The Wheel of Time
“It is not enough to merely say that an author 'writes' a book. Rather, an author fells their pen upon paper, and just like wine splashing out of its tipped glass, the essence of their soul's inner-most machinations comes flowing out, and as these thoughts achieve unison with parchment for the first time, they consummate their creator's raw passion and imagination into a new physical manifestation.”
The Wheel of Time is an exhaustively descriptive series of fantasy books written mostly by American author James Oliver Rigney Jr., under the pen name Robert Jordan. Though Jordan began to write the book series in 1984, it seems that the 23 years that he had to write before his eventual death wasn't nearly enough time to complete the series. After all, Jordan made it a point in his writing to thoroughly describe every blade of fine Cairhienin grass and each lock of long hazel-colored hair on Egwene Al'Vere's head. After Jordan kicked the bucket in 2007, the series was quickly concluded by long-time fan and turbo-nerd Brandon Sanderson, much to the satisfaction of millions of extremely patient WoT fans. However, this was done not a page too soon. By the time that The Wheel of Time was finished, the series spanned a whopping 14 books and as a bonus for insomniacs, a prequel as well to give readers a full Rugby Union field team number. For those who want to embark on reading or listening to this epic you will plough through 4.4. million words in 704 chapters and 148 character Point of Views. A further 2,636 are name checked. For a comparison the Bible is a skinny 783,137 words long.
So just what was it that made Jordan's writing so appealing? Why would millions of people suffer through countless pages of mind-numbing description and hundreds of chapters, some of which were longer than entire books in themselves?? Is it that Jordan's fans were a bunch of masochistic gluttons for punishment??? Did Jordan and Sanderson brainwash people into reading this stuff? Or perhaps was there actually something of genuine substance hidden away in these mammoth tomes???? You could read the books to find out for yourself. Or, much like your average High School plagiarist, you can just use other people's work and read this article to find out instead!
Unless you live underneath of a rock in Africa, you're probably familiar with popular fantasy villains such as Sauron or Voldemort. Well, the prime villain in The Wheel of Time series is known as The Dark One, and he makes these two wusses look like they are high school freshmen on the JV football team. Rather than trying to kill a dozen English teenagers or even trying to conquer a few run-down cities, the Dark One intends to destroy the entire universe and bring about an end to time itself. Of course, it is never explained why the Dark One is being such a dick, though in the books he certainly sounds like one snarling like a bad actor in all of his 'scenes'. However, you can imagine that when you are an all-powerful and immortal being like him, you've go to entertain yourself somehow.
Of course, there is one person in the whole universe who can stop the forces of impending doom. This is the Dragon. Not a literal one with fiery bad breath and wings like Smaug but a man who will lead good, those who walk in The Light against those who prefer to do wicked things in The Dark. So who would this Dragon be? Why an unsuspecting, yet dashing, teenage boy who is marketable to young adults! Now you may be thinking that it is quite a stretch for a common teenager to try to go up against a being that is basically Satan incarnate. But then again, 15 books was probably more than enough time for him to even out the odds out a little bit.
This is the main character known as Rand Al'Thor. For his entire life, Rand and his two friends, Mat and Perrin, have lived a simple life in a remote village called Emmonds Field where people grow wool and farm marijuana. Most of the people in this village are entirely unaware of the strange outside world wherein most women are obsessed with not understanding men and "smoothing their skirts" and most men are obsessed with taking baths. One day, Rand starts seeing a creepy-looking horseman watching him afar. When he tells his father, the old man sees nothing and laughs away the boy's concern, telling him that he is just paranoid after smoking too much weed. The next day an Aes Sedai named Moiraine and her guardian Lan shows up to the village, secretly aware that servants of the Dark One are seeking a boy in the area who is the Dragon Reborn. Not soon afterward, a whole bunch of Trollocs show up and start eating the villagers for roughage. After blowing away all of the Trollocs with her OP spells, still not sure which of the three boys is the Dragon Reborn, Moiraine whisks all three of the teenagers away with her to far off lands where they repeatedly run away from Trollocs and take copious amounts of baths.
