The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Years ago I read the Wheel of Time series up through book 10. Now it's late 2008, Robert Jordan has passed on, and we're expecting the last Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light in about one year. Brandon Sanderson will be writing it with the help of notes and taped messages left by Jordan, and in consultation with Harriet, Jordan's widow and confidante.
When I read it the first time, I really enjoyed WOT until it bogged down in the middle of the series. In fact, I stopped reading it after Crossroads of Twilight. But the story was interesting and exciting (though excruciatingly slow at times) and now I'm quite curious to see how Brandon Sanderson will bring it to an ... Read More
Robert Jordan passed away on September 16, 2007. You can read family and fan reaction, and leave a note, at his fan website. Brandon Sanderson will complete the last trilogy (A Memory of Light) of The Wheel of Time. Read announcement.
The Wheel of Time — (1990-2013) Publisher: The peaceful villagers of Emond’s Field pay little heed to rumors of war in the western lands until a savage attack by troll-like minions of the Dark One forces three young men to confront a destiny which has its origins in the time known as The Breaking of the World. This richly detailed fantasy presents a fully realized, complex adventure which will appeal to fans of classic quests.
Available for download at Audible.com.
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
The Great Hunt
Here's another really fun installment of The Wheel of Time. Like The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt kept me thoroughly entertained. Everything I said in the review above goes for this book, too. It's fast-paced and full of plot. I think this is the best book in the series.
We get to meet some excellent secondary heroes and villains in The Great Hunt — Egeanin and the Seanchan from across the sea who use captured and chained women with power to fight for them, and ship captain Bayle Doman, for example.
Also, in The Great Hunt, we start to get an inkling of just how well Robert Jordan has built his world and planned this series. There are aspects of the poetry, mythology, history, and stories of this world that w... Read More
The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan (on audio)
In The Dragon Reborn, Rand finally starts to discover his new talents. Unfortunately, we don't get to watch that happen. We only see a few glimpses of him learning to use his power. It makes me wonder if it was just easier for Jordan to show us the newly developed Rand rather than to explain how he got that way.
A couple of times here (and in later books) we're told that Rand doesn't really know how he wields the power — he just does. In fact, this also happens with the girls from his village (Egwene and Nynaeve) who are learning to be Aes Sedai, and with their friend, princess Elayne. They supposedly are the most powerful women in years, but they don't really understand how they do it or how and why they are more powerful. If you appreciate a well-developed, creative, and well-explained magic system (e.g. Read More
The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
In The Shadow Rising, things start to slow down. In fact, it often feel like the reading of the story must take longer than it took for the events to actually occur.
Part of the problem is that Mr Jordan tells us nearly everything except when the characters make a bowel movement. Also, he regularly launches into pre-set spiels in which he re-describes something or someone who we've encountered numerous times before or re-explains something we've been told dozens of times (e.g., Loial sounds like a bumblebee, Perrin likes to think things through, wet bowstrings are bad, trollocs eat anything as long as it's meat, Aes Sedai never lie but... ). Every time a Tinker shows up, you may as well skip the next two paragraphs because they invariably describe first the "eye-jarring" wagons and then the even gaudier clothes. The format is nearly the same each time. This i... Read More
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
If weren't for Perrin's battle in the The Shadow Rising, I may have given up on this series. While The Fires of Heaven isn't the page-turner that the first three Wheel of Time books were, it does manage to pull me back into this long epic. My favorite character, Perrin, is barely mentioned in this book and I find the conniving, bossing and moodiness of the women characters terribly irritating (they also scare me because I fear that those traits could be all too real). It's the supporting characters, Thom Merrilen, Juilin, Lan, and others that make this story enjoyable.
The Wheel of Time is definitely a worthwhile read for fantasy fans and I do plan to read the next one. It's just too darn long, so it won't make it to the top of my must-read-list... Read More
The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan (on audio)
For being such a long book (nearly 1000 pages in my trade paperback copy), amazingly little happens in The Fires of Heaven, and this is why so many readers have abandoned this otherwise interesting story. Approximately the first third of the novel contains so much recap and repetition that, if I'd had "my hair in a proper braid," I would have been yanking it as often as Nynaeve does.
The formula for the first 100 pages or so goes something like this: One or two lines of dialogue, two paragraphs of backstory, another line of dialogue, another couple of paragraphs of backstory... It felt like the proverbial "one step forward, two steps back!"
I managed to stick with it, though, only because I was listening to it on audiobook (and therefore only half listening while I accomplished something else at the same time) and because I wante... Read More
Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan (on audio)
I could almost copy and paste my review for Fires of Heaven right here and it would be mostly suitable because Lord of Chaos is more of the same. This is another metropolitan-city-phonebook-sized novel with a potentially interesting story that is bogged down by its excruciatingly slow pace, regular insertions of backstory, constant descriptions of the garb of every major and minor character (garb which keeps getting smoothed, straightened, or otherwise adjusted), and too many mentions of expanses of bosoms, spankings, sitting on knees, sniffing, snorting, and braid yanking. (I swear, if I have to read "good stout Two-Rivers woolens" one more time...)
