Since I’m raving constantly this month about complete narratives contained (or not, as the case seems to be) within a book, I thought I’d examine a popular, COMPLETED series that exhibits both characteristics.
The Wheel of Time is a best-selling fantasy series by the currently and, hopefully, permanently deceased Robert Jordon. Even at an astounding 14 books in its completed format, the Wheel of Time doesn’t strike me as a particularly outrageous.
Except, according to legend, the series was only meant to span 6 books. Hell, it was pitched as a trilogy because, well, because they’re ALWAYS trilogies. So, what happened?
Short answer: No idea.
What I can say for sure is that the books begin to bloat. I’m not talking about book size. That stayed relatively consistent. Upon reflection of the completed series, it definitely reads like it was supposed to be shorter, before story tangents became full-blown books and characters are resurrected in what feels like filler (because that’s what it is).
The following demonstrates how I feel the Wheel of Time is established by stories, not books.
- Story 1 (book 1): We are introduced to our primary trio of heroes: Matrim, Rand, and Perrin. Their adventure is initiated and they begin their quest. On the way, they (0bviously) get split up, all while discovering their own destinies.
- Story 2 (book 2): The group make significant progress, culminating in Mat blowing the legendary horn, a significant marker on the way to Tarmon Gai’don (the final battle). The world becomes aware of the existence of the Dragon Reborn.
- Story 3 (book 3): Perrin finally makes story progression, learning about his dream abilities. The Aeil, the first power house to do so, submit their allegiance to Rand as the Dragon Reborn.
- This gets a little dicey. It’s a point of discussion among my friends as to whether it’s a complete story of if this is where Jordan begins to meander. It’s definitely apparent but I’d make the case that it’s still a complete story.
- Story 4 (books 4-6): Mat gets his army of bandits, trades his one eye for knowledge and becomes a key player. Rand gets 3 lovers, tying him politically to 3 major powers and begins to consolidate his power. But mostly, it’s Mat’s story progression.
- Story 5 (books 7-9): Rand cleanses the male source, the Saiden. No more men going insane from Channeling. Meanwhile, Mat’s not doing anything. And Perrin is busying learning about being a leader and controlling his wolf dream abilities. Mostly, Rand cleanses the Saiden.
- Story 5.5 (books 10-11): There isn’t really a story here. It’s mostly moving everyone into place for the final battle, because over the course of the previous seven books, they’ve all gotten shuffled around, almost needlessly so, while some battles are essentially rehashed.
- Story 6 (books 12-14): The final battle. Rand, Mat, and Perrin all do their thing and save the world.
There we have it. 6 stories in 14 books. Verbose is one thing. By the time book 5 begins, the Wheel of Time is starting to feel like a slog.