Eventually, during their travels, Rand begins to develop the ability to use the One Power. This is known as the Saidan if used by a man or Saidar by a woman. Saidan smells like unwashed socks and untreated sewage to start with until you lock in the main One Power grid. For women channellers a dose of saidar is like having multiple orgasms. Conveniently, Rand's powers kick into full gear when one of the "Forsaken" attacks them. After Rand uses his powers to plow the villain a new arsehole. It is then that most of the characters realize that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. After it becomes clear to everyone that Rand is the Dragon Reborn who is destined to save their sorry behinds from the Dark One, the surrounding kingdoms become very reluctant to rally behind him. In fact, it takes Rand all of 13 out of the 14 books for all of the humans to stop killing each other and start focusing on threats that actually matter.
Types of Characters
The Wheel of Time is filled with a mind boggling variety of characters, most of whom are annoying. Some turbo-nerd on The Wheel of Time wiki actually took the time to list them out and found out that there are over 2200 different characters! Ironically, most readers will have the darnest time remembering any of them by the end of the series. Just like distant relatives, there are so damn many of them, that you don't even bother to try remembering who they are or where they're from. This leads to similarly awkward moments when you wind up meeting them again later in the series.
Aes Sedai are the magic users of the series, wielding a force known as the "One Power". They wear colour-coded clothes to show their loyalty to a particular sisterhood or 'Ajah' . Each Ajah has a way of using magic and jealously guards their witchy secrets. There are officially seven Ajahs ranging from the drippy Brown Ajah, the All-American Gray Ajah, the social justice inclined Blue Ajah and the fiery tempered Red Ajah. The others are the Green, White and Yellow Ajahs. In addition there is a secret Skull and Bones Black Ajah. These work for the Evil Team but mask their true allegiance by officially belonging to the other Ajahs.
All of them are vain radical feminists know-it-alls who enjoy attempting to manipulate others and spreading man-hate. Like the Patriarchy-supporting sexist man that he is, Rand constantly makes it a point to do what they tell him not to do. Later in the series, males who also know how to use the One Power start to appear. This causes the feminist Aes Sedai to freak out when these sexist bigoted men start showing signs of equality. Fortunately, the Aes Sedai are not completely annoying. When needed, this group of thunder babes can also call down lighting or cause the ground to explode with their minds. In fact, they can smite those pesky trollocs like its no man's business. Because it isn't.
One other usefuk thing about the Aes Sedai. They look eternally youthful, faces smooth and wrinkle free. Botox rules there.
The Aiel (rhyme with AIEEEEE! as if they are falling down a hole) are a people that don't trust horses or swords. The Aiel like fighting with spears. Act a bit like Native Americans and the Bedouin combined. Have wise women and use tent saunas. Clothing is often optional for men and women. Very fierce. Prone to overacting.
Male magic weavers. Rand creates the order who live in the Black Tower and drink a lot of sweet German wine. The Aes Sedai are horrified that men can now channel like them. In particular the Red Ajah hate these boys and want to whip off their magic abilities. When Rand is elsewhere the Asha'man are lead by two former 'false dragons'. One of them turns out to be a real bad'un.
Officially women employed to serve in bars. There are hints they can supply other more 'physical entertainments' but the writer is prudishly quiet. Whores don't exist in this improbable world.
Makes the world and locks up the Dark Lord in a black pit. Invents the Wheel. That's it. Has no lines to speak.
Imprisoned by the Creator. Has friends in high (dark) places. Cruel and melodramatic, speaks with lips permanently snarled. His allies call him the Great Lord and hope to personally profit by supporting him. The Dark One wants to rule the world. Spends most of his time in a dark pit without lighting. Pen pals with Sauron.
Satan the Dark One. Like vampires or politicians, they blend into the normal population and do the Dark One's bidding in secret. They could be anybody. That creepy guy across the street might be a darkfriend. Or the town's mayor. Your girlfriend could even be one. Try explaining that to your parents.
These are men and women channellers who have chosen the black over the light. The Dreadlords wear their hair in dreadlocks and smoke a lot of strong waccy baccy. Confused with The Forsaken and the Darkfriends. They are stronger than Darkfriends but inferior to the Forsaken. However, they could be promoted or 'relegated' (killed) like football clubs.
