Posted by: Nathan M. | April 18, 2013

What Now? Reflections on the Wheel of Time

I have now finished the wheel of time. Actually, I finished it a couple weeks ago, but it sounds better in a blog-post to imply that I have literally just accomplished something and jumped onto the internet to tell you about it. Regardless, I’m done. It’s finished. It’s over. And…now what? The Wheel of Time was one of, if not the greatest fantasy series I have ever read (yes, I have read LOTR, and yes-I agree that it is the stuff of legend since it basically created the fantasy genre). For a series that continued for roughly 14 years, and that Robert Jordon began writing before I was born, the level of connectivity was astounding. I was always worried that, when a new book came out, I would not remember what had previously transpired. I found that, without fail, it did not take long for me to recover my memories of the series, and recall what my old friends Rand, Perrin, and Matt were up to. Yet, the story was grandiose, with a complexity of story-line unparalleled in anything I have ever encountered. Image

I am not going to enter detail into the story-line, because if you haven’t read it…you should. What I am interested in is how I responded to the ending, and how I have seen my friends respond. Previously, whenever we all finished a book, we would all yammer away about it and all of the different aspects of the story. We would expound our hypothesis for the future, and try to figure out all of the secrets that Robert Jordon and Brandon Sanderson embedded in the story-line for us to discover as we read on. You would think, then, that after we complete the entire series, we would be bursting to talk about what happened with each-other. Today, however, I mentioned to one of my friends that I had finished the series. I knew he had already done so from another friend. We briefly discussed when it had come out, and how long it had taken, and how we had gotten access to the books, and then we moved on to another conversation. Not a word was expressed about what happened in the book. Why?

I remember how I felt when I finished the text. I was at the house of my in-laws, sitting on their couch surrounded by various people doing various things. I read the last word in the book, I slowly shut the final cover, and I sat there. I was in a daze, inescapably caught in the trance of finishing this colossal work of fiction. I felt as though I should do something, or honour the ending somehow. I know, that seems pretty peculiar for a book, but these books have been part of my little bit of history. It was the end of an era, in a way. You get so caught in the world that Jordon and Sanderson create, that although it does not impact your reality, and you know it is fiction, you feel as though a window has been closed into another world. You have been allowed to watch, and yes-engage with a completely different land. Now that this window has been closed, you feel as though you are abandoning those who you were with for so long-those whom you watched and rooted for throughout their perilous lives. And so, you mourn-it is as though you have lost something. Some may ask if this makes the work have a less valuable ending, if this detracts from the closure of the book. I say that a work like this is unfamiliar ground, and we cannot be certain what the appropriate response is yet. I believe, however, that mourning is natural and good-it means that you were truly a part of the world, and the work is something that is worth mourning over when it comes to an end.

So then, why was it that my friend and I did not speak of the final book in the text? We had mourned the passing of a world-and we simply could not bear to re-enter that process. What has passed is gone, it will never be again. I may re-read the series some day, but just as I have discovered when re-watching the artfully crafted and brilliant T.V. series “Chuck”, when you go back and re-read, you are not entering a world and watching things transpire, you are reading history. History can be exciting, it can be interesting and fun, but it is not unfolding in front of you. And so, I say to you Wheel of Time and your authors-farewell, thank you for the amazing experience, I will miss you.

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Responses

  1. I just finished the series and 2 days later googled “I’ve finished wheel of time, now what?” To find your post. I whole heatedly agree with your feelings!!

  2. well said.

  3. Thank you!


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