Traveler, Reader, Political Blogger.
I have just completed the Wheel of Time series for the second time. The first was just prior to the death of Robert Jordan and obviously prior to the final ending of the series by Sanderson. This time of course with the series finale. I offer this review for the entire series for the reader/listener s evaluation prior to the large investment of time and money involved.
The Pro's: WOT gives a great deal of material for the money. It could easily take a year to fully read/listen to the entire series of books. Using credits, the cost vs. quantity in hours of listening is a great deal. Robert Jordan does indeed provide a wonderfully detailed view of his world and characters. The narrators perform wonderfully with very clear diction and voice changes for the different characters not to mention pronunciation of some very weird names.
The Con's: Obviously this is subjective on my part... The story is extremely convoluted. There are literally hundreds of characters all seemingly doing their own thing progressing the story so slowly that one is unable to sense any story progression often for volumes at a time. Back in the day prior to Jordan's death. Readers and critics had reached a point where the author was being generally accused of milking to story for profit. After Jordan's death, it took Sanderson literally three large volumes to tie up all of the loose ends and provide a satisfying end to the saga. On the side of the protagonists, we find perhaps 10 main characters. The lead characters are rural kids with chips on their shoulders unskilled and not particularly clever but happen to be able to draw magical power under limited circumstances which combined with an amazing set of coincides are able to pull themselves out of their childish blunders. You may find yourself rooting for the Dark friends and the Trollocks as the only characters who seem to have their act together.
Books 1-5 are great as they open the story and the world. Books 6-8 One begins to notice a story pattern. Character refuses to take advice, gets mad, stomps feet, does something stupid, gets captured, gets rescued in the nick of time. The girls endlessly bicker like children and compete to get the hero's attention. Books 9 -11 Read the WOT SUMMARY and decide of you can skip these. Books 12-14 Sanderson takes over the story , brings order, ties the ends and concludes the story in a way worthy of your listening efforts and time.
Before you start the series, print WOTSUMMARY.com and List of Wheel _of_time_ characters from wikipedia. You will need this as a score card.
I got audible for the purpose of re-reading this series. It was so detailed that although I was able to keep the characters straight, it was hard to remember specific subplotlines. I still enjoyed it immensely. Enough to commit 14 credits to the work. But for those new to the series who do not like extensive detail and can't abide teen angst books 1,2 and 10+ are the must reads. For the others read abridged or in depth summaries. I'll be reading them all though; to go further into the Wheel's tapestry.
I love the male female switch-unexpected and pleasant surprise. Also good for Jordan's style. Oh and read that prequel either before this one or right afterwards. It will give you a whole new look at Moraine and Lan. (and totally affirms picking her as my favorite character)
I read this book many times, but never listened to the audiobook version. It really was a breath of fresh air! I think I have almost all the books in this mega series. Stay tuned as I go to The Hunt for the Horn.
I loved the story, imagery was great and the narrators did a good job with the voices of so many characters. I bought the next book before finishing :)
My only comment, though perhaps this is common, is that I expected with there being two narrators they would own characters throughout but instead they took their own sections of the story. Logistically this might not be typical, but nevertheless it did bring me out a bit when narration switched because the voices for the characters change. This is relatively minor though, both do a great job - just thought it worth mentioning for others with similar expectations.
A trilogy. Say it in three. Done.
The series begins here. Hooray for 3rd person POV in fantasy writing! 3.5 stars for the story itself, almost 4. I listened and I also read, interchangeably. 30 hours of narration. Yikes. The narration is supposedly shared by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, but Kramer narrated 80% of the book. When Kate finally did read, it sounded out of place, after hours of hearing Kramer's voice. Both Kramer and Reading are superb narrators.
Frustrating glitch in audio-kindle book pairing — the chapter breaks in the Audible audiobook do NOT correspond with the chapters breaks in the kindle book.
FYI -- There is a glossary (characters, places, things) at the end of the kindle book. Wish I'd known that before I came to the end. Could have used it along the way. I did refer to Wiki pages, and to maps posted online.
