If you enjoyed reading A Song of Fire and Ice (adapted into Game of Thrones), you should definitely try the Wheel of Time series. It’s a fascinating series (but kind of old), and perfect for fantasy book lovers. I first read them when I was 12 (yes I was way ahead of my age by then) and I was absolutely hooked. The series is long enough to keep you occupied for ages, (which is perfect if you ask me) and goes all the way to book 15. Yes, it sounds like a lot, but so far it’s been worth it.
When I first read the books I only went up to book six because the school library didn’t have the last books in the series, the librarian probably didn’t know how long it was. The story is set in a completely fictional world, but Jordan (the writer) does an incredible job of describing this world in various ways that make it easy to understand it. It’s a sprawling story with a number of key characters and lots of minor ones too. It’s really easy to follow because Jordan writes it as kind of a funnel, where the first books focus on one or two characters then expands as the plot thickens.
What’s it about (no spoilers)?
I don’t want to put in any major spoilers (maybe a few teasers) so I’ll try not to go into too much detail about what happens in the first four books, (there’s a prequel on Moraine which is actually book 12 but I read it first this time around.) And who’s Moraine? A woman, known as Aes Sedai, who can practise a form of magic (called channelling), who goes in search of a boy prophesied to be the Dragon Reborn. Basically, the Dragon Reborn is a boy/man meant to face The Dark One (or Shai’tan) in The Last Battle to save the world (whilst kind of breaking it at the same time). Obviously, this means the Dragon Reborn can also channel (you can’t fight the Lord of the Dark without magic duh).
Here’s the catch… (tiny spoiler) …
Men are forbidden from channelling otherwise they go cuckoo, in other words, they go crazy. Channelling for men, is tainted, and when they do, they eventually lose their minds and bad things start to happen. Who wants magic in the hands of a crazy person? Anyways I’m sure you can already start to see the problem here. How’s he supposed to be saving any world when:
- He shouldn’t be channelling
- He could lose his marbles before this final battle even happens?
Oh, and did I mention that this Dragon Reborn is kind of like a reincarnation of the Dragon (duh) who did save the world (and broke it) thousands of years ago? He’s kind of like, but not quite. It’s difficult to describe without giving key details away, so you’ll have to read it again.
How many characters are in it?
Lots! There are a whole lot of characters and Jordan keeps adding more as the story develops, however, you’ll experience this story mostly through the eyes of about six or seven characters. You’ll still get to view things through the eyes of many other characters, but those seven feature the most in the first four books (I’m not including the prequel here). So does it get confusing? Not really. Not too much. Okay, I’ll admit, there are characters whose parts I barely remember (the really minor seeming ones but I suspect crucial in the near future), but generally, you can keep up with the main plot.
Is there a Daenerys, Jon Snow or Tyrion? Not to me. It’s hard to have a clear favourite because some of the characters are incredibly complex, and sometimes they have conflicting interests. Bottom line, it’s hard to pick sides. All you know is that you don’t want Shai’tan to win. On that note, whilst we encounter The Dark One directly in the book, we never meet the Creator. At all. At least not in the first few books. The Creator is referenced, but we never have any direct or indirect encounters, so there’s no need to worry too much about prejudice.
Is there gratuitous language or explicit sexual content?
Sorry…no. That’s a Game of Thrones TV adaptation thing, so no, there is none of that. They do swear, but not in the same way we do. Their swearing is very contextual to their world so it’s not offensive. And yes, the characters do engage in intimate and sexual activity, but Jordan doesn’t go into explicit descriptions, he just lets you fill it in with your imagination. If it was a TV series, there would be lots of nudity though. In fact, they’d be so many scenes with nudity you wouldn’t watch it with your parents. But nudity is not really explicit unless you’re actually seeing it right?
Is there romance?
Yes! What series (that’s 15 books long) could survive without a bit of romance? There’s enough romance to satisfy without being enough to dominate the saga. Whilst love and romantic interaction is a fairly strong theme, it’s not central to the story, neither is it overwhelming. It’s just the right amount. And there is a fair bit of death and violence to off-set the good stuff.
It’s definitely a series worth picking up and committing to (although sometimes you need a break, you can read non-fiction in-between) and I can’t wait to get to see how the story goes (I’m on book 5 now). There’s are obviously stuff that I wasn’t too crazy about in the books, but the good stuff outweighs the not so great parts. Here’s a list of the names of the books upto book 4, hopefully, you’ll enjoy it as much I’m doing.
PS: Robert Jordan died before he finished the entire series, but he had written enough notes, and taken the story far enough that another writer could have finished the books for him. Which is exactly what happened. They found another writer with a similar style who could carry the story to the end in the last books. I’m not sure if a reader can tell the difference because I haven’t gotten to the books where Brandon takes over yet. I’ll pass the verdict once I do.
The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (Book 1-4)
- Book 1: The Eye of the World
- Book 2: The Great Hunt
- Book 3: The Dragon Reborn
- Book 4: Shadow Rising