In Lord of Chaos some of the most interesting WOT characters are absent (e.g., Egeanin and ... Read More
A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
My reviews of The Wheel of Time novels are getting just as repetitive as the actual books. There's really not much more to say. A Crown of Swords is another long slow installment in which there are too many detailed descriptions of clothing, references to spanking, concerns about bosoms, and people blushing. There are pages and pages which chronicle secondary characters' extensive internal thoughts. But what bugs me most, though, are the constant depictions of people and places as if they have a corporate personality:
Men strutted arrogantly along the streets with often ragged vests and no shirts, wearing great brass hoops in their ears and brass finger rings set with colored glass, one knife or sometimes two stuck behind their belts. Hands hovering near knives, they stared as though daring someone to give the wrong twist to a l... Read More
The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan
The best thing I can say about The Path of Daggers is that it is significantly shorter than the last few novels have been — only 700 pages (mass market paperback) compared to the 900-1100 page novels that have preceded it. There is much less of the repetitive backstory. I guess Mr. Jordan finally realized that new readers aren't jumping in at this point.
However, that's not to say that there are 700 pages of plot here, either. For again, most of the pages are devoted to minutia such as nearly every word spoken during one of Elayne's 3 hour long rides, every thought that Perrin has while walking around his camp, etc. Most of the significant action is squeezed into the last couple of chapters. The story is still interesting, but The Path of Daggers doesn't advance it far enough.
But what's annoying me mos... Read More
Winter's Heart by Robert Jordan
The first six chapters of Winter's Heart follow Perrin and Faile after Faile is abducted by the Shaido Aiel. The next several chapters follow Elayne as she returns to Caemlyn and prepares to make a bid for her mother's crown. These two storylines are incredibly dull and I confess that I skimmed over a lot of it and read the excellent cross-referenced chapter summaries at Encyclopaedia WOT. I read Winter's Heart years ago and I just did not feel like once again sitting in on Elayne's steward's descriptions of the rats in the Caemlyn sewers or Perrin's angst about Faile (good riddance, I say!).
Mat's story, as usual, was entertaining, and we finally get to meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons (who turns out to be not nearly as exotic as her name suggests). Rand's storyline was side-tracked by his quest to hunt down the rogue Asha'man, so he doesn't really accomplish anything new (other than to acquire ... Read More
Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
Crossroads of Twilight was maddening. I read it years ago and ended up giving up on The Wheel of Time after this book. I tried again in my preparation for reading Memory of Light, and I just couldn't manage to do it again. So, as with Winter's Heart, I cheated by reading many of the chapter summaries at Encyclopaedia WOT. I skimmed the chapters involving Perrin's hunt for Faile because I remembered how slow, grueling, and painful they were when I read them the first time. And even though about 25% of the novel was about this storyline, it did not advance at all. I also skimmed a lot of Elayne's campaigning and dealing with the constantly whining Sea Folk because not much happ... Read More
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
Knife of Dreams has several things going for it. It isn't as bad as the last few for one, no slight achievement. It is relatively crisp in prose and pace. It advances story and character at a more enjoyable pace. It even has a few (though too few) strong scenes that evoke fond memories of earlier (much earlier) books in the series. It is without a doubt an improvement on the past few and anyone who has put the time into this series and felt like they were scraping along will breathe a sigh of relief.
That said, though, there isn't much to praise beyond its improvement over the last few books and its more clear movement toward resolution. Knife of Dreams is a serviceable book. It does what it needs to do (finally) but does so without any real panache or aplomb, without any sense of passion or wonder. It's readable, but not c... Read More
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
Knife of Dreams is another huge installment (1.3 days worth of audio!) which suffers the same faults as the last several WOT novels. But, if you've made it this far, perhaps that won't bug you.
I have to say that Robert Jordan can surely set a scene; indeed, each chapter begins with a very detailed description of the setting, including such minutia as the style and oiliness of men's beards, the height of ladies' boots, every knickknack on every plinth, every bit of jewelry worn by each character, how much bosom is exposed, how tight the pants are, etc. The reader certainly feels immersed in the setting, but for those who have other books they hope to read this year, this may be aggravating.
By this point in the series, I can no longer keep track of the characters. In the chapters about Elayne, we find Pelivar, high seat of House Coelan, ... Read More
The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Since Bill has extensively reviewed The Gathering Storm (above) I'll just add a few of my impressions and address the audio version.
First of all, I'm happy to report that THE WHEEL OF TIME is slowly getting somewhere. Though The Gathering Storm is excessively and needlessly lengthy (why do I, after all this time, still need the clothing styles of each country detailed?), a few things actually happen. And a few important things! Some storylines are mercifully wrapped up and it finally appears that the "storm" is truly "gathering" and that perhaps we might actually see some rain or lightning in the next volume.
