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Interviews: For Wheel of Time Fans, The Last Battle Is At Hand





Jan 4th, 2013




Petra Mayer



  • 1

    Rachel Martin

    It's the moment fantasy fans have been waiting for. After more than 20 years and 13 doorstopper volumes, the last book in the bestselling Wheel of Time series comes out on Tuesday. It's an epic battle between good and evil—think Game of Thrones but more so—more characters, more magic, more everything. Petra Mayer is an editor with NPR Books. And she has read all 14 Wheel of Time books, and she has this appreciation.

  • 2

    Petra Mayer

    It's here, it's here, it's here. It's A Memory of Light. It's the last Wheel of Time book, and it's in my hot little hands. True to form, it's enormous: two and a half pounds, two and a quarter inches thick, and 909 pages—all of it to tell the story of a backcountry farm boy who finds out he's the Dragon Reborn, a hero out of prophecies, destined to defeat the Dark One, and probably die doing it. Here is how author Robert Jordan described the story, when he was asked to summarize it:

    Harriet McDougal

    Cultures clash, worlds change, cope.

    Petra Mayer

    You'll note that's not actually Robert Jordan. It's his widow and editor Harriet McDougal. Tragically, Jordan could not finish his epic work by himself. The series he originally planned as six books had stretched to book eleven when he died in 2007. McDougal picked fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to finish the last book, which—no surprise here—grew from one, to three volumes.

    Brandon Sanderson

    It was like getting hit with a freight train. There was, you know, all this continuity and all these characters, it was a massive undertaking.


  • 3

    Petra Mayer

    Oh yeah, the characters. There are 2,000 of them. And that's the thing about the Wheel of Time—the writing is workmanlike. But the world sucks you in and doesn't let you go. Those 2,000 characters are at play across ages and continents, each with their own distinct languages, customs, food, ethnic groups, military tactics—oh my god, you could pretty much just blow a couple of months figuring it all out. Brandon Sanderson says he actually had to rely on the Wheel of Time fan community to keep it all straight in his head. He also had the notes that Jordan dictated on his deathbed and the very last chapter. Again, Harriet McDougal:

    Harriet McDougal

    I picked him up at the airport and brought him back to my house, and said, well, I have some soup for your supper, and he said, what I'd really like is the end of the series.


  • 4

    Petra Mayer

    And the end is at hand. The last battle will be fought, well, next Tuesday. McDougal says her feelings are very mixed. As for me, I first started reading these books 15 years ago; I made the mistake of asking my grad school hall mate Marie if she had anything that would help me procrastinate. So, Marie Giorda of Austin, Texas, if you're out there somewhere, tell me what do I read next? Petra Mayer, NPR News.