I enjoyed this epic fantasy novel — the first in an über-popular series — but it felt too long. That's the main reason for 3.5 stars instead of 4. That's just me -- some people love long books, but I get annoyed with writing weaknesses in long books that I might more readily overlook in shorter books. In my estimation, there was no reason for 800+ pages. The trip from Emond's Field to Caemlyn took soooo long, with similar scenes feeling repetitive. My sense of momentum diminished as the group was endlessly attacked by trollocs and fades and dark friends and children of the light. These villains were ceaselessly hunting down the three young men, Mat, Perrin, and Rand. Admittedly, some of those action scenes were quite suspenseful, but for me, too similar.
Despite the length of the books and the series, I liked the characters well enough to maybe read another. It's always the characters with me — they make or break a story. Not to say these main protagonists didn't irritate me at times, always keeping secrets from each other, despite being best friends.
I also appreciate how Jordan set up an intriguing sense of suspense around the characters. I appreciated not knowing exactly who is a friend and who is working for the dark side. Even people supposedly "in the Light" might be serving the Dark One. Jordan created some totally repellant villains, especially those creepy children of the light. Then there is the mysterious, enigmatic Aes Sedai, with all their different factions (Red Ajah, Black Ajah, Blue Ajah, etc.). I didn't know if I could trust Morraine. I didn't know if I could trust the Gleeman, Thom Merrilin. I still don't know for sure about them. I wasn't sure about the wolf-man Elyas, either (but I loved the wolves). I even wonderd about Mat — whether he would go to the dark side. I feel confident in the Ogier, Loial, and liked him, but who knows if I'm right to trust him? So, Jordan did well creating suspense around the characters.
As other reviewers have said, the book feels derivative of Tolkein: the insular shire, the stubborn, sturdy folk of the shire, the journey from Emond's Field (the shire) into the big amazing world, the motley group (Tolkein's fellowship), the "one power" (the one ring), the Mountains of Dhoom, names like Galadedrid, etc.
I also heard echoes similar to characters from King Arthur (Gawyn, King Artur Paendrag / Pendragon, Morgase) and even some similarities to Biblical characters (Ba'Alzamon for Beelzebub, Shai'tan for Satan, etc). Jordan's world also features various aspects of Old English/ Norse mythology: the Green Man, the festival of spring called Bel Tine with dancing around the May Pole, etc. I felt this was a fairly strange mix of mythology, old literature, and culture.
Then there are the prevailing Hindi and Buddhist themes around the Wheel of Time, the Web of Destiny, the Pattern of the Age, the concept of legends reborn, reincarnation. History repeating. I liked this well enough, and am intrigued by the ta'veren, defined as "a person around whom the Wheel of Time weaves all surrounding life-threads, perhaps all life-threads, to form a Web of Destiny" (glossary). I liked how the main ta'veren Rand would feel all buzzy and dizzy when something "lucky" was going to happen, like sudden lightning just when it's needed most. As the seer Min said, sparkles flicker around Rand in her third-eye vision. These lucky sparkles made me think of The Liaden Universe space opera series and I wondered if authors Lee and Miller picked up their notion of "luck" surrounding Clan Korval from Jordan's Wheel of Time. The similarities are slight, though.
So whatever... the derivative wheel goes on. I'm mostly okay with that, unless it feels totally borrowed. Jordan isn't there yet with me...yet. I'll read the sequel.
But I hope the books aren't all so long. I prefer fewer than 600 pages, max.
I really loved this book. The change of narrator threw me a bit at first, and it bothered me that they didn't pronounce certain words the same way, but that went away as the book went on. I actually really like the female narrator. Great book! Definitely recommend!!!!
I love the narrator in this book, his voice fits well with the story. The second female narrator appearing occasionally was a little jarring, only because it felt like she only had 3 or 4 chapters to read and I wondered why the original narrator didn't just continue.
The story itself flowed well and I can't wait to listen to the second book!