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March 20, 2008

Francesca recommends books

Filed under: Books — Francesca @ 9:05 am

OK, Francesca is very, very excited about this one!

You see, for many years Francesca has been following a super-fantastic fantasy epic called The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. This is by far the longest series she has ever read, but to give you an idea of how popular it is, and how many fans stuck through with it even when it started to feel like it was getting a leetle too long, when Francesca went into Barnes and Noble to buy Book 10, the clerk asked “What is this book? It’s been going like hot-cakes.” Yes indeed! Books 8-11 reached #1 on the NY Times bestseller list! Because the world which Jordan has created is incredibly rich, with characters drawn so well that Francesca is sure she would recognize any one of them if they passed her on the street. There are multiple continents, multiple countries with multiple cultures, a good 1800 characters, and while of course there is the one heroic “good guy” and his friends, and a horrible “bad guy” and his cronies, there are also other groups of people who fall on the spectrum of “good,” “bad,” or “both,” depending on their agenda.

Anyhow, the tragedy of this series is that Jordan died before completing the final book. It was a horrible, horrible day for the fans.

But Francesca just found out — a bit belatedly — that before he passed on, Jordan left copious notes about what was to happen in the final installment, including chapter outlines, a near-complete draft of the final chapter, and voice recordings adding details to help tie up loose ends. His wife-editor has just hired an established writer to complete the last installment on Jordan’s behalf. And so, someday not-soon-enough, the Wheel of Time will finally turn for the last time. And now Francesca feels safe recommending the series, because you can “get into it” secure in the knowledge that the epic climax will, indeed, be provided.

Book One:  The Eye of the WorldBook Two:  The Great Hunt
Book Three: The Dragon RebornBook Four:  The Shadow Rising
Book Five: The Fires of Heaven Book Six:  Lord of Chaos
Book Seven:  A Crown of Swords Book Eight:  The Path of Daggers
Book Nine:  Winter’s Heart Book Ten:  Crossroads of Twilight
Book Eleven:  Knife of Dreams

Book Twelve will be the final installment.

As you can see, the reading of this series is a big project to undertake. And a wonderful one!

Francesca loves the fantasy epics!

And now, a question for those of you who are already fans: What Ajah would you join? Francesca is thinking Green because they are the best-dressed and the coolest. But Gray also holds its attractions. What about you?


  1. It’s hard to say. The White has truth and logic, the blue is attractive for its own reasons, the brown is for knowledge, pretty much any of them but the red or the black for me.

    But, Green would be my favorite since they get as many Warders as they want.

    Comment by Christina — March 20, 2008 @ 11:58 am

  2. I have learned the hard way that when reading SF or Fantasy it is best to wait for the completion of long series. I am so excited that this one is nearly done so that I can get a start on reading it. I have heard a lot of good things about it.

    Comment by Awesome Mom — March 20, 2008 @ 11:59 am

  3. My comment got eaten, so I apologize if it shows up twice.

    Oh, Francesca. Can I be you when I grow up?

    I’m so glad Francesca recommended these books! I, too, love them, and am looking forward to starting the series over again once Book 12 comes out.

    To answer her question, though: Green! Green, green green green!

    The Green fits my hot-headed, combative personality (and my militant feminism), and my love for strapping men who do my bidding.

    Although I’m mildly attracted to the Blue and the Brown as well, I don’t think I’m subtle and strategic enough for the Blue (I suck at chess, and I imagine a Blue would be very good at it), and I’m a little too worldly for the Brown, so Green it is. I’m just studious and political in addition to being militant. :o)

    Comment by JadedKitten — March 20, 2008 @ 12:20 pm

  4. Gah! Both my comments got eaten. will check back later to see if they show up. :)

    Comment by JadedKitten — March 20, 2008 @ 12:23 pm

  5. i’ve been following this series from the beginning and i was *very* upset to find out RJ had died… i cannot imagine, even with copious notes and outlines, that this labyrinth of a tale can be finished up in one book! at least, not very satisfactorily. i’d probably go for the Blue Ajah… their power is very appealing.

    Comment by bonnie-ann black — March 20, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  6. I have added the first in the series to my Amazon shopping cart. I just finished one of Francesca’s previous recommendations, “The Eyre Affair” and enjoyed it tremendously. I trust her judgement and good taste implicitly.

    Comment by gemdiva — March 20, 2008 @ 1:15 pm

  7. OMFG! I am SO happy about this! I started reading this series when I was in high school! I will probably have to re-read the books so I can remember what happened…But I had the biggest fantasy crush on Perrin.

    Ajah…well, as far as fashion they all seem well-dressed. I like being able to bond Warders…I have a deep loathing for the Reds. Green or Blue, for me!

    Although, I think I always wanted to be one of the Aiel.

    Comment by kristin — March 20, 2008 @ 1:53 pm

  8. Fantasy fiction is like getting all done up for a renfaire. I don’t do it, don’t enjoy it and cannot comprehend how others find this amusing.

    Different strokes for different folks I guess…

    Comment by Noe — March 20, 2008 @ 3:30 pm

  9. I devoured the first few books and then stopped reading when I was working on my dissertation. So I am looking forward to picking up the series again someday. I’d be part of the White or the Brown.

