Tuesday, December 1, 2009

That Empty Feeling Again

I hate this. You know that feeling when you find a really great book, one that consumes you for two days straight as you plough through it, captivated? And then you finish it only to find that the world is cold and hollow? Well it’s been over a week now since I finished ‘The Gathering Storm’, book twelve of The Wheel of Time, and I’ve been in that dark place since.

Ok, maybe I’m being a wee bit over dramatic here. It’s not as if the book was some great literary masterpiece or anything. It’s just that I, and about a zillion other geeks like me, had been waiting on this latest instalment in the epic for FOUR YEARS. For an addict four years is a long time. Very long.

The death of it’s author, Robert Jordan, in 2007 didn’t help hurry things along. Nor did it bode well for the conclusion of the saga. Fortunately, and I say that only after reading the book, fellow fantasy novelist and fan of the series Brandon Sanderson took up his hero’s mantle (and the supposed mountain of notes that Jordan spun out before he died). Thank the Light for that!

I have to admit that, as much as I craved it, I really didn’t expect to enjoy the novel as much as I did. First of all, after 20 years and 11 novels (+one prequel), the world of The Wheel of Time suddenly had a new master. This was inevitable. With Jordan’s sad passing, Tor publishing suddenly had a legion of hungry consume-o-bots (like me) and nothing to sell them. Oh no, what’ll they do?

Turn what was supposed to one book into three, that’s what. My heart sank when I heard this was the plan. I know I was not alone in my desire for closure on the series. Jordan himself had promised that he’d wrap up the story in one final publication, “even if it ended up 2,000 pages long”. It was only fair to the fans. For a moment there, it seemed that noble sentiment had died with the man it came from.

In fairness, I can now see why it is so. I’m even happy about having two more WoT novels to look forward to. Young Sanderson fits his master’s boots quite comfortably, so Tor did well on that account. As for splitting the conclusion in three, well, judging from the way the plot is forming, I can see that it was necessary. Anything else would’ve either made Jordon’s joke estimate of 2,000 pages seem conservative, or resulted in one very hurried and unsatisfying ending. So Tor did right on that account too.

You have to forgive my scepticism of such publishers, I’ve fallen into their honey trap once to often in my quest to ‘find-out-what-happens-next’.

I’m glad they got me this time, though, even if it has brought me to where I now find myself, sulking with all the other books on my shelf for not being Number 13. I’ve started and stopped reading three other novels since last week, but I just can’t take to them. The Wheel of Time is so very epic, it really gets under your skin once you get into it. One needs time to recover from a dose of it.

It’s like when your favourite pair of trainers finally pack in and you’re forced to wear that ‘new’ pair you bought months ago. You eventually come to love them too, but not before a spell of huffing. Well, that’s the way it is for me anyway.

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