The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time is a series of high fantasy novels written by American author James Oliver Rigney Jr., under his pen name of Robert Jordan. Originally planned as a six-book series, The Wheel of Time spanned fourteen volumes, in addition to a prequel novel and two companion books. Jordan began writing the first volume, The Eye of the World, in 1984, and it was published in January 1990.
Cover of the first book
See list of books in series
|Author||Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson|
|Cover artist||Darrell K. Sweet (Michael Whelan for A Memory of Light)|
|Publisher||Tor Books (US) and |
Orbit Books (UK)
|Published||January 15, 1990 – January 8, 2013|
Jordan died in 2007 while working on what was planned to be the twelfth and final volume in the series. He prepared extensive notes so another author could complete the book according to his wishes. Fellow fantasy author and long-time Wheel of Time fan Brandon Sanderson was brought in to complete the final book, but during the writing process, it was decided that the book would be far too large to be published in one volume and would instead be published as three volumes: The Gathering Storm (2009), Towers of Midnight (2010), and A Memory of Light (2013).
The series draws on numerous elements of both European and Asian mythology, most notably the cyclical nature of time found in Buddhism and Hinduism, the metaphysical concepts of balance and duality, and a respect for nature found in Taoism. Additionally, its creation story has similarities to Christianity's "Creator" (Light) and Shai'tan, "The Dark One" (Shaitan is an Arabic word that, in Islamic contexts, is used as a name for the Devil or the Satan). It was also partly inspired by Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace (1869).
The Wheel of Time is notable for its length, detailed imaginary world, well-developed magic system, and large cast of characters. The eighth through fourteenth books each reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list. After its completion, the series was nominated for a Hugo Award. According to Jordan's French publisher, as of 2017, the series has sold over 80 million copies worldwide, and it is one of the best selling epic fantasy series since The Lord of the Rings. Its popularity has spawned an eponymous video game, roleplaying game, and soundtrack album. On April 20, 2017, it was announced that Sony Pictures will adapt the series for television, and on October 2, 2018, Amazon ordered the series with Sony as a co-producer.
|The Wheel of Time location|
Map of the Westlands from the Wheel of Time
|First appearance||The Eye of the World|
|Last appearance||A Memory of Light|
|Created by||Robert Jordan|
The series is set in an unnamed world that, due to the cyclical nature of time as depicted in the series, is simultaneously the distant past and the distant future Earth.
The series depicts fictional, ancient mythology that references modern Earth history (with one notable example being the legend of two giants named Mosk and Merk, who were said to fight wars against each other using spears of fire that could reach around the world), while events in the series prefigure real Earth myths (with King Artur Paendrag Tanreall, better known as Artur Hawkwing, serving as an allusion to the myth of King Arthur Pendragon).
The series takes place about three thousand years after "The Breaking of the World", a global cataclysm that ended the "Age of Legends", a highly advanced era. Throughout most of the series, the world's technology and institutions are comparable to those of the Renaissance, but with greater equality for women; some cultures are matriarchal. Events later in the series prompt advances similar to the Industrial Revolution.
The main setting for the series is the western region or continent of a larger landmass, both unnamed; however, the western region has been called "The Westlands" in licensed media, and by author Robert Jordan in interviews. The Westlands contains multiple kingdoms and city-states and is bounded on the east by a mountain range. To the east is a desert, the Aiel Waste, inhabited by the Aiel warrior people, who live in small settlements and whose society is organized into clans and warrior societies. Further east is the large and predominantly insular nation of Shara, separated from the Waste by large mountain ranges and other impassable terrain. North of all three regions is the Great Blight, a hostile wilderness inhabited by evil beings. The Westlands are mostly temperate; it and the Aiel Waste are in the world's northern mid-latitudes. Shara extends slightly south of the equator. Across an ocean west of the Westlands is Seanchan, the name of a landmass and the empire that spans it. Seanchan is narrower from east to west than the other landmass, but extends most of the way between the ice caps from south to north. A large island in the northwest is separated from the Seanchan mainland by a channel. At the beginning of the series, Westlanders are unaware of Seanchan's existence. The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time depicts "The Land of Madmen", a small continent in the southern hemisphere, far to the south of the Westlands and the Aiel Waste; it is never mentioned in the main series.