Also importantly, the transition from Robert Jordan to Brandon Sanderson has been seamless. I have no idea how much of The Gathering St... Read More
The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
That the twelfth book in a series is entitled The “Gathering” Storm probably points to a fundamental problem with the series. I mean, we’re eleven books (long, long books by the way) down and the storm is only just “gathering”? And anyone who has stuck with The Wheel of Time thus far (which I’m assuming is pretty much everyone reading this because otherwise why the heck are you reading this?), knows that pacing has been a big problem in Robert Jordan’s work, especially after the first few books. I wonder, in fact, if part of the reason for the title was a special publisher’s plea to wavering fans: “the end is coming! No, really! It’s almost here!” Though in that case, perhaps announcing that the final book was going to be split into three wasn’t such a smart idea…
Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
One of the problems with reviewing books like Towers of Midnight is that as you’re taking your notes and then as you’re writing the review itself, you know that really, none of it matters. Because let’s face it, nobody’s reading a review of the thirteenth book in a series — the penultimate one no less — to see if they should read the book. So we’ll dispense with the recommending part of the review and just give some spoiler-free impressions of this almost-the-end book by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson.
I’ll begin by confessing that over the years I’ve become somewhat ambivalent toward the The Wheel of Time, feeling that while some of the books (especially early ones) were absolutely fantastic, the series overall has had wide variations in quality of characterization a... Read More
Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
In The Wheel of Time series, there are two kinds of conflicts: those that are contained within the scope of the novel and those that are contained within the scope of the series. When Rand defeats Sammael in A Crown of Thorns, it is the climax of a novel. When Rand cleanses saidin in Winter’s Heart, it’s a climax within the series. Somewhere along the way, Robert Jordan began to focus on one of these arcs at the expense of the other.
When Brandon Sanderson took over the series after Jordan’s passing in 2007, many noticed that the voice of the novel — particularly with Mat — had subtly changed. However, what Sanderson achieved was a tightly plotted entry that contained a clear-cut exposition, conflict, and resolution. And while I wouldn’t recommend starting the series with The Gathering Storm, it is a surprisingly contained story in a series that long ago seeme... Read More
A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Every now and then, I find myself writing a review that I know just really doesn’t matter. Usually, you like to think of your reviews as acting as a guide to potential readers as to whether or not they should give any particular book a shot. Somebody out there somewhere saw this book and is wondering, “Hmm, I’m not so sure about this one, should I try it?” or somebody out there never heard of this book and is thinking, “hmm, that sounds intriguing; off to my local independently owned small bookshop right around the corner!” (leave me my dream). But let’s face it, when you’re reviewing, as I am with A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan via Brandon Sanderson, the fourteenth and final book of a series (in th... Read More
New Spring by Robert Jordan
With New Spring, Robert Jordan offers himself up to two major criticisms up front. One is for releasing a prequel when you haven't finished the first series yet and the other is for trying to grab a quick book by just padding out an already published first story. With regard to the first, I think it's pretty silly to complain about an author's choice of subject — perhaps he became inspired with something in terms of the back story and is excited to write it, perhaps he needs to flesh out the backstory before continuing with the original series, maybe he just has writer's block and is using this as a tool to work through it. Whatever his reasons, fans have no claim as to what an author writes, frustrating as that choice may be.
As for the second criticism, I haven't read the original short, so I can't speak as to how much this is "padded" and how m... Read More
New Spring by Robert Jordan
New Spring is a prologue to Robert Jordan's bestselling fantasy epic, The Wheel of Time, which, sadly, the author did not live to complete. (I won't comment at this time on the length of the series or the decision to release a prologue while many readers were hoping for a conclusion.) Brandon Sanderson, the author of Mistborn, has been tapped to expand Mr. Jordan's notes into the twelfth and final WOT novel, A Memory of Light, tentatively scheduled for release in 2009.
For those who are coming to the saga fresh: Stop. I strongly recommend reading at least the (very good) first book, The Eye of the World Read More
The Conan Chronicles — (1985-1998) These are contributions to Robert E. Howard‘s Conan series. Publisher: Before Robert Jordan conquered national bestseller lists with his phenomenally popular Wheel of Time saga, he revived the legendary fantasy hero, Conan the Cimmerian. These widely acclaimed adventures introduced the world-famous barbarian to a whole new generation of enthusiastic readers. Volume 1: Three of Robert Jordan’s best Conan novels have been collected in this omnibus volume, rich with the splendor and adventure of bygone ages. In Conan the Invincible, the young Conan and Karela, a sexy outlaw, outwit the necromancer Amanar and confront the Eater of Souls. In Conan the Defender, the mighty warrior challenges the magic-spawned Simulacrum of Albanus. And in Conan the Unconquered, Conan saves a beautiful young woman from the sorcerous Cult of Doom. Volume 2: 1983’s Conan the Triumphant and 1984’s Conan the Magnificent and Conan the Victorious.