The Forsaken are hardcore Darkfriends whom the Dragon sealed in with the Dark One. They call themselves 'The Chosen' as they were favoured for a particular perversity. This happened like a billion years ago. After being cramped up with him for so long, their feathers are pretty ruffled, so they take out their frustration on everyone and everything else that deserves it the least.
The Forsaken are not above fighting each other either and will often betray each other to gain an advantage. Rats in a sack are more sociable. At the start of the books, there are 13; by the end, none at all.
A bunch of fashion-confused pacifists, in The Wheel of Time they are called "Tinkers" i.e. Irish petty thieves. Also known as the 'People of the Tea Leaf'.
With copy-pasted personas that are identical in virtually every town in the series, Innkeepers are always chubby people with an affinity for cooking. Though they enjoy barking orders at their cooks and serving girls, innkeepers are among the friendliest people in the series.
The Myddraal (pronounced 'Rupert Murdroll') are apparently 'improved trollocs'. They wear black cloaks and have no eyes. Somehow they blindly lead the Trollocs into battle and usually lose. Myrddraal don't wash either but they mask their stench with a vigorous application of Eau de Cologne.
Consistent with every other fantasy series, all the rich nobles in The Wheel of Time have an obsession with politics that is only surpassed by their obsession with themselves. When Rand realizes how annoying they are, he starts having bushels of them hanged at a time until they all learn to stop being so annoying. Most of the male lords are murderers in fancy costumes. The women tend to be sex obsessed.
A tree-hugging race of giants with tufted ears and size 20 feet. Chew rocks and like reading books. Slow to anger or very much anything else but once stirred Ogiers can crush skulls like brazil nuts. They speak slo....wly like Shrek but without a Scottish accent. Apparently excellent builders with their work standing for thousands of years without need for repairs. Now prefer to live in tree groves and grow drugs. Also long lived. Can tell a story that goes on for years if you're not careful. Some have left the series and have opened up tax
dodging management services in Jersey.
Exotic mixed sex traders who live on ships and distrust all land lubbers. Officially known as the Atha'an Miere. They wear a lot of facial jewellery. The men don't wear shirts at any time. The women wear blouses only in port. They go topless when at sea which helps them to charge premium rates for passengers. Their ships are the quickest way to travel by sea or river if you don't have magic.
Irish-Chinese invaders from the East. Pronounced 'Shawnchan' so more hardcore troll than a 4chan message board. It's a slave based society that is also big on a cultural form of Communism. Described as dark skinned the Seanchan speak with a Texan drawl, crossed with Peter Lorre accent in The Maltese Falcon. The Seanchan follow an empress back home and wish her eternal life until she is murdered by a family member. The Seanchan send armies and fleets to conquer the rest. They wear lacquered armour like Japanese samurai.
Mostly farmers and villagers who live in peace and have no idea about what is going on in the world around them, much like Americans. In the first few chapters of the book, these simpletons lead you to think that stuff like trollocs and the Dark One are just stories out of children's tales. You realize how wrong they are when a mob of trollocs come into their town and start raping their houses and burning their women. After that happens, Shit Hits The Fan. The weather starts going haywire, bandits start popping up like daisies, and kingdoms start declaring war like its going out of style.
The Trollocs are essentially man-wolf hybrids. They work for the Dark One. Trollocs don't bathe or shave so live a bit like college students. They have their own language and can write the filthiest of jokes. Trollocs speak bollocks apparently so they never develop as characters to follow. Don't get close to them. Trollocs stink bad! Not to be confused with Trollops. Also seem to be 'male' only which one wonders what they do with their 'bitches'.
Grim-faced personal bodyguards for the Aes Sedai (except the Red Ones). Always on duty. No sneaking off for any side nookie. Job for men only but that is a convention rather than a law as is later revealed. The wardens wear multicoloured cloaks that can blend them into the background so that they can become virtually invisible until the step out and kill you.