The series takes place at the end of the "Third Age" time period; the Age of Legends was preceded by the "First Age", which is implied to be modern Earth or some subsequent time period. Several legendary figures from around the time of the First Age are mentioned throughout the series, such as Elsbet, the Queen of All (implied to be Queen Elizabeth II), and Matarese the Healer, Mother of the Wondrous Ind (implied to be Mother Teresa of Calcutta).
The Third Age in the Westlands was marked by two great upheavals. A thousand years after the Breaking, humanity was nearly overrun by creatures from the Blight in the "Trolloc Wars". A thousand years after that, High King Artur Hawkwing unified the region, but his death resulted in the "War of the Hundred Years" instead of an orderly dynastic succession. The division of the Westlands into nations changed completely after each of the two events. The Old Tongue, a fictional language from the series, is depicted as a now-dead language, spoken only by scholars and certain nobles, though it still plays a role in the plot of the books.
"The Pattern" is a manifestation of both the physical world and people's destinies, while "the Wheel" represents the passage of time. These concepts apply to a series of parallel worlds, as well. Some characters observe or visit such other worlds; some of these worlds reflect different courses of history, and some are so divergent from the main reality that they are uninhabited. Physics sometimes operates differently in these worlds. The Seanchan imported "exotic" creatures from other worlds, later breeding and training them. Tel'aran'rhiod is the "world of dreams", which connects to all of the other worlds. It can be visited in one's sleep, but events there are real; it is also possible to enter physically.
These are the flags of the various nations located within the world the series is set in.
These flags represent nations that went extinct before the main events of the series.
The prequel novel New Spring takes place during the Aiel War and depicts the discovery by certain Aes Sedai that the Dragon has been Reborn.
The series proper commences almost twenty years later in the Two Rivers, a near-forgotten district of the country of Andor. An Aes Sedai, Moiraine, and her Warder Lan, arrive in the village of Emond's Field, secretly aware that servants of the Dark One are searching for a young man living in the area. Moiraine is unable to determine which of three youths (Rand al'Thor, Matrim Cauthon, or Perrin Aybara) is the Dragon Reborn, and leads all three of them from the Two Rivers, along with their friend Egwene al'Vere. Nynaeve al'Meara, the village wise-woman, later joins them. Gleeman Thom Merrilin also travels with the group. The first novel depicts their flight from various agents of the Shadow and their attempts to reach the Aes Sedai city of Tar Valon. Thereafter the protagonists are frequently split into different groups and pursue different missions toward the cause of the Dragon Reborn, sometimes thousands of miles apart. As they struggle to unite the various kingdoms against the Dark One's forces, their task is complicated by rulers of the nations who refuse to lose their autonomy; by the zealots styling themselves 'the Children of the Light', who do not believe in the prophecies; and by the Seanchan, the descendants of a long-lost colony of Artur Hawkwing's empire. The Aes Sedai also become divided on how to deal with the Dragon Reborn.
As the story expands, new characters representing different factions are introduced.
Deriving its name from that of Armageddon in Christian eschatology, Tarmon Gai'don is the apocalyptic battle wherein the Dragon Reborn opposes Shai'tan, while their followers fight elsewhere. Events and portents that foreshadow the Last Battle take place in Knife of Dreams and The Gathering Storm. The Last Battle takes place in A Memory of Light, in the form of a 202-page single chapter.
While the Wheel of Time has a total of 2,782 distinct named characters, the books largely follow the same five Emond's Fielders as well as Elayne Trakand.
- Rand al'Thor: Ta'veren, and the main protagonist of the story. The Dragon Reborn, known as the Car'a'carn or He Who Comes with the Dawn to the Aiel, known as the Coramoor to the Atha'an Miere, and known as Shadowkiller to the wolves. Born on the slopes of Dragonmount during the Aiel War. The reincarnated soul of Lews Therin Telamon.
- Matrim Cauthon: Ta'veren, usually called "Mat". He becomes the Marshal General of the Band of the Red Hand, marries the Seanchan empress Fortuona, and becomes one of the greatest generals the world has ever seen.
- Perrin Aybara: Ta'veren, Perrin is a wolfbrother, and throughout the story becomes quite adept at manipulating Tel'aran'rhiod. Becomes the Lord of the Two Rivers/Steward of the Dragon in the Two Rivers.
