In June 2014 I decided to undertake The WOT challenge.
In June 2015 I finished The WOT challenge.
Here is my interview about it with . . . err . . . me.
Q. What’s The WOT challenge?
A. Reading all The Wheel Of Time books back to back.
Q. Is that a trilogy?
A. 5 trilogies.
A. Exactly, 15 books (including prologue). It’s a series of high fantasy novels by the late Robert Jordan (pen name of Oliver Rigney Jr.). Completed by Brandon Sanderson after Mr Jordan’s passing, it weighs in at a total of around 4.4 million words.
Q. 12 months reading 1 series of books? Was it worth it?
Q. Will you do it again?
A. At some point – once I can look at someone with a braid in their hair and not think of the Two Rivers’ Womens’ Circle or see a skirt and not think of ‘smoothing it’ or ‘plucking at it’.
Q. Any regrets?
A. – There was a moment in the middle of the series where I wondered whether I had made the right decision. There were other (non swords & sorcery) books that I wanted to read, I was running out of space on my shelves and there are some passages that drag in places (Valan Luca, I’m looking at you…)
But . . .
Those other books weren’t going to go stale. And for every braid pulling, muttonheaded moment in The WOT there were passages that were gripping. For each dip in the middle of the central books, there was a rise towards the end that carried them over to the next. For every man that would never understand a woman and vice versa (Nynaeve, I’m looking at you…) there were moments of ‘how did he (they) come up with that?’ For every ‘good’ character that we lost, there was an equally satisfying comeuppance for the ‘bad’. And some of the sense of humour (Talmanes, I’m looking at you!) and creativity (e.g. the use of ‘Gateways’ in the Last Battle) towards the end is fantastic.
Q. “It’s all been done before/ it’s a rip off of LOTR/ what’s with the bible references/ it’s a black and white cliche/ just look at sentence X as an example of him being a bad writer…”
A. Blah blah woof woof. Yes. Many of the themes have been done before. Most stories have been ‘done before’, most songs have been sung before. Many stories, regardless of the setting, explore similar themes: loss, alienation, hate, revenge, jealousy and so on. In other words, love – feeling, ‘owning’, the lack of, search for or resentment of love. (And possibly also death and the fear of dying and failure, these fears are arguably very similar). Life and living comes down to one thing – love. All these essential elements of any type of story telling through words, sound or picture are present in The WOT.
And for those of you who are pulling out one sentence as an example of Mr Jordan being a ‘bad author’. Count the number of words in that sentence and then work that out as a percentage of the total number of words in the series.
Q. – Enough teenage cod psychology, back to the challenge! Why did you do it?
A. First reason – I hadn’t found time to read the last book (The Memory of Light) after it was published. When I started reading it I had forgotten some of the details. Logical solution: read everything again.
Second reason – I had given up on fantasy novels, I thought I was too old for them. Then George R.R. Martin became an ‘overnight success’. (1) All of a sudden, fantasy was acceptable again. I gave into peer pressure and read Game of Thrones and really enjoyed it. Yes, GOT is more graphic and realistic than many fantasy novels and has so been deemed by some as more ‘grown up’ (2) and so is ok to read. But for me, it was a logical step to read WOT again. Going back to my formative days as a reader (Druss, Belgarion, Sam Vimes and, yes even you, Frodo Baggins, I may be looking at all of you again at some point).
Third reason – why not? (3)
Fourth reason – a friend of mine had just started the challenge and inspired me to do the same.
Q. As a reader what did you get out of it?
A. A lot of enjoyment.
Q. As a rookie author what did you get out of it?
A. The imagination put into the world building (‘Randland’) and the histories are both inspiring and daunting. As for how the authors managed keep track of the various plots and characters, I have no idea. I have a lot to learn. A lot. Really. Lots…
Q. What was your thought on finishing the series?
A. Is there going to be a sequel?
– X –
1 – I’m being ‘ironical’.
2 – ‘Adult fantasy novels’ sound very different to ‘grown up fantasy novels.’
3 – This post is turning out a little more gushing that I planned. WOT is a fantasy series. It’s not everyone’s thing. I get it.