The well camoflaged Whitecloaks (if you're fighting in snow) are a holier-than-thou religious order. They are bit like the Knights Templar but crueller. They call themselves the Children of the (Gas) Light which is accurate as they burst into tears everytime they come across the Aes Sedai and kill them for being witches. They have their own in-house torturers known as the Questioners. The Whitecloaks believe everyone is evil except themselves.
These are witchy women for the Aeil. Even crankier than the Aes Sedai.
Telepaths. Fear humans but hate the evil ones more, especially the Trollocs and the Darkhounds, evil dogs that bite everyone. Perrin Ayabara learns he can talk to the wolves via telepathy besides growling. He is still waiting for dancing lessons from his shaggy friends.
Was it necessary for Robert Jordan to drag out this story for a whole 15 books? Probably not, but with nothing better to do with your time, why the hell not? However, for those of you who are too lazy and illiterate to actually read the books for yourselves, the following summaries have been written to help you gain a basic understanding of what these giant bricks of paper are even about.
A prequel. So you can skip that for...
The Eye of the World
Rand al'Thor: Tam is my father. (Nothing happens. Then, nothing happens. Then, unexpectedly, nothing happens. Everything is FRAUGHT with PORTENT.)
Moiraine: Everybody come with me.
Everybody: No. Well, ok. (They travel a LOT. Something happens that isn't explained. Something happens that doesn't make sense. Something else happens.)
Rand al'Thor: Tam is my father.
THE (predictable, cliched,) END
The Great Hunt
Rand al'Thor: I want to do something. But doing this something is probably what the Aes Sedai want me to do, so I will do something else. But doing that something else may be what they want me to do, because they think I think they want me to do the first thing, so I'll decide to do this other thing instead. So I'll just do the first thing, since I want to do it anyway. Screw them. (Repeat seven hundred times.)
The Dragon Reborn
Rand al'Thor: Being the Dragon Reborn stinks. I'm out of here. (Moiraine and the gang CHASE him. But even though they are on HORSES, and he is WALKING, they never CATCH UP. This is supposed to be MYSTERIOUS but is really just a plot CONVENIENCE for Robert JORDAN.)
Perrin: I hate wolves. (Mat and others show up out of NOWHERE. This is supposed to be MYSTERIOUS but is really just a plot CONVENIENCE for Robert JORDAN.)
Rand al'Thor: I am the Dragon Reborn. (kills the EVIL SUPREME BAD GUY)
Robert Jordan: Fooled you! That wasn't really the EVIL SUPREME BAD GUY! Now I can write forty more books!
Mat: BURN HIM!
The Shadow Rising
(Everybody HATES Rand, so he BEATS them until they OBEY.)
Rand: I have conquered all sorts of stuff, because I rule. (Gibbers to self. Five hundred pages pass.)
The Fires of Heaven
Rand: I found an artifact which gives me limitless power. I think I shall brick it up behind a wall. (A female character SNIFFS and thinks about her NECKLINE.)
Lord of Chaos
Rand: I have a secret plan, but I won't tell you about it.
Mat: BLOOD and ASHES!
Lanfear: I want it all, I want it all!
A Crown of Swords
Rand: Now my secret plan shall be unleashed! Here it is. Are you ready? Are you sure you're ready? I'm going to make it look like I'm attacking this guy. But THEN I will attack some OTHER guy. (He DOES, and it ALMOST WORKS.)
The Path of Daggers
Mazrim Taim: I am evil, yaargh! Fear me!
Spooky Voice of Lews Therin: Rand, kill Taim.
Rand: Being powerful sucks. I will brood.
Perrin: I was going to rescue my wife, but that will have to wait for the next book.
Mat: I was going to escape with my friends, but that will have to wait for the next book.
Egwene: I was going to attack Tar Valon, but that will have to wait for the next book.
Crossroads of Twilight
(Rand BROODS and DREAMS about his THREE WOMEN.)
Minor Characters: There is a large use of the One Power over there. (repeat indefinitely)
Perrin: I was going to save my wife, but that will have to wait for the next book.
Egwene: I was going to attack Tar Valon, but I won't finish it until the next book.
Mat: I might flirt with Tuon in the next book.
Knife of Dreams
Faile: I'm so glad Perrin rescued me! It only took two whole books!