- Egwene al'Vere: From Emond's Field herself, she was in training to become a Wisdom before venturing off with Moraine and Lan, where she discovered she could channel. She quickly rises through the ranks of the Aes Sedai, eventually becoming the Amyrlin Seat.
- Nynaeve al'Meara: At the start of the story, she is the Wisdom of Emond's Field. After tracking down the rest of the Emond's Fielders after their departure, she soon finds out she can also channel, eventually becoming an Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, and marries Lan Mandragoran, making her the Queen of Malkier. She is one of the most powerful female channelers alive.
- Elayne Trakand: When she first appears, she is the heir to the Lion Throne of Andor, as the only daughter of Queen Morgase Trakand. Later becomes Queen of Andor following her mother's (falsely) presumed death. She is also a powerful channeler, becoming an Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah.
In the series, many characters possess special powers. Within the fictional world, some of these abilities are widely known and understood, while others are undocumented; some are depicted as unique. Some characters take the reappearance of ancient abilities as a sign that the Last Battle is coming.
"Channeling" is equivalent to magic as depicted in other fantasy-genre works, but is never called "magic" in the series. Many characters are channelers, including series protagonists Rand al'Thor, Egwene al'Vere, Nynaeve al'Meara, Elayne Trakand, Moiraine Damodred, and Aviendha. Channelers can access a natural power source called the "One Power", while Shai'tan can grant access to a separate power, the "True Power". Very little is written in the series about the True Power, while the One Power is described extensively. The One Power consists of five elemental "Powers": earth, water, air, fire, and spirit. Channelers often have particular strength in at least one Power, more commonly earth and fire in men and water and air in women; strength in spirit is equally rare between the sexes. A channeler creates a "weave" to achieve a specific effect by placing individual "flows" of the five Powers in a specific geometric configuration. The One Power has two aspects: "saidin", used by men; and "saidar", used by women. They differ sufficiently that no woman can teach a man to channel (and vice versa), and they can be used in drastically incompatible ways, though they sometimes achieve functionally identical effects. The True Power similarly differs from both. Male channelers are usually stronger than women, but women have advantages at "linking" with other channelers to harness more power; an individual's strength is quantified by the amount of the One Power he or she can channel at once. Some men and women are born with the "spark" to channel; these individuals will spontaneously begin to channel around puberty, but without formal training three of every four will suffer a fatal illness caused by channeling. Those who survive are called "wilders", and often are unaware of the existence or nature of their powers. Channelers are constrained by any restriction they believe applies; wilders often possess a "block" that allows them to channel only under specific circumstances (such as experiencing a particular emotion). The majority of channelers lack the spark and will channel only if taught. Channelers can determine if a person of the same sex has the spark or is capable of learning to channel. A channeler with the spark who receives instruction is not at risk of death and is not normally considered a wilder. Channelers have a longer lifespan than non-channelers, in proportion to their strength; from early adulthood, channelers age more slowly than non-channelers, and the strongest channelers can live over 800 years. Shai'tan tainted saidin at the end of the Age of Legends, causing any male channeler to go insane (usually very destructively) and die; the Breaking was caused by the world's male channelers simultaneously going insane, while in the Third Age male channelers are neutralized in various ways as they come of age.
Channelers are treated in different ways by different cultures within the series. In the Westlands, channeling is viewed as synonymous with the Aes Sedai, an organization that survived from the Age of Legends and which views channeling as its proprietary domain; some Aes Sedai refer to channelers from other traditions as "wilders", even if they are not self-taught. Aes Sedai are respected in most Westland nations, and they rule the city-state of Tar Valon. Aes Sedai are divided into seven "ajahs" named after colors and dedicated to different purposes; Red Ajah members seek out men who can channel and "gentle" them (remove their ability to channel). Also in the Westlands are the Kin, consisting of women who studied in Tar Valon but left without becoming Aes Sedai due to lack of desire or ability to complete their training. The Aes Sedai are aware of the Kin, who are very discreet, but are unaware that the Kin actually outnumber them. Among the Sea Folk, a seafaring Westlands culture, female channelers are expected to become "Windfinders", ship's navigators; the profession is also open to non-channelers. Every generation, the Sea Folk send a few weak channelers to Tar Valon, successfully concealing the prevalence and strength of their channelers. Aiel channelers are expected to become Wise Ones, the culture's spiritual leaders, as are all Dreamwalkers; other worthy women may become Wise Ones without these special powers. Male Aiel channelers go into the Blight, expecting to die after killing some of Shai'tan's creatures; unbeknownst to the Aiel, Shai'tan actually captures and corrupts these men. Shara is secretly ruled by its female channelers, the Ayyad, through figurehead monarchs; the Ayyad keep their male offspring as breeding stock before killing them. The Seanchan believe channelers are subhuman and dangerous; they enslave female channelers with the spark, while those capable of acting as their handlers are, unbeknownst to themselves and other Seanchan, those who can learn to channel. Male channelers are executed.
