The Ending of the Wheel of Time

Of course, as any fan of the series knows, this blog post’s title is an oxymoron: there are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time.  But the Wheel of Time series of books has reached an end.  And LDS author Brandon Sanderson is the one who was chosen to bring the series to a close after the death of its creator, Robert Jordan.

I was first introduced to the series by my brother Michael, back when there were only around four books in the series.  For a while, I re-read all the previous books whenever a new one came out, but as the series grew to ten volumes, I found that too time-consuming.  (Michael still does it, and I salute his dedication.)  My interest in the series flagged a bit, and I decided I would wait until it was finished before bothering to pick it up again.  But then Jordan died, and since I had become a fan of Brandon’s work in the meantime, I read the new books as they came out.

I think that overall, Brandon did a fantastic job with Jordan’s characters and world.  I can’t think of anyone who could have done better.  (I have a few plotting quibbles, but I had those with Jordan, too, and I don’t know to what extent the quibbles I have are because he followed Jordan’s vision.)  And I found the final volume to be a satisfying ending to the series.

WARNING: Some minor spoilers for the final book can be found below.

One aspect of the fight between Rand and the Dark One particularly struck me as having resonance with LDS doctrine.  (Just to be clear, I am in no way accusing Brandon of “Mormonizing” the Wheel of Time.  Since the idea is not unique to Mormonism, it’s quite possible Jordan had it in his original outline.  And I felt the idea fit very well within the novel. I merely couldn’t help reading it through a Mormon lens.)

Rand goes to his battle against the Dark One with the goal of destroying it completely, rather than just re-sealing its prison.  He wants to rid the world of the Dark One’s influence forever.  In the course of the battle, the Dark One and Rand compete in weaving simulations of what the future might hold.  Rand weaves one in which he succeeded in destroying the Dark One — and finds that the people he knows and loves turn out to be vapid, shallow imitations of their real selves.

Of course, that brought to mind 2 Nephi 2:11:

For it must needs be, that there is an opposition in all things. If not so, my first-born in the wilderness, righteousness could not be brought to pass, neither wickedness, neither holiness nor misery, neither good nor bad. Wherefore, all things must needs be a compound in one; wherefore, if it should be one body it must needs remain as dead, having no life neither death, nor corruption nor incorruption, happiness nor misery, neither sense nor insensibility.

Rand eventually realizes that his goal of destroying the Dark One completely would bring about a world in which no one is “good” because there is no possibility of someone choosing anything else, and therefore he must change his goal.

 

About Eric James Stone

A Nebula Award winner, Hugo Award nominee, and winner in the Writers of the Future Contest, Eric James Stone has had stories published in Year’s Best SF 15, Analog, Nature, and Kevin J. Anderson’s Blood Lite anthologies of humorous horror, among other venues. One of Eric’s earliest memories is of seeing an Apollo moon-shot launch on television. That might explain his fascination with space travel. His father’s collection of old science fiction ensured that Eric grew up on a full diet of Asimov, Heinlein and Clarke. While getting his political science degree at Brigham Young University, Eric took creative writing classes. He wrote several short stories, and even submitted one for publication, but after it was rejected he gave up on creative writing for a decade. During those years Eric graduated from Baylor Law School, worked on a congressional campaign, and took a job in Washington, DC, with one of those special interest groups politicians always complain that other politicians are influenced by. He quit the political scene in 1999 to work as a web developer in Utah. In 2002 he started writing fiction again, and in 2003 he attended Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp. In 2007 Eric got laid off from his day job just in time to go to the Odyssey Writing Workshop. He has since found a new web development job. In 2009 Eric became an assistant editor for Intergalactic Medicine Show. Eric lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah.
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9 Responses to The Ending of the Wheel of Time

  1. Mark Penny says:

    That gives me an idea for a story.

    I’m starting to think I should read this series.

    How does Sanderson’s writing in The Wheel of Time compare to his writing in Warbreaker?

    • Mark Penny says:

      I ask because Warbreaker contains a lot of what looks to me like exposition by explanation, especially in the setup. The BioChromatic magic is definitely cool and certainly requires an introduction, but I kept wishing he’d used exposition through action instead. In fact, I felt he could have cut out most or all of the explanation and the workings of the system would have been perfectly clear, because Vasher’s actions demonstrate the system perfectly well. As a reader, I feel like Sanderson is playing the talkative tour guide and robbing me of some of my fun. He is rightly proud of his invention (and concerned that understand it), but he ought to have more confidence in the reader’s ability to case the joint.

  2. Ivan Wolfe says:

    I’m not sure what Eric would say, but I found Warbreaker to be Brandon’s most “Jordan-esque” book. Overall, Brandon is clearly influenced by Jordan (and Tolkein and plenty of other authors), but his style, I think, is generally quite different. However, when I read Warbreaker, I was a little stunned at how much it read like a Brandon/Jordan hybrid. My guess is that his work on WoT bled over somewhat.

  3. Wm says:

    That’s interesting, Ivan. I have never read Robert Jordan’s work, but Warbreaker does feel like a different style of book from the Mistborn books, The Way of Kings and Elantris.

  4. Ivan’s analysis sounds reasonable to me.

    I’m afraid analyzing and comparing styles isn’t really my forte. For the most part, I tend not to notice style per se unless it interferes with my enjoyment of reading.

    • Ivan Wolfe says:

      I was using “style” to encompass more than diction (although that was there as well – in Warbreaker, Jordan’s diction seemed to merge with Brandon’s a little). I was also including things like treatment of exposition and even idiosyncratic ticks (like mentioning cleavage a lot).

  5. It was interesting to me that the ending was so completely Jordan’s, because it felt so completely Mormon.

    Of course, the series is about Rand’s maturation and ability to deal with the trauma of war (more reflected, I think, in Jordan’s writing as a Vietnam vet). So I think it would be very tempting for anyone, like Jordan, who saw a great amount of suffering, to find a way to remove suffering from the world.

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