My long distance relationship with the Wheel of Time

30 Day Book Challenge – Day 16

Longest book you’ve read

Although it may be argued that this isn’t actually one book, and to be fair, I haven’t *exactly* finished reading it, I still think Robert Jordan’s the Wheel of Time deserves a mention here.

Jordan began writing the series in 1984, but in a sad twist, as he was working on the final volume, he passed away in 2007 after an almost two year battle with a rare blood disease.  Fortunately for fans, in anticipation of his untimely death Jordan left extensive notes for another author to complete his work should he not be around to finish it himself.  Author Brandon Sanderson was left to complete the final volume, but it was not long before he resolved to split it into three volumes, finding it impossible to fit everything into the one.

I’m still undecided as to how I feel about these books.  The first one took me a while to get into, the second one was good, the third one I sped through in a couple of days and now I’m about half way through the fourth one and haven’t touched it since the beginning of the year, although less by fault of the book than of my own.

So far, I can at the very least acknowledge them as extraordinary works of fantasy fiction, and with (according to Wikipedia) a sub total to date of 13 books, 11,308 pages, 635 chapters and 4,012,859 words (!!), I still cannot get my head around the sheer size of this epic series.

There are a few reasons we’ve had such a rocky affair, the Wheel of Time and I.  I started reading the first book at the beginning of 2010 on high recommendation from my beautiful best friend Mel, who has excellent reading taste.  She raved about them, but when I heard that there were set to be a total of 14 books, I have to admit, I was a little intimidated.  I was just about to start a writing course at uni and my pile of study related books to read was already unnervingly high.  Nonetheless, I read book one.  I found I was reading relatively sluggishly but I was soon enjoying it, and started book two just before I had to stop due to aforementioned mandatory reading.

I am often guilty of reading several books at a time, picking up where I left off when the mood suits me.  Sometimes I’m just in the mood for something familiar, something I’ve read before, something easy, or something epic.  So when I put book two down, I wasn’t too concerned.  Eight months later, uni had finished and I picked it up, only to find that the very things I had enjoyed about the book – the immense detail and plethora of main characters – were the very things that were hindering my desire to continue reading.  Too much time had passed and I found it impossible to pick up where I left off.  There were too many characters and too much information to remember after so long an absence, and it was a genuine effort to try and recall what had happened.

I was reluctant to start again from the beginning, knowing that I had struggled with the first few chapters of book one, and acutely aware that no less than ten more books in the series awaited my attention.  So what to do?

Cheat, of course.

I googled “Wheel of Time plot summary” and found myself a nifty website which gave 1-2 line chapter summaries.  Win.

I was ready to start my Wheel of Time journey once more.  I picked up the pace with book two, and as I said before, I sped through book three very quickly, I was enjoying it so much.

Then a sad thing happened.  Unfortunately, I started reading book four at a time when life decided to throw me some lemons when I really wasn’t in the mood for lemonade.  With my brain 90% occupied with work, money and life woes I found it more than difficult to concentrate on a series that ultimately requires a lot more attention than I had to give.  I put it down when I realised it had taken me several days to read only a couple of pages, and started reading the Secret Garden instead.  Simple, fun, brilliant.  I was in my happy place.

Since then, life has decided to back off with the lemon hurling and I have found that my brain is plenty more available for books requiring a certain degree of concentration.  Unfortunately, I have since procured even more books to read and am not sure where the remaining ten and a half Wheel of Time books will fit into that schedule.  I suspect that with a fourteen book series it is never going to be a convenient time to get into them, but considering the rave reviews, the massive following and the great gratification to be had in being able to say “I’ve read a 14 book series made up of 11,308 pages, 635 chapters and 4,012,859 words,” I think I’m just going to have to suck it up, go the distance and get back into it.

With the help of nifty 1-2 lined chapter summaries of course…

Anyone else completed the WoT endurance test?

~storytelling nomad~

11 comments on “My long distance relationship with the Wheel of Time

  1. Heh, I couldn’t finish the first one, myself. I used to be adamant about finishing books I start, but I’ve learned to relax that. Why force myself to read in misery when I can be reading what I enjoy? Oh, and you’re not the only one who appreciates plot summaries. 0=)

    • Oh Angela, I envy you! I still haven’t been able to overcome my need to finish a book I start…it might be years later but I simply have to do it in the hope that it WILL get better. I torture myself, I know. It really is quite a demanding read though, isn’t it? I think if I hadn’t read them so spasmodically I might have had more success with them. Sometimes I need an easier read, but usually with fantasy I enjoy detail and depth. I guess part of the reason I have to finish them is because I know there’s that possibility that I might love them. I struggled with LOTR when I first read that too, but now it’s one of my favourites.

      Glad I’m not the only one who cheats with the summaries ;)

  2. I have not had the pleasure to begin this series; however, my husband is into Book #5 (or #6, I forget). He downloads a couple at a time to his electronic reader. Between books, when I ask him if they are any good, he shrugs his shoulders, twists up a corner of his mouth and says only, “I have to see what happens next” as he downloads the next two…they must have something going for them.

    • This is absolutely the feeling you get when reading them. It’s like you know that it’s all leading to something amazing, it’s just the getting there that’s the hard part! They certainly have a large enough following for me to seriously consider doing the hard yards and finishing the series. I think your husband has the right idea in downloading the ebooks…they are monsters to carry around!
      Thanks for stopping by Cindy :)

  3. 14 books!! I can picture you reading a book once a year at the rate you’re going…if you’re lucky :P I might have to pick this up for myself because really..who wouldn’t want to be able to say “I’ve read a 14 book series made up of 11,308 pages, 635 chapters and 4,012,859 words” maybe I can beat you to it!! :D ah, thank you summer vacation!

  4. I resisted reading them for the longest time, but just last year when I moved into my current apartment, I decided to battle the beast. It took me just a bit less than four weeks to finish them all off, and while they aren’t all masterpieces of suspense and wonder, they are a rather brilliant series of books.

    What I didn’t get at first was how the story shifts from standard fantasy to dealing more with politics to dealing with religion to then get back to standard fantasy. It’s shifty like that.

    I’ve yet to finish the last 2 books, seeing as one hasn’t been released yet (afaik) and the second to last one is still rediculously expensive (I’m a bookstore-kind of guy, I don’t actully buy books off the internet). But I’ll get to ’em, for sure.

  5. Pingback: How to choose a pseudonym « storytelling nomad

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