Certain "objects of the One Power" exist. "Angreal" and "sa'angreal" increase the amount of the One Power a channeler can harness; sa'angreal may be orders of magnitude more powerful than angreal. "Ter'angreal" produce specific effects; some require channeling to function, while others operate continuously or via touch; some affect only channelers or affect them differently.
Robert Jordan uses the capitalized word "Talent" to refer to two distinct types of abilities sometimes possessed by channelers; the text also sometimes uses "Talent" to refer to abilities unrelated to the One Power and possessed by non-channelers.
One type of Talent is the aptitude for a particular weave or type of weave. Talents seen in the series include healing (Nynaeve al'Meara), manipulating weather (many Windfinders), creating "gateways" for instantaneous travel (Androl Genhald), and fabricating the indestructible substance "cuendillar" (Egwene al'Vere). Such a Talent may manifest as finer control over weaves, the ability to use a weave that would otherwise be beyond the channeler's strength, superior results when using a weave with all other factors equal, or some combination of these benefits. Some weaves, such as creating cuendillar, function only for a channeler with a corresponding Talent.
A Talent can also be some other ability possessed only by some channelers, but distinct from creating weaves of the One Power. Talents of this type include creating ter'angreal (Elayne Trakand), perceiving the purpose or function of a ter'angreal (Aviendha), analyzing an expended weave, "unweaving" a weave (Aviendha), predicting the weather (Nynaeve al'Meara), recognizing ta'veren on sight (Siuan Sanche and Logain Ablar), and "Foretelling" prophecy (Elaida do Avriny a'Roihan). The latter three Talents have no obvious connection to the One Power, but are described as occurring only in channelers.
Some abilities depicted in the Wheel of Time are not related to the One Power or the ability to channel.
"Dreaming" (an Aes Sedai term) is the ability to have prophetic dreams, which are usually symbolic rather than literal. "Dreamwalking" (an Aiel term) is a set of abilities involving dreaming, including the ability to visit Tel'aran'rhiod and the dreams of others at will, and aptitude for manipulating Tel'aran'rhiod. Egwene al'Vere is both a Dreamer and Dreamwalker, and the text never establishes whether or not these are two separate things. Dreamwalking is well known to the Aiel Wise ones, who use it for society-wide communication; Aiel Dreamwalkers include channelers Amys and Melaine and the non-channeler Bair, who become Egwene's teachers as the last Aes Sedai Dreamer died about five hundred years earlier. No man is explicitly identified as a Dreamwalker in the series, but many of the male and female Forsaken, Shai'tan's top lieutenants, appear in Tel'aran'rhiod, and the male Forsaken Ishamael projects himself into other characters' dreams.
"Ta'veren" are individuals who are focal points of the Pattern for a time. Rand al'Thor, Matrim Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara are all ta'veren during the events of the series. The Pattern causes events and the actions of others surrounding a ta'veren to conform to the ta'veren's destiny, usually resulting in occurrences that are possible but unlikely. Mat has exceptionally good luck at gambling and in battle, while Perrin easily earns the support of others. Rand's presence often affects a large area around himself, causing such anomalies as one entire village pairing off in marriage in one day, another village erupting into violence over every disagreement its residents ever had, and a city's newborns being free of birth defects during Rand's residency.
Rand al'Thor is also the "Dragon Reborn," a prophesied savior. Towards the end of the series, Rand is shown to have reality warping abilities related to the Dragon Reborn's connection to the Pattern; he kindles a pipe without channeling.
Perrin Aybara and Elyas Machera are "Wolfbrothers," individuals who can communicate telepathically with wolves, which are depicted as sapient. Wolfbrothers also have abilities similar to Dreaming and Dreamwalking, although they are not shown as capable of entering the dreams of others. The souls of wolves inhabit Tel'aran'rhiod, which they call the "wolf dream," and a Wolfbrother who loses his identity as a man may become a wolf there. Only male Wolfbrothers are depicted in the series.
