Having been determined to read the whole of the Wheel of Time series, mainly out of sheer bloody-mindedness, I think I’ve been defeated. The tugging of braids and smoothing of dresses I can ignore, the seemingly unending journeys can be endured, but I’ve realised that I simply can’t remember how far I’ve got in the series! I know, it’s a dumb reason to not finish something, but I think it’s the final straw – having looked at the blurbs I still can’t tell the difference between books 10 and 11 because basically the blurbs have said the same thing for a while now and I simply don’t know whether I’ve read book 10 or not. Book 11’s been out for two years now and I’m pretty sure it’s been longer than that since I read one, book 9’s title rings a bell but with very little incidents to characterise each novel, it’s really hard to tell.
Which leads me, inevitably, to think about The Twilight Reign, since it’s pretty much for the same market. I don’t yet have the problem of how to finish the series in a way that ensures we’ve got a good novel (beyond knowing what happens in the last few chapters), but I have had to think quite hard about what characterises each of the books. I don’t mean building in a specific theme or message here, but very simply a one-sentence way of describing each book so a reader remembers which one is which. Looking at my initial plan for the books, written a good five years ago, and I realise the books lacked that. The divisions were more arbitrary whereas now each one is building up to a specific event and I think that’s the problem with Jordan’s writing.
I was happy to read the rest because I was so familiar with the style it was no effort to read, but I simply can’t really pick out events or scenes that stood out in any of the books – or at least assign scenes to a certain book. That’s partly because there are so many books and it’s been a while since I read the first, but the major flaw of his later handful were simply that they weren’t focused on anything in particular. Stuff happened, battles were fought, but there was no obvious highlight to the author, it was simply the plot continuing. Now while I don’t claim to be the greatest of writers and like to salt my books with info that may or may not be pertinent to the series plot, I do think I’ve managed to create a sense that events are building towards something at the end of the book. Without that I think fantasy books become easily-forgotten. Unfortunately, when trying to think of examples where this is the case, my point is perhaps proved… I can’t recall the names of any books where I’ve felt this happen!
Ok, dig deep in that fractured memory Tom. I think there was the start of a series maybe by Sean Williams but the name is lost to me, The Tyranny of the Night I only remember because the main character reminds me so much of Amber from my books, the Dark Glory War was an epic fantasy that I don’t really remember at all, albeit one I read many years ago… that’s all I’ve got. Can anyone remember a fantasy novel that they didn’t find very memorable?!