There are neither beginnings nor endings in the turning of the Wheel of Time, but Robert Jordan’s epic series had a beginning, hard as it is to believe, almost 24 years ago, and, as far as I’m concerned, it ended yesterday. I got into it around 2001, and quickly devoured the first four books. How could I not? The world Jordan created was incredible in its scope and detail, the storytelling was compelling, and the characters just right. Jordan did show something of a tendency to take it slow through most of the books, only to end them in a short whirlwind of action, but that was a minor annoyance.
A minor annoyance, until the end of the book four. Then it became clear that the entire series, then projected at 12 fairly large volumes, will be taking the same structure. Subplots, with no ends in sight, started spawning. Author’s fetish for female clothing took a prominent enough place on the stage to be considered a major character in its own, while the real characters kept running hither and dither aimlessly. By the time I finished the sixth book (not realising I hadn’t seen the worst at that point), I was reading just because I had started reading.
And then Jordan, having started his last three never-to-be-wrapped-up subplots and for the last time describing in exquisite detail the embroidery on a female character’s fancy silk dress, died. As ghoulish and insensitive I’ll be in saying this, that was the best thing that could’ve happened to his magnum opus (and in my less charitable moments, I keep looking in G.R.R. Martin’s direction when I think this). Brandon Sanderson came in, fashion analysis went into the background where it belonged, subplots got resolved in mostly satisfactory ways (I say mostly, because some resolutions did feel rushed, but I suppose there was no helping that), and the story ended in a book-long whirlwind of action, true to the original author’s style, with the good guys winning and the bad guys utterly defeated. I even got surprised a few times, as not everyone I expected to got to live happily ever after. One of the surprises? The ending is open to sequels. Seems like not everyone is ready to let the Wheel stop turning.
In conclusion, four of five stars to the series, which would’ve benefited from being about five or six books shorter. And a lesson (take note, Myke Cole): if one wants to properly make a protagonist who’s brooding on a truly epic scale, one needs to give him at least seven 1000-page books worth of space to do it in.