Archive for Wheel of Time

Elantris

Posted in Books with tags , on March 4, 2009 by xi'an

Elantris is the first novel written by Brandon Sanderson, who, as posted earlier, is in charge of completing The Wheel of Time, based on the notes left by Robert Jordan. I read it out of curiosity, to see what style we could expect in the final volume of The Wheel of Time and I am rather disappointed by the result! Compared with the Mistborntrilogy from the same author, which is mostly enjoyable (even though the characters are also somehow lacking in depth), Elantris is clearly missing: the setting (of the city of Elantris and of its surnatural characteristics) is well-thought, but the plot is very predictable, with (spoiler?!) the recovery of the lost city at the end, and, worse, the characters are incredibly caricatural. They reminded me of David Edding’s characters in The Belgariad, so it figures! Basically, there are three major characters and they manage to run the whole book. All other characters have stereotyped features that make them rather uninteresting… Just an example: the family of the main female character is made of children so perfect and bright that it does not seem possible Brandon Sanderson has ever spent time with children (or else I should introduce him to my kids!) So I hope either that Robert Jordan has left enough notes and hints for the style to remain consistent with the previous volumes of The Wheel of Time or that the author’s style gains in depth and psychology.

The Wheel keeps rolling…

Posted in Books with tags , , on November 29, 2008 by xi'an

For those of us who started reading The Wheel of Time series in 1990 when the first volume The Eye of the World appeared—I do remember reading it while house-sitting in Ithaca—, the vigil for the conclusion of this epic has been close to unbearable: eleven volumes and twenty-eight years later, the end is not yet in sight! When Robert Jordan died last year, it even sounded as if the investment in reading these (mostly enjoyable) seven thousand four hundred and nineteen pages (plus the three hundred thirty-six pages of New Spring!), remembering more than two thousands of characters and hundreds of places, had been in vain (except for the pleasure of reading the eleven first volumes!) as the last and final volume was too far from completion and that the one-before-last book, Knife of Dreams, was not pulling enough threads together… A few weeks after Robert Jordan’s demise, however, his wife and editor Harriet Rigney selected a young fantasy writer, Brandon Sanderson, to write the missing volume based on the numerous notes and indications Robert Jordan gathered and prepared before he died. From reading—and liking—both first volumes of the Mistborn series by this author, I gather this is potentially a good choice, a priori.

Unfortunately, Brandon Sanderson has just posted an announcement on his blog that he had now reached the 300k word landmark on his completion of the first draft of A Memory of Light. Unfortunately, because he added that it sounded more like 45%-50% of the book was now completed, rather than 75% as originally planned! Robert Jordan had already warned that this last volume would be the longest of all and that his publisher Tor would have to invent a new type of binding. But this most importantly means that the end of The Wheel of Time is not in sight, by far, and that we will most likely see the first half in print a year or so before the second half. In other words, the end is not due in one volume but in two, even if they share the same title… I do not suspect any foul play from the publisher trying to make more profit about this best-seller (who knows?, fans may dislike Mr. Sanderson’s rendering of Robert Jordan’s style and shun the second volume altogether). This additional delay is nonetheless frustrating, if only because one needs to re-read those earlier volumes from time to time to make sure to remember enough of the main characters and of the main threads in the Pattern.

The saga of publishing The Wheel of Time will thus span more than twenty years, a phenomenon quite in tune with the range and character gallery of the books. Two, maybe three generations, are together waiting for the final bit. The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills, but most of us would like to see it grind a wee less finely towards the end and stop rolling at a foreseeable horizon…