Min Farshaw sees auras and images around people; she does not always understand these visions, but sometimes she instinctively understands them and is always correct in such cases. Min is the only person in the series depicted as having this ability. However, the superstitious Seanchan are apparently familiar with it and consider the images to be omens; when Empress Fortuona learns that Min possesses this ability, she identifies Min as a "Doomseer" and immediately makes her a top advisor.
Hurin is a "sniffer," one who can detect violence as an unpleasant odor. This ability is apparently accepted by his countrymen; it is considered an asset for his career in law enforcement, and Perrin pretends to be a sniffer to conceal that the true source of his insight is communication with wolves.
The Seanchan produce ter'angreal rings that, when touched with the wearer's blood, grant him or her the abilities of a "Bloodknife": increased strength and speed and the ability to blend into shadows, at the cost of dying within a matter of days or weeks.
The books describe several scenarios where Shai'tan gives powers to individuals. People whose souls are removed by Shai'tan become supernaturally inconspicuous "Gray Men," ideal assassins. Padan Fain serves Shai'tan and is given the ability to track Rand al'Thor. Padan Fain later merges with the ghost of the evil Mordeth, gaining the abilities to inculcate others with paranoia and to summon and control a deadly miasma. Shai'tan merges the bodies and souls of Isam Mandragoran and Luc Mantear into the individual known as Slayer, to whom Shai'tan grants powers involving Tel'aran'rhiod, including the ability to travel instantaneously between there and the physical world while awake and without the use of a gateway.
Books in the seriesEdit
|0||New Spring||6 January 2004||334pp (PB) / 334pp (HB)|
|12h 31m||Prequel set 20 years before the events of the first novel.|
|1||The Eye of the World||15 January 1990||782pp (PB) / 702pp (HB)|
|2||The Great Hunt||15 November 1990||681pp (PB) / 599pp (HB)|
|3||The Dragon Reborn||15 October 1991||675pp (PB) / 545pp (HB)|
|4||The Shadow Rising||15 September 1992||981pp (PB) / 891pp (HB)|
|5||The Fires of Heaven||15 October 1993||963pp (PB) / 684pp (HB)|
|6||Lord of Chaos||15 October 1994||987pp (PB) / 699pp (HB)|
|41h 37m||Locus Award nominee, 1995.|
|7||A Crown of Swords||15 May 1996||856pp (PB) / 635pp (HB)|
|8||The Path of Daggers||20 October 1998||672pp (PB) / 591pp (HB)|
|9||Winter's Heart||7 November 2000||766pp (PB) / 533pp (HB)|
|24h 18m||Prologue released as a promotional eBook in September 2000.|
|10||Crossroads of Twilight||7 January 2003||822pp (PB) / 681pp (HB)|
|26h 03m||Prologue released as a promotional eBook on July 17, 2002.|
|11||Knife of Dreams||11 October 2005||837pp (PB) / 761pp (HB)|
|32h 24m||Prologue released as a promotional eBook on July 22, 2005.|
|12||The Gathering Storm||27 October 2009||766pp (PB) / 766pp (HB)|
|33h 02m||Completed by Brandon Sanderson.|
|13||Towers of Midnight||2 November 2010||864pp (PB) / 843pp (HB)|
|38h 17m||Completed by Brandon Sanderson.|
|14||A Memory of Light||8 January 2013||912pp (PB) / 909pp (HB)|
|41h 55m||Completed by Brandon Sanderson, epilogue by Robert Jordan.|
|–||Totals||22 years, 11 months, 24 days||11,898pp (PB) / 10,173pp (HB)|
|19d 5h 25m|
In 2002 the first book, The Eye of the World, was repackaged as two volumes with new illustrations for younger readers: From the Two Rivers, including an extra chapter (Ravens) before the existing prologue, and To the Blight with an expanded glossary. In 2004 the same was done with The Great Hunt, with the two parts being The Hunt Begins and New Threads in the Pattern.
On several occasions, chapters from various books in the series were released several months in advance of publication. These were released in eBook format as promotional tools for the then-upcoming release.
The prologue eBook releases included:
- Snow: The Prologue to Winter's Heart (September 2000)
- Glimmers: The Prologue to Crossroads of Twilight (July 17, 2002)
- Embers Falling on Dry Grass: The Prologue to Knife of Dreams (July 22, 2005).
