost two decades and thought I would take this opportunity to recap each book in my prepartion for book 12 which has been recently been released. Similar to many other Fantasy/Sci-Fi series of great scope and complexity the time it takes to prepare for the next book simply adds to the enjoyment (+ it allows you to "get to know" your friends again!) ... also ... more often than not, I have found new things that I missed in my initial read through.
It should be noted here that book 12 is actually only part 1 of 3. Robert Jordan (who recently passed away) left all of his notes to Brandon Sanderson to complete his final book in the series. These notes which were to be one final volume ended up becoming three final books, which will be released yearly to (hopefully) finally complete the saga.
One final note before you continue reading ... this hub and some of the linked ones, contain spoilers! The Wheel of Time books are an intricate, many-layered narrative covering an entire world over the course of several years (and many centuries, in flashbacks). DO NOT read it if you have not yet read the book in question as although it is not a synopsis of each book, it does show how they tie together and also how each of the characters interrelate. As such, there is much information covered in each book; some of it reveals secrets that impact earlier information, and can change the way you view characters and events at the time.
"And the Shadow fell upon the Land, and the World was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was as blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon.
(from Aleth nin Taerin alta Camora,
The Breaking of the World.
Author unknown, the Fourth Age)"
The Wheel of Time is a book series set in a Tolkein type fantasy environment with many similiar character elements to those initially proposed by Tolkein. The Orc equivalents are Trollocs for example and a'Lan Mandragoran plays the part of Aragorn quite well.
These similarities are most notable in the the first book (The Eye of the World) with the introduction of the key characters and to some extent the mission itself. However, the way that Jordan builds out the story is quite different and although he is using similar themes, he is able to build a fully realized universe that has many unique elements to it. For example, although the Forsaken are very similar to the Nazgûl they are also their own completely unique personalities. In addition, his magic system is completely different and quite well reasoned.
As the series advances the depth of each main (& side) character is fully explored and although to some extent it is a pity that Tolkeins books were not of this scope, at the same time Jordan's story could have probably been finished in 5-6 books vs. the 14 books that it will eventually be. It is definitely noticeable that the series as a whole drags from books 5-11 with much repitition or at the most a very small advancement to the story.
New Spring - A prequel to the main story introduced in Eye of the World, A New Spring introduces us to Morraine & a'Lan Madragoran as well as the Prophecy of the Dragon Reborn. We get a brief view of some of the happenings during the Aiel War (which are extensively referenced in some of the other books). We are introduced also to the concept of the Ajah's (including the Black Ajah) and given an insight into the happenings inside the White Tower itself.
"And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died. And men cried out to the Creator, saying, O Light of the Heavens, Light of the World, let the Promised One be born of the mountain, according to the prophecies, as he was in ages past and will be in ages to come. Let the Prince of the Morning sing to the land that green things will grow and the valleys give forth lambs. Let the arm of the Lord of the Dawn shelter us from the Dark, and the great sword of justice defend us. Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.
(from Charal Drianaan te Calamon,
The Cycle of the Dragon.
Author unknown, the Fourth Age)"
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