Ubergeekdom > Books

The Wheel of Time


After over a year off and on, I finally finished the full series a few minutes ago. Honestly one of the most beautiful things I've ever read. When I think of the kind of legacy I'd love to be able to leave behind whenever I write, The Wheel of Time is it.

I know I've mentioned them before and I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one here that's read them. Let's talk nerd.

Krakow Sam:
You're own your own breh. Even I'm not a big enough dork to read Wheel of Time.

What's it about? Wizards?

In a way. The basic concept is that there's this big bad Dark One He Who Shall Not Be Named Devil sealed in a prison which weakens every few thousand years until sealed by this prophesied reincarnated warrior called the Dragon Reborn. This ad infinitum cycle is known as the Pattern, which repeats with each turning of the Wheel of Time. The Creator of all that is great and sunshine and super happy fun time set the wheel in motion to weave into the Pattern an assortment of souls, not just the Dragon Reborn, in order to defend the Pattern from the return of the dark one.

It sounds like pretty standard fantasy fare nowadays, but what makes it stand out is that the emphasis is on a conflict of cultures. The series is told through a dozen different perspectives, and each of them is raised with different cultural norms, traditions, etc., not to mention the relatively normal stuff you see in fiction such as differences in gender, race, or class. The Wheel of Time showcases the evolution of culture, why people believe the way they do, and how similarly people from different cultures can actually act. It uses the central prophecy as a backboard for this: Each of the series' many diverse nations are perverse, distorted offspring of nations from the last turning. Each culture has different interpretations of the coming of the Dragon, or even a different set of prophecy altogether, and they often disagree on the exact details of their own heritages. The original author, Robert Jordan, did a lot of research on assorted real world examples of diverse cultures meeting for the first time, such as the initial discovery of the New World, and it shows.

The Wheel of Time is a story about overcoming prejudice and first impressions, about the importance of free will and the value of individual life. it does this by telling the same story from a dozen distinct perspectives. How they form the beliefs they have, how they react to contradictory evidence, how they grow as a result, and more often than not, how they lose their lives for the sake of that revelation.

Krakow Sam:
Hmm, sounds neat actually.

If you like that culture clash type stuff and genre novels I'd recommend Dune. One of the best (if not the best) scifi book I've ever read.


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