- What the Storm Means: The Prologue to The Gathering Storm (September 17, 2009).
- Chapter 1 of The Gathering Storm, Tears from Steel, was released free on Friday September 4, 2009 on Tor.com
- Chapter 2 of The Gathering Storm, The Nature of Pain, was released in Audio form free on Thursday September 24, 2009 on Tor.com
- Distinctions: The Prologue to Towers of Midnight (Tuesday September 21, 2010).
- Chapter 1 of Towers of Midnight, Apples First, was released free on Friday October 1, 2010 on Tor.com
- Chapter 2 of Towers of Midnight, Questions of Leadership was released in Audio form free on Tuesday October 19, 2010
- Chapter 8 of Towers of Midnight, The Seven-Striped Lass (on September 16, 2010, Chapter 8, The Seven-Striped Lass, was revealed as part of The Great Hunt scavenger hunt setup by Brandon on his website beginning August 30, 2010 in relation to his new book The Way of Kings.)
- By Grace And Banners Fallen: The Prologue to A Memory Of Light (Wednesday September 19, 2012).
- A segment of chapter 1 of A Memory Of Light was released in mid-2012 on Dragonmount.com
- A segment of chapter 11 of A Memory Of Light was similarly released publicly in mid-2012 on Dragonmount.com
Jordan wrote two short stories within the franchise in the late 1990s. The first, The Strike at Shayol Ghul, predates the main series by several thousand years. It was made available on the Internet and was later published in The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time. Jordan also wrote a short story entitled New Spring, for the 1998 Legends anthology edited by Robert Silverberg. Jordan later expanded this into the stand-alone novel New Spring that was published in January 2004.
During Brandon Sanderson's work on A Memory of Light, two sections of the book were cut and later published as short stories in anthologies. The first, River of Souls, was published in Unfettered: Tales by Masters of Fantasy (2013). The second, A Fire Within the Ways was published in Unfettered III in 2019. Unlike "River of Souls", "A Fire Within the Ways" is not considered canon.
Tor Books published a companion book to the series, entitled The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, in November 1997, which contains much hitherto unrevealed background information about the series including the first maps of the entire world and the Seanchan home continent. Jordan co-authored the book with Teresa Patterson. Jordan ruled the book broadly canonical but stated that it was written from the perspective of an historian within The Wheel of Time universe and was prone to errors of bias and guesswork.
On November 3, 2015, The Wheel of Time Companion: The People, Places, and History of the Bestselling Series was released in hardback format, written by Harriet McDougal, Alan Romanczuk, and Maria Simons from Tor Books. Alan Romanczuk and Maria Simons were Robert Jordan's editorial assistants. The book is an encapsulating glossary of the entire series. The authors began compiling material for the volume as early as 2005, and the final book was released after the series' conclusion.
Writing and conceptionEdit
In the early 1980s Robert Jordan wrote several Conan the Barbarian novels for Tor Books, including a novelization of the movie Conan the Destroyer. These proved successful and in 1984 he proposed an idea for an epic fantasy series of three books to Tom Doherty, the head of Tor Books. Doherty approved the idea; however, knowing that Jordan had a tendency to go long, Doherty put Jordan on contract for six books just in case. Jordan began writing the novel that became The Eye of the World.
The novel proved extremely difficult to write and characters and storylines changed considerably during the writing process. The series was originally centered on an older man who discovered relatively late in life that he was the 'chosen one' who had to save the world. However, Jordan deliberately decided to move closer to the tone and style of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring and made the characters younger and less experienced. Once this decision had been made, writing proceeded much more easily and Jordan completed the second volume, The Great Hunt, at roughly the same time the first book was published.
Tom Doherty enjoyed The Eye of the World so much that he declared it would be the biggest fantasy series since Tolkien, and took the unprecedented steps of sending free review copies to every bookstore in the United States to generate interest. The combined hardcover and trade paperback run of the novel sold out of its initial 40,000-strong print run. Sales then doubled with the publication of the second novel just eight months later generating more interest in the first book.
