The Wheel of Time is an epic, fourteen book, 12,500 page fantasy series by Robert Jordan. It’s incredibly detailed worlds drew me in for the first ten books or so, but by then I was ready to move on. The problem was that I was too far in, at that point you kind of feel like the Dragon Reborn, destined to fight in the last battle, and then die. There’s no turning back at that point, so I continued, though I switched to the audio books.
Pure evil is about to be unleashed on the world, and there exists only one who can stop it. That’s about it, for the main plot line anyway. Every chapter we’re reminded that if they fail, the world will be consumed by evil. Right. Got it. I’ll never forget it, because it comes up constantly. So I couldn’t help but think about how painfully funny it would be if they failed. The final epilogue could be the Dark One just having a glass of wine and laughing and shrugging and saying “It feels goooood to be the king. Ayyyyyy!!!” and all of the Dark One’s cohorts have a dance party. Also it turns out the dark one is Arthur Fonzarelli. And then the Looney Tunes theme plays.
I’m on the last book, I’ll probably finish it next week. I’m excited to read something else, but I’ve been reflecting on the nature of such a massive undertaking. I can guess how it ends, it’s basically an elaborate western, the good guys will win, likable characters show up just in time, etc. It’s a stark contrast to the antiheroes of the popular Game of Thrones (which I’ve not read, but I love HBO’s adaptation.)
But seriously, it would be so funny if Rand al’Thor, The Dragon Reborn, the only one capable of defeating the Dark One; in his dying breath, bloody and defeated on Dragonmount gasps “I… I… pooooooot… I farted!” and then dies.
I think it’s my new life plan to write an epic fantasy series, one with millions of followers. I’ll delay the last book for years. I’ll die, and have another writer finish it (as happened with this series, when Brandon Sanderson was chosen to finish based on Jordans notes.) And the last chapter will just be juvenile jokes. Oh God that would be so funny.
The thing is, the storytelling is so detailed, and the scenes so intimately colored, that the pleasure of this series stems from being involved in the world. I’m not familiar enough with the fantasy genre to compare it to much, but it’s the same kind of writing that made the Lord of the Rings so successful I think. It’s a lovely place to exist. It’s a testament to good storytelling as well, if you can hold the attention of millions of readers for fourteen lengthy and often slow moving books. That said, it’s a nice thing to finish, it feels like an accomplishment. It’s nice to end and begin again.
But it would be so funny if it turned to distopia right at the end.
“There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”