Reading Through “The Wheel of Time”: An Update After 4 Books

A few months ago, I posted about how I finally started to read the 14-book epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan. Aside from breaks to read the new Hunger Games book and The Relentless Moon, I’ve now finished 4 of the books, and I thought I’d share a few thoughts.

Overall, I’m enjoying the series, and I’m glad I’m reading it. It’s neat to follow characters for so many books and see they grow, change, and evolve. The world is huge, and I like discovering new cultures and how they’re intertwined.

A few specific (non-spoiler) observations and thoughts:

  • I was a little worried while reading the first book that it was just a retread of Lord of the Rings, as the plot is very similar for a while. Fortunately, the book quickly became its own adventure, and I haven’t thought of the LotR comparison since.
  • Even after only 4 books, I’ve found that it’s tough to remember what happened in which book. I guess it doesn’t really matter, but compared to, say, Harry Potter, I kind of wish I could remember a certain book for a specific reason.
  • After buying the first 3 books for my Kindle, I realized just how much of a financial commitment the entire series is, so I started borrowing the books via the Libby app. This is nice, though it means I’m currently waiting for someone else to return book 5, and I’ll probably only have 2 weeks to read it once it’s ready.
  • I’m not entirely sure that I want to read every book. If I had infinite time and resources, yes, I probably would, but that’s not the case–I have other books I want to read, including a horde of major releases in a few months. So my current plan is to read books 5 and 6, read summaries of 7 and 8, then read 9, read a summaries of 10 and 11, and then read 12, 13, and 14. Feel free to let me know if you think I’ve chosen the wrong books to read or skip!

What did you think about the series through the first four books? What were a few of your favorite moments in those books?

7 thoughts on “Reading Through “The Wheel of Time”: An Update After 4 Books”

  1. Quick Libby tip that I do all the time. After you check out a book and download it to your Kindle, put your Kindle in Airplane mode. You can then take as long as you want with the book. You can also use the Return Early option in Libby so the next person can start reading. Win for everyone!

    Reply
  2. I think book seven (Crown of Swords) has enough going on it’s worth actually reading. Book 8 it probably fine in summaries, I think it more sets up events that payoff in 9. And then that’s as far as I made it.

    You might also check the settings in Libby. Maybe it’s something libraries can set, but at mine, check-outs default to two weeks, with the option of one or three.

    Reply
  3. I read the first 5, but with each book, it got harder for me to drive forward. As in one of the comments on the previous post, it felt like more pages were being used to say less.
    I think it is largely Jordan’s…extended…descriptions of scenes that puts me off. I have a solid enough imagination, so long before the SIXTH paragraph detailing the clothing and demeanor of the attending persons, I had already built the scene in my head, checked out from the ongoing monologue about the folds in the clothing and begun skimming.

    I think I remember a full page in one of the books devoted to the fluffiness of the clouds floating over an already dull interaction between the characters.

    I think it was made too painful for me by the fact that the last 50 pages of most of the books were incredible action set pieces with amazing reveals and story progression. All while still adequately describing the backdrop. Those endings demonstrated Jordan was capable of writing a book I wanted to read, but chose to make most of the books filler, so I quit.

    I think I would be more than happy to read each book as a summary just to see how things finally wound up.

    Obviously, it’s just a style I don’t enjoy. In no way does that mean they are bad books, people just need to know what they’re getting in to. And as you said, there are a lot of other books to read (or possibly other tasks to accomplish) and the time spent reading thousands of pages about how the mountains in the distance stabbed into the sky like the last act of a dying, vengeful god…could possibly be used to better effect.

    Reply
    • Yeah, there’s a case to be made for the slower books (5-10) for reading a summary and the last chapter or two where things finally happen.

      Part of the problem is that Jordan has no concern whatsoever about splitting the party – even in the first book, they split into three separate groups at least some of the time. Where I am in my current re-read, a couple of chapters into book 9, there are at least 8 significant ongoing story threads/groups, some of which haven’t had anything happen since book 7. So even without taking his time setting the scene, Jordan has a lot to cover, and the average pace of any given storyline is maybe a quarter of what it would be if the storyline were the main focus (assuming that there would still be some secondary plots), so things can feel very slow when they’re actually just spread out.

      Reply
  4. I guess it was different for me because I read the series as they were written. I had to wait for the next to be released. Since completing the series I have reread the whole series 3 times and listened to it on audible once.

    If you’re into it you’re into it.

    Reply

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