Egwene: Oh no! Now I've been kidnapped!
Robert Jordan: I'm starting to feel kinda weird. I sure hope its not cancer!
The Gathering Storm
Robert Jordan: Oh no! Cancer! (Dies)
Brandon Sanderson: Here I come to the rescue!
Fans: This book sure does seem different. Oh wait, ROBERT JORDAN IS DEAD? (Surprise intensifies)
The Towers of Midnight
Rand: Hey everybody! The Tarmon Gai'don is about to happen and you're all about to die.
Everybody: Oh shit!
A Memory of Light
Rand: Meet me on Shayol Ghul. The Last Battle It's going to be wild.
Everybody: Double Oh Shit. Who lives and who dies?
Brandon Sanderson: That pretty much sums up the series. Now stop bugging me or I'll tear your eyes out with a pointed stick. I'm off to help George R. R. Martin finish his epic.
The Main Main Main Character
At the beginning of the series, Rand seems like an underwhelming main character, as he is a completely worthless noobcake. He whines quite often, he constantly makes stupid decisions, he is terrible with girls, and he is a weakling without any cool powers. However, as the series progresses, he gradually wises up, girls line up for a chance to do the big nasty with him, and he becomes the most powerful force-user that the world has ever seen. This one-time underdog in no short terms transforms into the Chosen One of the Wheel of Time series. He is a constant reminder to us all that there is a potential for greatness in everyone, even if you happen to be well...you.
The Main Main Characters
Mat Cauthon wants out of the adventures to spend time whoring, playing dice and cursing. He seems the most well-adjusted character in the books.
Moraine and Lan
Moraine is a short legged member of the Green Ajah. She travels looking for the Dragon Reborn. Always with her bodyguard Lanyard hanging around her neck. The author wrote a prequel to the main story which gives you her back story. It's not that interesting. Moraine is apparently made of titanium as she battles for 'Randy'. Moraine disappears out of the main story for about one million words so that when she reappears you've forgotten who she was/is.
As for Lan he wanders around a lot and then marries the hair puller. Strange man.
Perrin is probably the most normal person in the entire series. He's not mad, he can't do any magicky stuff, he doesn't drink, gamble, randomly kill people for no reason, or even shout at the world from the top of a mountain. He does smoke a lot of mary jane though, and when he hits it hard, he starts to hear the voices of wolves in his head. He's also married to someone called Faile, a wayward daughter from a noble house who treats Perrin like a big teddy bear. Says it all really. Basically, Perrin's role in the entire series is really just to provide breaks in between the interesting parts and to balance out the excitement added by other characters. Without Perrin to bring you down from your WoT high, you might die of an overdose.
While over-emotional teenage girls are usually terrifying in their own right, Egwene is about five times as dangerous because she also has the ability to wield the One Power. Much like M. Night Shyamalan, she somehow managed to trip her way into a position of incredible power and influence, eventually becoming the supreme leader of the Aes Sedai. The reasons for her sudden rise to fame are far-fetched at best, and were probably written by Jordan on a night when he was getting black out drunk. Egwene is also a Dreamwalker, which means that she is able to see into people's dreams. This becomes incredibly awkward for her when she realizes that other dreamwalkers now know about her rape fantasies about Elayne's younger brother, Gawyn.
Nynaeve is an emotional firebrand who yanks her hair every time she gets angry, which is during every single chapter of the series. Nynaeve becomes an incredibly strong Aes Sedai and one of the best healers in the series. If anything, the stresses of being chased by trollocs and the forsaken causes her to become even more aggressive. Over time, her hair-pulling antics severely weaken her neck, causing it to eventually break during the final battle. Will anybody miss her? Probably somebody will.
Loial is an Ogier. Treated like a hairy two-legged pet. Boring. Doesn't wear a flea collar. Loial is very slow to move from hissy fit to full-on homicidal teddy bear. Can also bore the fur off a trolloc.
A spear maiden (basically an Amazonian warrior) from the Aiel. Originally assigned as Rand al'Thor's bodyguard she is upgraded to a 'Wise Woman' when it is discovered she can channel the source of power. First woman to sleep with Rand al'Thor after running around in the nude in a snow storm. Also makes her the holder of the Dragon Reborn's Sacred Cherry.
