Books throw the reader into a new world. A fantastical world, a world strikingly similar to our own, or reminiscent of our childhood. A world depicting the future or the past. A world that may affect our own. Here we explore the alternate worlds of stories- a parallel universe.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"The Wheel of Time turns" ~Robert Jordan

I started A Crown of Swords this morning, the seventh installment in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series.

 An error in judgment? 

Probably.  Because after reading only the prologue I’m once again thoroughly trapped in a world approaching Tarmon Gai’don, the last battle between dark and light, the battle that decides all battles.  The winners in this one are the winners for eternity.
Not exactly an ideal setting for a story about finding oneself and growing up, especially when finding yourself may mean finding a not so pleasant destiny…

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills and master storyteller Jordan turns the Wheel of Time to spin together the threads of three naïve teenage boys from a town in the middle of nowhere; boys, who long for adventure, but quickly realize the stories leave out the fear and danger, the confusion and betrayal.  What begins as an action-packed coming-of-age story in the first book morphs in the sequels into an epic tale of battle and love, conniving and subterfuge, rash decisions and powerful magic- any fantasy lover’s dream.

Yet despite the many worlds already existing in the fantasy galaxy, the plot is not one that has been beaten into the dust by every book to come before it.  New, imaginative, and containing components across genres, the Wheel of Time creates a world that no one has ever encountered before.  Aside from the typical light versus dark, the story line drastically deviates from the ordinary, at times even leaving the reader questioning where the line between light and dark, magic and reality really lies.  Writing from multiple perspectives, the web Jordan weaves often appears a tangled mess, with events happening on one side of the world that in some way affect what is happening on the other, if only you could puzzle out how.  And then gradually the separate threads of separate people come together and a completely unpredicted pattern is formed.  The reader becomes trapped, trying to puzzle out the tangle, connect the dots.  Then awe sets in, at the unbelievable design the weave creates.   And every time there is some knot left somewhere for the next novel in the series to pick up.

Additionally, unlike some epic writers, Jordan truly takes the time to paint deep pictures of his characters instead of superficial sketches a reader soon forgets.  Starting with unique names- Perrin, Rand, Egwene, Nanaeve, Lan, Thom- and spiraling inward from there, Jordan deeply personalizes those whose tale he tells.  

More than detailed personalities though, Jordan also takes time to detail settings, to fling the doors of the world wide open for the reader to step through instead of simply providing a window through which they can view events from the sideline.  Reading these books is like being a part of them; you can see every room and landscape, touch every surface, thrill in every triumph and weep with every death. 

In short, for those of you looking for an adventure, you can find it and more in The Wheel of Time.  But be warned, addiction is a serious risk.    

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