|23 Years in the Making...|
Yesterday, the last book of my childhood hit the shelves. Robert Jordan’s uber-epic (I think 14 books qualifies as uber) Wheel of Time comes to an end with A Memory of Light.
It’s one of those books I’m torn about reading. Do I rush out, buy it and devour it in one night because omigoshican’twaitanymoreit’sabouttime!? Or, do I hold out for as long as I can, because this is it, no more new words, and that kind of makes me sad?
See, this was the series that made me want to write fantasy. I’ve sung praise (probably ad nauseum) about how much I love the characters and the world, and how much Jordan inspired me, so today I just want to share a story:
In 1994, a few years after The Eye of the World was first published, Tor printed a promotional mini-version. Brandon Sanderson tweeted a while back that this was at Harriet McDougal’s (Jordan’s wife and editor) request, and the promo book only included the first 18 chapters.
A couple more years passed. Enter my grandma, who is, to this day, the consummate rummager (Seriously, ask her to find something and she will have it the next day!). She stumbled across this mini-version at some local rummage sale and knew nothing about it, except that her crazy book-obsessed granddaughter loved fantasy, and this novel with horses and people carrying swords on the cover might be a good match. She bought it for something like fifty cents, which is funny because I think the promo version was originally free, and gave it to me.
I also knew nothing about it—I think I was twelve—but I read it. And loved it! It was an adventure, a well-written, complex, intricate adventure with characters who were funny and loyal and sometimes clueless, just like me. In short, I was hooked. I got to the end of the promo and felt a little subconscious nudge urging me to see if the story had ever been finished. I simply had to find out what happened to these characters!
I was pretty much beyond words when I realized there was not only one completed book in the series, but about eight more by that point, too. I didn’t know authors could do that, not to that extent. I didn’t know there were stories that cool someone would let you continue to tell them. It was like a dream come true.
I had started high school by then and told my friends about this series. Every single one of them is now hooked in one way or another. My friend, Andy, owns a heron-marked blade. I devoured all of the next thirteen books, still loving the characters, being heartbroken when Jordan died with his masterpiece unfinished, cheering when Brandon Sanderson took over, and now, at long last, watching it come to a close.
I owe an awful lot to the fact that my grandma happened to pick up that particular book at a rummage sale (She teases me that she had no idea the type of monster she’d create). And it leaves me simply wanting to say thank you. Thank you to Robert Jordan for dreaming this up. Thank you to Harriet and the team at Tor who believed in it and made it possible. Thank you to Brandon Sanderson for doing a breathtaking job of revitalizing the series while staying true to its core. Thank you to Big Guy upstairs for letting me discover Wheel of Time and my own love for writing—they happened so closely together it’s hard to mention one without the other.
I’ve learned so many lessons from studying WOT over the years that I joke with friends that I won’t truly know how to write a final scene until I see how Jordan does it. I guess we’ll see…