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Ponderings of a Randland Fanatic

In a world overly saturated with media for our consumption, it can often be difficult to pick which new world or story to dive into next. As a lover of stories, and a storyteller myself, I’m honestly surprised that not one book series has managed to dethrone my all time favorite since I discovered it during my formative years. And now, over 30 years since its inception, a television adaptation is being produced; placing my “obscure” obsession directly into the public eye.

While I know not everyone will have the want or will to tackle such a COLOSSAL work of fiction (honestly, I had a college professor call the Lord of the Rings the 300 pound gorilla of Fantasy and I remember scoffing so hard, I was sure she would call me down for it), I do hope that I can talk at least a few of you into it. The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (finished by Brandon Sanderson) can be intimidating if you think about it too hard. There are 15 books in total, published over the course of 23 years, with a prequel book that was published mid-series. Given that all but that prequel have well over 500 pages each, I completely understand the intimidation factor, but I have some insider tips to make it more manageable, as well as a whole slew of justifications for why it’s worth your time!

First of all, you have options on how you want to approach the story. There’s the tried and true event Chronology - start with the prequel, then dive into the rest. This is both the shortest book, and the one which goes the most into detail about the magic system Jordan created for this universe. I will say, though, this way comes with a few spoilers. It will rob you of some of the suspense in the first book. Which leads us to my second recommendation: save the prologue for last. If you read the entirety of the main series first, the prequel will be like a literary digestif, allowing you to linger in the rich world created and perfected by both Jordan and Sanderson. And for you chaos goblins out there who don’t care about the proper chronological order of events, I’d say go purely by publication dates, ya heathens.

My own journey began with the prequel - a Christmas gift from my mother who has always supported my love of reading. I was somewhere in the Junior high years, and as such, was just beginning to form my own opinions on religion, politics, and the myriad of social issues I’d occasionally hear the grown-ups in my life argue over.

I cannot stress just how influential The Wheel of Time was on the formation of those belief systems. Jordan is a Master of the perspective shift; often writing the books from dozens of view points. He will have you following nobility for chapters and, with a single paragraph break, toss you into the mind of a soldier or a beggar on the street. The commentary that readers are afforded gives the illusion that we’ve been let in on all the secrets of the antagonists - only for you to learn in the next chapter that all our assumptions were wrong. Jordan does an excellent job of subverting expectations and forcing one to consider an alternative perspective. And as my father always told me, “your perspective is your reality. As such, there are as many realities as there are humans walking around this planet.” That mantra and this literary work of art were critical in the blooming of an open mind and a caring heart.

I could go on for ages about why this series is worth the time investment - how it’s available in audio books, and can now be watched instead of read (though that’s another article entirely), but I will leave you with this: Reading allows both the privilege of escaping reality as well as giving us the tools to imagine new paradigms for our own existence. So take the leap, and enjoy the ride, future Randlandians.

-Rachel Brashear is a hippie hillbilly two-spirit nonbinary native of the Arkansas River Valley for the past 30 years. She holds degrees in English and Creative Writing and descends from a long line of story-tellers. She lives with a plethora of fur babies and relishes in an almost magical ability to build community.



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