    I’m normally NOT a reader of fantasy at all–I’m a snootball about fiction and so I only read the very best prose I can get my hands on. You read enough undergraduate essays, you start to crave good grammar and composition like chocolate. Yet, sometimes you hit really good writing and wonderful stories in genre fiction so I’ll try anything. My husband and friends are all scifi/fantasy readers and writers, so I read a lot against my first preference…

    Comment by Chaser — March 20, 2008 @ 5:09 pm

  10. My BFF and I are listening to these on audiobook. So far we’ve just gotten through the prequel and I’m halfway through the first book. What little I know so far would put me as a Yellow.

    Another good fantasy series is Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, though I’m sad to say there is the occasional anti-fat misnomer (mages can’t be fat because mage energies use physical resources, etc.). Lots of pro-female stuff, though, that may make up for it.

    Comment by Alix — March 20, 2008 @ 5:12 pm

  11. I LOVE this series. I have book 11, actually, but I can’t get into it without sitting down and reading the rest beforehand, and I’ve misplaced “The Great Hunt.” *cries*

    Also, may I recommend “New Spring,” which is the prequel to the Wheel of Time – All about Moiraine and Siuan getting their mission to look for the Dragon and Moiraine and Lan meeting. Good read.

    And, as another recommendation (hehe, I LOVE fantasy), Anne Bishop’s “Black Jewels Triology.” There is a rather disturbing scene at the end of the first book, and it deals with some themes that are . . . unsavory, but deals with them in a positive way (if that makes sense) overall. I’ve read them many, many times.

    Now, for an Ajah. I’d go for either Green or Brown. Green because I think they’ve got a good reason for existing. And as many men as you want? Yes, please. Brown because I like learning, and I think that it would be really cool to be able to go around and research stuff.

    Comment by Cassie — March 20, 2008 @ 5:43 pm

  12. Since others are recommending fantasy, I’d recommend the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman as well as Stardust by Neil Gaiman.

    Funny thing though: after spending a year and a half reading Wheel of Time and HDM, the straight-forward nature of Stardust and even New Spring seemed somewhat trite by comparison.

    This is not to say that either of those novels is trite. At all. It’s just funny what a year reading sprawling stories can do to one’s perspective.

    Comment by JadedKitten — March 20, 2008 @ 6:04 pm

  13. Guy Gavriel Kay’s trilogy the Fionavar Tapestry and Jaqueline Carey’s Kushiel series are also great reads. The latter, however, may not be suitable for all, as it deals with some adult themes.

    Comment by Belle — March 20, 2008 @ 7:04 pm

  14. You know, I tried, I honestly tried to read this series, because Francesca, you are so not the first person to recommend this.

    Now, I love fantasy, sci-fi, all sorts of good shit, and long books and series do not deter me in the least (if they did, I wouldn’t have finished all of the Outlander series to date in five days… yeah). But I slogged through book one, and slogged my way partway in to book 5, and I could not have told you anything that had happened besides braid-tugging and dress-smoothing. Seriously. And a couple of hallucinations.

    I tossed it aside, and haven’t looked back since. I stopped reading it in about 2002. I have no plans to ever finish it.

    I’m glad you enjoy it, but for serious, it made me want to shoot myself.

    Comment by french — March 20, 2008 @ 10:09 pm

  15. I started this and got through the first six or so books – the last one I picked up was moving so sllllooooowwwwwlllly and bored me to tears. I gave them all away and hadn’t thought of them again until your post. I’d much rather spend my fantasy reading time with Terry Pratchett and the Discworld series. Funny, timely, good social commentary buried in a well written novel.

    Comment by Carol — March 21, 2008 @ 8:16 am

  16. Like Cassie I have recommend the BJT because I love love love it. I have reread it enough times that I have settled on which Jewel I would be an everything. I do agree there are some heavy scenes and themes in the series that one needs to be prepared for though.

    Comment by AmazonAngelle — March 21, 2008 @ 1:10 pm

  17. I did not know Jordan died. Sad. I think Brown would be my best fit, but wouldn’t Green be fun? I have read them all, more than once, and enjoy them immensely.

    I just borrowed book 2 of the “His Dark Materials” trilogy, “The Amber Spyglass” from the library.

    But as “Carol” recommended, Terry Pratchett is my newest love.

    Those others sound intriguing as well.

    Comment by Idalin — March 21, 2008 @ 10:31 pm

  18. Brown. I have always, always wanted to be brown since I started reading that series when I was 11 years old. It’s the whole sexy librarian thing.
    And Francesca, you just made my day letting me know that Jordan actually wrote down the ending and left enough material to get there! I hadn’t read book 11, because I was waiting for the series to end, and it was indeed a dark day when Jordan died.

    Comment by KES — March 21, 2008 @ 10:33 pm

  19. French and Carol-

    Indeed, as Francesca noted in her post, fans complained that as the series went on, it started moving too slowly. You are not the first to have this criticism. So after Book 7 or 8 or so, Jordan picked up the pace a bit. It is frustrating, but once you’ve gotten that far into a series, one simply MUST know how it ends!

    Before he died, Jordan said that he would finish the series in one more book, even if the book had to be 1500 pages long. And the writer hired to take over for him has said that he too will stick to that commitment.


    Comment by Francesca — March 22, 2008 @ 5:18 pm

  20. Gosh, I think I’d either have to be yellow or green. I started reading this series way back when in high school, and I was very, very sad when I found out that he passed away. I love the way these books are crafted, even though they do tend to move fairly slowly at times. Excellent recommendation! :D

    Comment by Claire — March 24, 2008 @ 10:11 pm

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