Tuesday October 12th, 2010

Oh, the Wheel in the Sky Keeps On Turnin’

eye-of-the-worldI’m hard-pressed to think of something I’m less likely to read than Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Dostoevsky in the original Russian? The entire United States tax code? Currently spanning 13 books, most of them between 700 and 1,000 pages, the Wheel of Time tells a fantastical story that sounds part Bible, part Tolkien, part Tatooine: the usual stew of nerd influences. The books have elegant titles like The Path of Daggers and Knife of Dreams.

In the new issue of The Believer, Zach Baron writes about the Wheel of Time, and about the effort, after Jordan’s death in 2007, to find a writer to finish the series. A piece:

Real-life combat experience is something that Jordan, a former helicopter gunner (he claimed to have once shot a rocket-propelled grenade out of midair), shared with Tolkien, who witnessed all but one of his closest friends die in World War I. But where the don of modern fantasy boasted a dusty, Oxford-certified facility with language, philology, and the Middle Ages, Jordan made himself over after Vietnam in the classic mode of the American genre-fiction author. A bearded man with a penchant for elaborate canes, chunky rings, and comical hats, he favored the look of a Southern general. He admitted to being a Freemason. At Q&A sessions, he would not hesitate to interrupt a small child’s incorrect pronunciation of a tertiary character’s name. He wrote the series for which he became famous in an old carriage house cluttered with swords, axes, crossbows, spears, knives, and a human skeleton.