I started reading Robert Jordan’s Eye of the World series in the seventh grade, way back in 1992 (that will make me sound really young or really old to most readers, I’m sure). I’ll admit it: it didn’t hook me right away. I actually put it down, and then a few months later, I picked it up. I got a couple hundred pages into it, and then I was hooked. I started tearing through those doorstop-sized books as quickly as my little hands and mind could handle.
It has been a really interesting journey as a fan. I started when I was 12. I will be 32 when the final book in the series, A MEMORY OF LIGHT, comes out in January. I used to buy all the books in paperback, and they quickly took over a bookshelf’s width of space.
And yes, I whined and complained that the later books weren’t as good as the earlier books. I joked that Jordan was getting paid by the word or that his wife shouldn’t have been his editor. But as Brandon Sanderson (more on him later) pointed out, maybe it was simply that my expectations were so high, and that because I had to wait so long between books, the material couldn’t live up to those expectations, and I soured. Sanderson argued that if you picked up the series now, and read straight through, you wouldn’t see the dip in quality that other fans complained of. I think there may be something to Sanderson’s theory (After all, I can see a similar pattern happening among some fans of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series), but at the same time, I do think it’s fair to say that the plot did slow down a bit during those middle books.
(And if you haven’t started reading it, I highly recommend it. In fact, if anyone is starting the series now, please let me know what you think as you get past book 4 or so. This really is a classic among epic fantasy series. It should be read widely. I’m just curious about other’s reactions to it.)
And yes, I got worried when I realized Jordan may not live to finish his series. I wondered if it would go unfinished or what. Thankfully, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan selected Brandon Sanderson to finish the series with the help of notes and journals Jordan had written. This was an amazing pick, when you think about it. He was relatively unknown at the time. It’s not like Sanderson had a long trail of bestsellers. But what a pick. They picked a superstar. And I’ve been really impressed with Sanderson’s efforts. The last few books have set up one helluva finale.
It’s quite something to realize that this series has been with me for about 2/3 of my life. I have a copy of Eye of the World that is held together with tape, glue, and hope. I have copies of the latest books stored on my Kindle. During these 20 years, the series has survived a transition in authors and a transition in publishing format. It will be bittersweet to see the series go. I’m looking forward to it, and I’ll be sad to see it go. It’s been a part of most of my life.
So what if you’re like me, eager to read A MEMORY OF LIGHT? Well, Tor.com has posted the first chapter, “Eastward the Wind Blew” online for you to read. Just an appetizer to tease you for three months or so until A MEMORY OF LIGHT is released. Enjoy.
UPDATE: THE CHAPTER TEXT DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS FOR THE PROLOGUE OF A MEMORY OF LIGHT.