Jordan wrote full-time at breakneck speed for the next several years until he completed the seventh volume, A Crown of Swords, at which point he slowed down, delivering a book every two years. Fans objected when he took some time off to expand a short story into a prequel novel called New Spring, so he decided to shelve his plans for additional prequels in favor of finishing off the last two volumes in the series. He rejected criticisms of the later volumes of the series slowing down in pace in order to concentrate on minor secondary characters at the expense of the main characters from the opening volumes, but acknowledged that his structure for the tenth volume, Crossroads of Twilight (where he showed a major scene from the prior book, Winter's Heart, from the perspective of the main characters that were not involved in the scene), had not worked out as he had planned. Knife of Dreams, the eleventh volume, had a much more positive reception from critics and fans alike and Jordan announced the twelfth volume, which he had previously announced would have the working title A Memory of Light, would conclude the series. According to Forbes, Jordan had intended for it to be the final book "even if it reaches 2,000 pages."
Jordan's death, and completion by SandersonEdit
Jordan was diagnosed with the terminal heart disease primary amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy in December 2005, and while he intended to finish at least A Memory of Light even if the "worse comes to worst," he made preparations in case he was not able to complete the book: "I'm getting out notes, so if the worst actually happens, someone could finish A Memory of Light and have it end the way I want it to end."
With Jordan's death on September 16, 2007, the conclusion of the series was in question. On December 7 of that year the publisher Tor Books announced that fantasy author Brandon Sanderson was to finish A Memory of Light. Sanderson, a longtime fan of the series, was chosen by Jordan's widow Harriet McDougal partly because she liked Sanderson's novels and partly because of a eulogy he had written for Jordan.
On March 30, 2009, Tor Books announced that A Memory of Light would be split into three volumes, with Brandon Sanderson citing timing and continuity reasons. By his estimate in early 2009, the book would have taken several years to write and would have reached 800,000 words. McDougal doubted that Jordan could have concluded it in a single volume. The three volumes were published from 2009 to 2013, as The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light, with the last book using Jordan's title.
After A Memory of LightEdit
Prior to his death, Jordan had often discussed adding an additional two prequels and an 'outrigger' sequel trilogy. In a Q&A following the release of A Memory of Light, Sanderson ruled out the completion of these works; Jordan had left very little in the way of notes for these additional novels – only two sentences in the case of the sequel trilogy.
Sanderson went on to release two cut portions of A Memory of Light as short stories. These were released in Unfettered anthologies, part of a charitable endeavour to support authors and artists with medical debt. River of Souls, a canonical segment removed from the published book due to pacing, was released in the first volume in 2013. A Fire in the Ways, a non-canon alternate sequence of events around the climax of the final book, was included in the third volume in 2019. A glossary to the series, The Wheel of Time Companion was released in 2015.
In 2004, Jordan sold the film, television, video game, and comic rights to the series to production company Red Eagle Entertainment. Dabel Brothers began adapting the series in comic book form, starting with the prequel New Spring in July 2005. The series initially ran on a monthly schedule, but then went on a three-year hiatus after the fifth issue. Red Eagle cited delays and changes to the creative team on the DB Pro end. The final three issues were ultimately completed and published in 2009–10. In 2009 Dabel moved on to their adaptation of the first book of the series proper, The Eye of the World. On March 17, 2009, they showcased ten pages of art from the prelude to the series "The Wheel of Time: Eye of the World #0 – Dragonmount" on their website. Dynamite Entertainment published 35 issues of The Wheel of Time: Eye of the World comic book series, which concluded in March 2013.
When asked in a 2013 interview about whether the comics would continue their run, Harriet McDougal replied "Well, eventually, [we'll] do the whole thing, unless it stops selling in a dreadful way. In other words, I don't really know." The 43 New Spring and Eye of the World comics were later collected together and released as a series of six graphic novels, the last of which was released in February 2015.
Various game adaptations have been created.
There is a Wheel of Time MUD, identified as such or by the initialism WoTMUD, which based on a world like that of the Wheel of Time but set in a time frame around 30 world years prior. It has been in operation almost continuously (there was a significant outage during 2013–14) since 1993. Notably, the WoTMUD had gained written permission from the author to use his creation including all but major characters.
A Wheel of Time computer game was released in 1999. Over the course of the game, a lone Aes Sedai must track down a robber following an assault on the White Tower, and prevent the Dark One from being released prematurely. She eventually learns of and executes a long-forgotten ritual at Shayol Ghul to ensure the Dark Lord remains sealed within the prison. While Robert Jordan was consulted in the creation of the game, he did not write the storyline himself and the game is not considered canon.
