The Wheel of Time – Series Review Conclusion

DRAGON

Original cover art for The Dragon Reborn. Features Rand, Mat, Perrin, Callandor (the sword), a couple of Aiel, some defenders of The Stone of Tear in the background, and the disembodied face of Ba’alzamon in the center.

Well, here we are. I’ve reviewed all of the books in The Wheel of Time series individually in the previous for posts. I’d like to conclude with a review of the series as a whole to wrap things up. Also, I’ve included a tl;dr below for any who don’t want to read five long blog posts about the series.

The series starts off well, though it has pacing issues from the get-go that will continue throughout. The world is wonderfully complex and full of vibrant characters and locales. In fact, if anything it is too big as keeping track of all the characters, locations, terminologies, and factions can be quite daunting. Thankfully, each book includes useful glossaries at the back that readers will use extensively, especially during the first few books. The series realizes its potential with book four, The Shadow Rising, which is a superb work of fantasy and makes reading the series to that point more than worthwhile. Unfortunately, the series begins to stumble with book six, Lord of Chaos, and subsequent books in the series will vary in quality. This is because Jordan perhaps became a little too ambitious which forced him to see many side plots through to conclusion. Due to this, the series becomes a bit of a bloated mess even if several of the books are still exciting. The series hits its low point with book ten, Crossroads of Twilight. Almost nothing important plot or character wise happens in this book, and the only exciting development happens in the last couple of pages. Seriously. Luckily the series gains momentum again with book eleven, Knife of Dreams, and may have maintained that momentum had Jordan not passed away. Brandon Sanderson took the helm of the series starting with book twelve, The Gathering Storm, and, for this book at least, he was not completely ready as the plot and characters again stagnate. Fortunately, Sanderson proved himself with the last two books, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light, which are considerably better than his first attempt. The series ends with a huge battle on multiple fronts and the conclusion is both excellent and unexpected.

For anyone with interest in epic, high fantasy reads, I do recommend reading The Wheel of Time. It is not a perfect series by any means, and there will be times you may be tempted to call it quits. However, the series does reward readers who stick with it through the lean times (figuratively using this word as the books themselves are thick). Also, unlike some of the other popular epic high fantasy series out there, this one is finished. So if you haven’t read them yet, and you like what you find, you can tackle the whole series start to finish without having to wait for the next book in the series to come out.

That wraps up my series review. It’s been quite the journey with Rand and friends the past few years. I may not read the series again since it is such a commitment, but I’m glad I took the time to read it when I had the chance. Definitely give it a shot if you’re interested.

japanese_covers_of_popular_western_books_640_05

Cover art for the Japanese edition of The Gathering Storm. Features Rand, Perrin, Mat and, I assume, Egwene.

Since these posts have been very long, I decided it would be worthwhile to do a tl;dr section for those who just want the nitty gritty. Here it is:

Book One, The Eye of the World – Has some pacing issues throughout, and can be disorienting for new readers who will need to make use of the glossary at the back of the book frequently. Otherwise, it is a good start with well-rounded characters and a wonderful climax and ending.

Book Two, The Great Hunt –  Starts off with a bang, but has some pacing issues afterward. Seems a bit more focused on world-building and starting new plot threads than the characters (not a bad thing). Comes to another action-packed ending.

Book Three, The Dragon Reborn – Develops the supporting cast, including the female characters. Unfortunately, the pacing is pretty awful, and Jordan may have written himself into a corner with all the prophecies he teased in the previous books which forced him to fulfill all of them.

Book Four, The Shadow Rising –  Takes a while to get started, but once it does it goes nonstop. Lots of action and revelations about the characters and the fictional world. Arguably the best book in the series.

Book Five, The Fires of Heaven – No pacing issues! Many revelations and lots of action again. Jordan proves himself to be very adept at writing large scale battles.

Book Six, Lord of Chaos – Character and plot development stagnates for most of the book. Redeemed by an excellent, climactic battle that seriously gave me goosebumps at several points.

Book Seven, A Crown of Swords – Not as action-packed as some of the previous books, but there is some excellent character development on almost all fronts. Nynaeve in particular shines in this book.

Book Eight, The Path of Daggers – All the excitement happens at the beginning of this book. After that the rest of the book is a long protracted battle that’s sole purpose is for a minor plot development.

Book Nine, Winter’s Heart – Some very crucial and exciting plot developments happen in this book. Unfortunately, character development is kind of stagnant. Lots of action in yet another explosive climax.

Book Ten, Crossroads of Twilight – Nothing happens in this book. Seriously. The only important plot development happens in the last two or three pages. The worst book in the series.

Prequel, New Spring – Not a great, or necessary addition to the series, but it does tell the story of how two very important characters meet prior to the main series. Blissfully short in comparison to the rest of the books.

Book Eleven, Knife of Dreams – The first half of the book is slow, but the latter half is completely explosive. Many plot threads that have been ongoing for multiple books finally conclude.

Book Twelve, The Gathering Storm –  The first Brandon Sanderson book. A few plot developments, but mostly nothing happens. The conclusion may not be very believable to readers. Sanderson didn’t seem to have a grasp of the characters yet.

Book Thirteen, Towers of Midnight – Written by Brandon Sanderson. Even more plot threads that have been ongoing for multiple books conclude here, mainly involving Mat and Perrin. Lots of great character development and page-turning action. Sanderson had a much better grasp of the characters this time around.

Book Fourteen, A Memory of Light –  Written by Brandon Sanderson. Again, takes a while to get started, but once it starts it doesn’t let up. The whole book is essentially one large battle taking place on various fronts. Comes to an excellent, unexpected conclusion in many ways.

Series as a Whole – A great series that is unfortunately bogged down in the middle by too many plot threads happening at once. Fortunately, the series strong points out weigh the bad making this series worth reading for fans of epic fantasy.

SWORDS

Original cover art for A Crown of Swords. Features Rand al’Thor in Shadar Logoth, with a Trolloc behind and to his left and some soldiers in the background.

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