Blonde Swedish-named archer. Also known as Birgitte Trahelion. Moves from legend to a flesh and blood woman when cast out of her job in a shared dreamscape by one of the Forsaken. Becomes a female warder of Elayne Trakand. Drinks like a fish and has a potty mouth. Likes men with battle scars so they don't have to be pretty for her to bed them. Birgitte has died and has been Bjorn Again a number of times. This messes around with Birgitte's memory when it comes to working out where she is and what year/decade/century/millenia she is currently living in.
A girl who has short hair and enjoys wearing men's clothes. Min the Minx is basically a cross-dresser and a pantomime Principal boy. As off-putting as that may seem, she seems to be the kind of petite woman that Rand is (sometimes literally) into. Min also has the ability to read people's futures, except for the futures of anybody who actually has any significance to the story whatsoever. In reality, her ability is about as useful as a Dialup internet connection. Min is holder of the Sacred Nutmeg for being the second woman to sleep with ol' Randy breeches.
Like a non-cross-dressing version of Min, Elayne is another one of Rand's many love interests. Rand finds her attractive because she has lots of
money, power, curves, and "personality." She is passive, doesn't suffer from Pre Magical Tension like Egwene and Nynaeve. Elayne gets 'sloppy thirds' with Rand but partakes in an almighty shagging marathon that lasts two days.
Just like how every non-racist sitcom needs a token black man, Thom is the token wise old man that completes every generic fantasy series. He basically looks like Santa Claus, but he also knows how to throw knives, gamble, spy, and play the flute like a boss. Thom has also had a complicated relationship with many different commoners, nobles, and even queens. It seems that every woman in the world can't get enough of this mega-mustached mystery-man. Its possible that he is the father of half of the characters in the story.
Robert Jordan has a female bosom fixation. There is a lot of descriptions of female characters wearing low cut dresses and crossing or folding their arms underneath their breasts. No mention of males readjusting their codpieces. One other oddity is that practically all the female characters have nude scenes of some sort or another.
There are hardily any overt sex scenes. It takes until book six for Rand al'Thor to lose his boxer shorts in a passionate embrace with the warrior maiden Aviendha. Rand beds Elayne in book 9 in what sounds like an epic explosion of sex. However the author leaves the bedroom very early so that effectively all the raunchy stuff happens 'off page' and you only get the reactions from others about what is happening behind closed doors. So coy!!
The main male 'heroes' act like dolts with their shoe laces tied together. There is plenty of mutual frowning, sniffing, snorting and staring in the books and a lot magical mumbo jumbo thrown in. One wonders why the Aes Sedai don't just change all the men into croaking frogs.
Besides hetero couplings, lesbianism seems rife amongst the Aes Sedai. These are called 'pillow friends'. This can also include emplying the services of male warders, though no three way encounters are mentioned. Homosexuality is somewhat rarely alluded to. The writers missed the chance to have Rand, Mat and Perrin getting over matey with each other.
Like with the nude scenes, a lot of female characters are spanked. Some times with hands, on other occasions there are suggestions of thorough birchings. Once again this punishment seems reserved for women. Men just die.
The Wheel of Time land is large and takes weeks, months to travel around. At first there are no shortcuts to jump from one location to another. So, in the first books, readers are obliged to tramp from one place to another. This takes up at least one book of talking about shoe leather. Later, the writers come up with portals to help characters pop up at different places within one chapter. It all becomes confusing by the end. Beam me up, Randy.
In 2021, Amazon released their television adaptation. This expensive fantasy epic has so far chewed through one season to less than stellar reviews. Season 2 returned in 2023. Since the source material is so vast, the show has tried to quickly world-build. In essence: Magic is best left to the ladies. The show was up against Amazon's upcoming Lord of the Rings prequel prequel (we are going back before the Hobbits) and Netflix's The Witcher). That may create a fantasy overload by 2023, similar to the superhero movie overload of the 2010s. Fans of the books were non-plussed by this sexless PG television series.