The Wheel of Time Roleplaying Game was released in 2001 from Wizards of the Coast using the d20 rules developed for the third edition of the Dungeons and Dragons game. The game had a single adventure module published in 2002, Prophecies of the Dragon. Shortly after the release of the adventure book Wizards of the Coast announced they would not be releasing any further products for the game. Robert Jordan cited some problems with the roleplaying game, such as storyline details in the adventure module that contradicted the books.
In early 2009 EA Games announced that they had bought the rights for a MMORPG, with the plan to publish it through the EA Partners-Program. The following year Obsidian Entertainment announced that they would be working on the project, for a PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC release. However, the project was seemingly dropped around 2014.
The German power metal band Blind Guardian have written two songs dedicated to the Wheel of Time series as part of their 2010 album At the Edge of Time: "Ride into Obsession" and "Wheel of Time". Swedish heavy metal band Katana also wrote a song, entitled "The Wisdom of Emond's Field", on their 2012 album Storms of War. The American power metal band Noble Beast, on their 2014 album of the same name, wrote a song entitled "The Dragon Reborn", in reference to Rand al'Thor. The American black metal band Shaidar Logoth takes its name from an adaptation of the city of Shadar Logoth, and lyrically expands on the character Padan Fain. The Austrian metal band Dragony, on their 2018 album "Masters of the Multiverse", released the song "Flame of Tar Valon", referencing the Amyrlin Seat. The Swedish metal band Freternia, on their 2019 album "The Gathering", released the song "Reborn", referencing the Dragon Reborn, Rand al'Thor. The American band Lyra wrote the song "The Sword That Could Not Be Broken", about the history of Manteheren, as well as the song "Betrayer of Hope", in reference to Ishamael. The Dread Crew of Oddwood produced the song "The Gleeman", which refers to Thom's battle with a Myrddraal in Whitebridge.
In the tradition of the literature-inspired symphonic poem, American composer Seth Stewart produced a full-scale orchestral work entitled "Age of Legends", inspired by the eponymous era of myth and magic described throughout the Wheel of Time series. The orchestral piece was premiered and recorded in 2011 at the Beall Concert Hall.
Television and filmEdit
In a 2000 chat on CNN.com, Robert Jordan mentioned that NBC had purchased an option to do a miniseries of The Eye of the World. But he expressed doubts that the series would be made stating "key people involved in getting that contract together have left NBC." The series was optioned by Universal Pictures in 2008 for film adaptations, with plans to adapt The Eye of the World as the first film. Neither project ultimately emerged.
In February 2015, Red Eagle Entertainment paid air time to cable network FXX to air Winter Dragon, a low-budget 22-minute pilot for a potential The Wheel of Time series that allowed Red Eagle to hold on to the rights to the series. The pilot, based on the prologue to The Eye of the World, starred Max Ryan as Lews Therin Thelamon and Billy Zane as Ishamael and aired with no announcements or publicity. Harriet McDougal initially stated she was unaware of the show ahead of time, and that the film rights to The Wheel of Time were set to revert to the Bandersnatch Group, her company, a few days later on February 11, 2015. Her comments triggered a lawsuit with Red Eagle, which was ultimately dismissed during settlement talks that July. In an interview with io9, Red Eagle Entertainment's CEO Rick Selvage stated "it was more of an [issue of] getting it on the air." A spokesman for FXX stated that the channel was paid to air the show, but Selvage hinted that it was indeed produced with a future series in mind. "We think there's huge demand for the television series internationally, and we're looking forward to producing it and getting it out in the marketplace."
On April 29, 2016, Harriet McDougal confirmed that the legal issues had been resolved and that a TV series was in development. Further details emerged on April 20, 2017, when it was announced that Sony Pictures Television would be handling the adaptation, with Rafe Judkins as writer and executive producer. In February 2018, Amazon Studios revealed that it had struck a deal with Sony Pictures Television to co-develop the series for distribution on Amazon's video streaming service. The series was formally greenlit in October 2018. Production began in the autumn of 2019, but has been hindered in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many fans of The Wheel of Time attend Dragon Con, which had an exclusive Wheel of Time content track from 2001 through 2012. The Wheel of Time now has its own annual convention, JordanCon, which has been held annually in Atlanta, Georgia, since 2009.
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