The Eye of the World came out in 1990 as I was finishing high school. Everyone loved it. By everyone, I mean everyone I knew who read fantasy novels. There were no new elements here. But it all hung together so well. There was a rich backstory and a grand potential for an epic.
The Great Hunt came out the same year. Ah two books in the same year. How spoiled we were. The main character Rand began to develop. The book ends in a huge climax. There were rumours that the series was originally intended as a trilogy, but I began to see that it was going much longer. So many Forsaken to face before the Dark One. Three more books maybe?
The Dragon Reborn. One year later. 1991. The first misstep I think. Rand, the protagonist, disappears for most of the book. The author began to focus on developing the secondary characters. Then the tertiary characters. Can you have smaller roles than tertiary? No role turned out to be small in the end.
1992. 1993. 1994. A book a year. We were now up to 6. Guess it will go longer than 5 books. We all went into the Waste together. I was still in university, but I’d now had the series in my life for more than half a decade. I started to wonder if it would ever end.
1996. 1998. 2000. Book 9. 10 years. We were slowing down the pace. People were starting to lose interest in the series. This is still 12 years ago. 12! But Winter’s Heart was finally the beginning of the end. The protagonist accomplished a major goal. Huzzah! A couple book more.
2003. Three years. Momentum lost. And gah! We back up in time and catch the characters up and then repeat the climax of the previous book. Crossroads of Twilight, you killed the series for many. 10 books now. Pretty much the longest fantasy series ever. 13 years. Each book still excited and normally enthralled, but the quirks and peccadilloes of the writing were more obvious and annoying.
2005. The last book Mr. Jordan writes. The 11th and supposedly the 2nd last. It was a pretty awesome book. A return to form. Hard to convince those who had left in the first half of the decade to return though. Who could remember all the details over 11 books and 15 years? Who had the time to reread the previous volumes? Fortunately I did.
2007. No book, but Robert Jordan passes away. I have no idea what he was like. About who he was. But I’d read his longest and most popular series. I’d like to say I’d miss the man, but it would e more honest to say i’d miss his writing.
A new writer is found to finish the books. His first effort in 2009 is shaky, but a relief to those of us who wanted to see the end. A different voice was odd, but also welcome. Oddly I really found new enthusiasm.
But it wasn’t the last. Oh no. When Sanderson was brought in as writer, he reviewed the notes. “This can’t be done in a single book,” he said. I’m not sure the right series of events. I’m sure I could look it up online. Finally, they had settled on turning the 12th book into a trilogy. 2009 was the first as I mentioned above. 2010 the second.
January 13, 2013 will be the third. The 14th book. Roughly 24 years. But it will finally be over. In the 90s this series was a big part of my novel reading life. Now it is much smaller. I’m intimidated by what I’ll need to do to prepare for this release. But I am so eager to finally see the end of the story.
The end. Wow.
That has got to be something.