Robert Jordan and Teresa Patterson,
The World of Robert Jordan's
The Wheel of Time

(Tor, 1997)

I doubt there's another author alive who deserves comparisons to J.R.R. Tolkein the way Robert Jordan does. Jordan's The Wheel of Time series (eight books thus far) is a world of ancient prophecies, amazing power, real characters searching for their destinies, intricate lands and citizens, and an epic struggle between dark and light. The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time gathers all the histories of the lands and peoples in the series and offers insight into the history and background of the series.

The book begins with a preface that declares the "realness" and historical accuracy of the manuscripts from which this book was culled. The preface helps readers to get inside the world of the Wheel of Time; just as Tolkein created his own languages and historical documents for Middle Earth, Jordan unveils a vast background of prophecy and events that set his series into motion.

Starting with the Age of Legends and moving on to the Breaking of the World, Jordan and Patterson trace the chronological events that lead up to the beginning of the first book in the series. From there, they detail each society, discussing customs, politics, topographical information, and key characters from each of the lands. Old myths are shared, as well as facts and myths about important objects and places encountered in each of the books.

The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time is written in a historic, yet easy-to-read manner; the descriptions are vivid, and the writing contains humor and life. The book also features maps by Thomas Canty, drawn in amazingly intricate detail, and portraits by Todd Cameron Hamilton, which aren't so amazing. Hamilton's paintings look like someone described the characters to him, but just didn't give him enough detail to flesh them out; some of them don't even look human. "Some Narrative Paintings of Questionable Authenticity" comprises the middle section of the book; these are double-page spreads of the covers from the seven books (the eighth was published since this book came out).

Web sites and discussion groups abound for conversations and questions about the Wheel of Time, especially the oft-argued prophecies and, of course, the big question: "How will it all end?" For those of you who've been drawn into the world of the Wheel of Time, this book may reveal some clues about events in later books. However, they aren't obvious, so don't worry about spoiling the ending. Even if you aren't a huge Robert Jordan fan, you should check this book out simply for the intricate, complex world that Jordan has created.

[ by Audrey M. Clark ]

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