A Modern Review of the Wheel of Time Books

The good, the bad and the overview

I don’t think you’d be surprised to find out that I am a fantasy book fanatic. Well, I recently dove into the series The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and later Brandon Sanderson). It is a fascinating and lengthy read considering the book’s large cast of characters and equally long story which fills the pages of 14 huge volumes… all before we get to the prelude books and supplemental materials.

So, why embark on such a lengthy journey? Is it worth it? The Wheel of Time is a classic battle between good and evil, with a few shades of grey filling in between the lines. Jordan created an incredible world with an interesting cast of characters. His high-magic setting and cyclical view on time are fascinating as are all his complex characterizations. I will admit, I don’t believe him to be the technical wizard of writing I wish he was. Several chapters, books even, tend to ramble on, and his general pacing is unlike anything I can compare it to. Still, it’s a series I, personally, couldn’t put down with characters and moments that will stay with me for a lifetime.

The Good

Let’s start with the good. The world building is incredible. Jordan paints a vivid picture of the lives of the people within his world. From queens to farmers, by the end, you know what their life is like and what the changes the story brings does to them. You follow magic users and understand how they cast, blacksmiths and learn a bit about their trade, royalty and learn how they rule and why, and even swordsmen and how they fight their battles. There are systems of honor, laws, religions, cults, societies, cultures, and even beasts which are detailed along the way. The most fascinating part is how Jordan tackles myths and legends in a world with cyclical time. Often, the stories from the world’s history are greatly exaggerated, but there are instances you encounter where they aren’t and even the opposite.

His characters and their journeys are memorable and enrapturing. He balances such a huge cast, but that lets you have plenty of chances to pick favorite characters. I found that by the end, I loved almost all of them, which is not something I usually do. They go on interesting journeys and all have distinct personalities and traits that are enforced and broken as they learn and grow.

The length is also a boon. Sometimes, you want a long story to fantasize over, and this one delivers. It took me a year to casually comb through all of its majesty, and it is a year of hobby-time well spent. The audio books are just as good as the written word, too, if you love car reading as much as I do.

If you like heroic battles, comedic battles, or just battles, in general, The Wheel of Time is the book series for you. War and dueling is a huge part of the series, and I enjoyed just about every occurrence. It sets the mind to creating such wonderful imagery, and that is one of my favorite parts.


The Not So Good

Now that we’ve explored a few of the good points, let me tell you what fell a little flat in my eyes. First was his pacing. Most of the book’s endings seem to come out of left field, and while it can be satisfying, it throws you and can leave you in a weird headspace about it. In the last three books, Sanderson does fix this issue, but that’s still 11 books you need to get through to get used to it.

There are a lot of plots that go nowhere for long periods of time (or at least move at a snail’s pace). There were times when even my favorite plots made me lose interest in the middle as they took multiple books to conclude. Most of the series isn’t gripping enough to give you that “I must stay up reading” feeling, which isn’t bad for the casual reader, but points out a flaw in its theory.

Many characters and subplots are mostly forgotten until Sanderson wrapped them up. There are characters and mysteries that also never get brought up again, which is disconcerting, to say the least. Also, some complain that the repetition Jordan used to describe the ticks of some of the characters, such as braid pulling or grinding teeth, are far too overused. It did not bother me, personally, but it comes up so often that it is like a small joke.

While I enjoyed two of the relationships which occurred in the series heavily, the bulk fall incredibly flat. Many feel forced in for “the reader” or just to give them something happy to focus on, and while it is human for relationships to be in most lives, I found it not an enjoyable part of the reading. 

To wrap up my points, The Wheel of Time series still waves more heavily on the good than it does the bad, but that does not mean there aren’t moments that will make you sigh. If you are a fan of epic sagas, good and evil philosophy, or just fantasy, in general, I suggest you give it a try. I really did love the series despite all its apparent flaws and will likely even re-read it in a few years when my memories fade. I, honestly, look forward to it.

Damian C. King or "Vicious Avarice" graduated with a BFA from VCU in 2010 and went on to become a prolific filmmaker in Hollywood over the past decade. Though he continues to produce features under his company Fantasy Forge Films, recently, he has reignited his passion for writing, focusing on poetry and fantasy novels. In January 2022, he published the children’s book “The Christmas Monster” which can be pre-ordered here (https://pegasuspublishers.com/books/coming-soon/the-christmas-monster). He looks forward to contributing to Malorie’s Adventures and asks all to keep an eye out for his future books which always carry with them a fantastical whimsy born of the imagination.

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