On October 27, thousands of rabid fantasy fans will clamor into bookstores across the country, grasping for copies of a book years in the making and much-anticipated. I will be among them.
Praise or censure, as well as the author's name, will undoubtedly be on our lips for weeks following the book's release. After all, fans have been discussing The Wheel of Time series with nerdy savor since Robert Jordan wrote The Eye of the World in 1990. The new arrival to the series? Book 12, The Gathering Storm. The author? Not Robert Jordan, but Brandon Sanderson.
The late Robert Jordan, whom some hail as the storytelling progeny of J.R.R. Tolkien, was not only a beloved author, but a Vietnam veteran, a nuclear engineer and a devoted husband. His many talents and experiences unfold into beautiful high fantasy writing in the New York Times bestsellers comprising The Wheel of Time. As he worked to complete the epic, Jordan died of a rare blood disease in 2007.
His, wife, Harriet, then opted for American writer Brandon Sanderson to conclude the series that has spellbound readers for almost two decades.
Trust this reformed skeptic when I say that The Wheel of Time is almost occult in its charm. After reading some very bad, very hackneyed modern fantasy novels, I steeled myself not to be hoodwinked by the hype surrounding The Wheel of Time, and to form an objective opinion. I was stunned. I found that The Wheel of Time is filled with originality and brilliant style, setting and characters that rank him with the best of the fantasy authors.
I admit that as I perused the first novel, Jordan's writing style confused me. He introduces a number of complex characters, alongside young protagonists Rand, Mat and Perrin, from the get-go, and makes zero effort to mute their complexity. Sudden turns of mood and incoherent thoughts spilling from the characters before I had a chance to get to know them disoriented me. Sometimes, it distracted me from the thrust of the book. I found myself often frustrated as I muddled through the streams of consciousness.