Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy adventure, The Wheel of Time series, offers readers much to appreciate beyond fantasy and adventure. Begun in 1990, and brought to its monumental conclusion fourteen volumes later in 2012 by Brandon Sanderson, a fantasy icon in his own right, this wide-ranging narrative touches on questions of free will, destiny, the nature of evil, and the power of love, all while never flagging as a wild, world-bending, fantasy.
The story follows the lives of childhood friends, Rand al’Thor, Matrin Cauthon, Perrin Aybarra, Nynaeve al’Meara, and Egwene al’Vere who flee their small village in a hinterland outpost of the kingdom of Andor, under the protection of Moiraine Damodred, an infamous channeler of the One Power. As they journey away from their home, chased by the agents of the Dark One, a being who personifies the forces of evil, these five are joined by a cast of characters as diverse and interesting in their own right that the reader is soon immersed in a world so fascinating and unusual, that the thousands of pages it takes to read their story fly by.
What is most interesting, however, is how Jordan and later Sanderson manage to make this enormous tale feel deeply personal. With each chapter or chapter segment, they remain firmly in the head of one point-of-view character, both the evil and the honorable, offering the reader a rare glimpse into the workings of an enemy’s heart, in addition to his or her mind. As Rand and his friends move closer with each page toward the inevitable Final Battle, the authors manage to explore topics as important as life’s purpose, the question of freedom in the face of duty and destiny, and the purpose of power. At the same time, the work contains enough humor, bloody battles and flirtatious romance that it will keep even the most demanding readers happy.
Volumes have been written by fans on wikis and fan-sites to help keep the labyrinthine tale straight, so this series needs no detailed summary from me. Well worth the effort.
Violence = +++
Sexual Tension = only mildly overt. All sexual encounters occur off camera.
For readers 12 and up.