A truly epic 15-book fantasy series that will capture your imagination – if you have the patience for it. A reluctant hero from a backwater village accepts his role as the reincarnated messiah, destined to fight the Dark One. As their final battle approaches, the fate of the world lies in the hands of the lanky red-haired sheepherder. Jordan borrows some of the best from Tolkien, creating his own rich imaginary world, wide array of male and female characters – many of whom you get to know very well, and detailed Eastern-influenced magical system.
The One Power is a magical source of energy from which some people have the ability to channel – or do magic. Long ago in the Age of Legends, the Dark One tainted the male half of the One Power, and male channelers of the modern age go mad and die. An exclusive school of Aes Sedai (i.e. witches), comprised only of women, teaches channeling to those who have the power, and consider themselves guardians of civilized magic. When our hero discovers his own channeling abilities, he must elude the faction of Aes Sedai whose entire purpose is to eliminate male channelers, while also staving off his own insanity so that he can train for the final battle.
The large cast of characters and rich world-building is both the hallmark and downfall of this series. Jordan has been widely criticized for his continuously slowing pace in order to concentrate on minor secondary characters and explore the world he imagines. I hit my personal wall at books 9&10, during which I required a hiatus of more than a year in order to minimize my frustration at the glacial pacing before I could continue.
Jordan passed away before finishing the series, and the final three volumes were completed by Sanderson, who does an incredible job capturing the excitement, adventure, magic and imagination of the best of the series. I would recommend this series to all fans of modern high fantasy. My advice – take it slow, be prepared to take breaks and allow yourself a couple years to read the entire series. Revel in the world-building, and look forward to a satisfying end.
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.