Yes, that’s right, I finally finished reading the entire Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson) and it was quite the ride. Earlier in the year I published a post about my love/hate relationship with the series as I was in the throes of I believe book eight. Having finished the series, I have to say up front I am definitely glad I pushed through and took the advice of friends who said the payoff in the final two books is worth the effort.
Jordan was truly a genius and understood things about human nature which are incredibly relevant to modern times. One of the most striking things about what he communicated by showing instead of telling is the healthful nature of the successful integration of “negative” emotions such as fear and anger. To see that beautifully illustrated using broken characters who sometimes did extremely callous, despicable things was a masterwork in motion. He also put his characters in situations where no matter what they did things would be messy, where try as they may, they would be cast as the bad guy by the majority of people. That kind of realism added to the depth of his fantasy tale.
Another striking thing about the series for me was how Jordan performed one of the most epic takedowns of not only modern feminism but also the “red pill male” movement. I could see hints of this in earlier books when characters would talk of how the female and male Aes Sedai would join together and perform works far beyond the capabilities of either, which to me is an allegory of how it’s not one sex above the other, but instead it’s about a true synergy between the two which elevates both to a higher plane. It’s a lesson which is very much needed in the world today, and not by just one group of people.
There’s so much to say that I loved about these books, but what I enjoyed the most was the artful wrapping up of so many character arcs and foreshadowing in the series. So often writers these days are sloppy and don’t do a good job of wrapping everything up, but Jordan with the assistance of Sanderson did. I thought for sure one major element had been forgotten in the final pages of A Memory of Light, but right on the second to last page it was wrapped up beautifully, which was incredibly refreshing.
Now Amazon will adapt the series into a television show. I’m hopeful they nail the tone of the Wheel of Time but I’m skeptical that they’ll actually understand the many deep themes in the books. I could write a long essay on that topic alone, something others have expounded upon quite well. Since I’m well into the writing of another novel, I’ll just leave it at that and say the Wheel of Time series gets my enthusiastic endorsement. Yes, in the middle of the series you’ll think there’s no redemption for many of the characters, but to see the turnaround and understand in the end they’re like real people with flaws is well worth continuing reading.
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