Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Wheel of Time Series - Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan is the only fantasy writer I’ve ever read, except Tolkien and CS Lewis. Somehow I’m always drawn back to this story, and this time I’m determined to make it through the entire series by reading one book a month. I’m currently on a re-read of Book 4, Shadow Rising.

The series features the shepherd Rand al’Thor, who discovers he can channel, meaning that he has magical powers. Unfortunately, gosh darn, these powers are tainted for all men, and he will eventually go mad and perhaps destroy the ones he loves, and quite possibly the world as he knows it. He is also a reincarnation of Lews Therin Telamon, The Dragon, who fought The Dark One in another Age. Rand, The Dragon Reborn, must fight the Dark One again in The Last Battle, because The Dark One and his Forsaken have escaped from their prison once more.

As we come to find out, Rand is from a very powerful, though isolated, little village, The Two Rivers. His friends have special powers of their own. Mat, the Trickster, has inherited memories of battle strategy, therefore, he can and will be a great general. He is also very lucky in games of chance. Perrin, my personal favorite, is a quiet, broad-shouldered blacksmith, who can talk to wolves. He may or may not be able to keep himself from turning more animal than man.

Egwene, who Rand thought he would marry, can also channel. Women who channel are not in danger, once they learn, although channelling on their own kills one in every 4 women. Egwene is very powerful in her own right. Nynaeve, another favorite of mine, was the Village Wisdom, and is a few years older than the rest. She is a Wilder, one who taught herself to channel on her own, though she didn’t know it. She is the most powerful Aes Sedai (the name for women who can channel) in the series, but as of Book Four, she can only channel when angry. But really, don’t make her angry. She can also be extremely stubborn, to put it mildly.

The World of the Wheel of Time Series is filled with the fierce, desert-dwelling Aiel, the cryptic, manipulative Aes Sedai, their bound, powerful Warders, the elegant, vastly cruel Seanchan, the exotic, sea-faring Atha’an Miere, the gentle Ogier (but, really, don’t make them angry, either), and the honor-bound Shienarans, to name a few. It is fascinating to see these people struggle through the growth of their powers while they’re wrestling with the reasons they have the powers in the first place. Believe me, only a few of them are happy they can wield Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit, or have inherited memories they can’t explain.

Beneath all the magic and the epic battle between good and evil lies a coming of age story, and a story of trust. All characters have some struggle between what they want to do, and what it is their duty to do. As the Shienarans say, “Death is lighter than a feather, and duty is heavier than a mountain.”

Jordan has completed and published Book 11 of the series. Supposedly he has promised that if Book 12 has to be 2000 pages, it will be the last in the series. We’ll see what happens. Until then, I will continue on. Perrin has just returned to The Two Rivers, with a price on his head by the Whitecloaks. Rand, Mat and Egwene are in the desert with the Aiel, and Nynaeve is hunting the Black Ajah. Where will duty take them next?

1 comment:

Linda S said...

I love this series. And it is one of the few fantasy series I keep reading. It seems that after the first 2 or 3 books of a series, I get bored with it all and quit.

But here is my problem.....and I have done this several times. I read until the last published book, then go back in a year or two to pick up the most current release. By that time, I have forgotten most of the details and some of the story. So I have to go back and reread a couple of books to get back into it. And since I always have more books that I want to read than I have time to read, it is hard for me to pick up a book that I have already read (unless of course, the book is one of my all-time favorites). It is good to know that book 12 will be the last.

Good luck on completing the series. Jordan's story is entertaining and a welcomed relief from reality.