The Gathering Storm
October 30, 2009 4 Comments
I don’t know how many of you are readers, avid or otherwise, but I am. Ever since I was a child, I’ve devoured books I come across, intrigued and amazed at the worlds created and the stories of people in settings beyond my reality. From Science-Fiction and Fantasy, to Military and Spy, I enjoy all sorts. Of course, like many of you probably, my main focus has always been the Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre. Novels of my youth like Lord of the Rings, Deathgate Cycle, the Wrinkle in Time and the Ender series drew me in completely, and had me bugging my parents for frequent trips to the library and the local book store.
One particular trip to Books-a-Million with my parents through the check-out line sticks out in my memory. I was in fourth grade, and my eye was drawn to what looked like a normal-sized paper-back book. The book was blue, had some interesting art on the cover, and on the bottom right corner was a large orange circle, spiked around the rim, that said “FREE” in bold black letters. I picked it up, and asked the female cashier, “Is this really free?”. I was a polite child, and even then, I didn’t like to presume things (or I knew most free things have a catch), she nodded at me an affirmative, and I walked out with what I thought was a full book. That book was called The Eye of the World and it was actually only the first half of the first novel of the series.
I remember going home that night, and going straight to my room to lay in my bed and read my newest acquisition. The binding was still stiff and firm, and the pages a clean white with the dry scent of freshly printed paper wafting up to my nose every time I turned a page. That night, I sat on my bed, on top of a black comforter, with fluffy pillows the color of light coffee, transfixed by the words that came in front of my eyes. The story unfolding in front of me was captivating and engrossive. I was always a child that could easily play by himself, and was pretty quiet when doing so, but even for me, I spent more time than usual out of the path of my family, and I remember my parents checking on me to see if I had fallen asleep. But no, I was riveted to my bed by words of steel that held tighter than any other contraption. I believe I got through 150 or so pages that night. Within the week, I had consumed the entirety of the book, and was dismayed to see that the back half of the book was stashed away elsewhere, and that only a purchase could bring me satisfaction. I had found the catch!
So, I set to bugging my parents and eventually got the entirety of the first book. I systematically ate up each subsequent novel in the path until I hit the current newly released fifth book named Fires of Heaven. After that, I found out what it was to wait on Robert Jordan, and his release of books. He was an author who took his time, and was detailed in his writing. I have spent the subsequent 15 years reading his books, and before each new book was released, I would re-read the series. I have also read the series a smattering of times extra, so on the whole, I have probably read books one through five a total of 10 times, and each following book once less. My repeated readings has resulted in three extra purchases of the Eye of the World in paperback, two extra of The Great Hunt, two extra of the Lord of Chaos, two extra of A Crown of Swords. These books can only take so many readings between myself and friends before they fall apart. Obviously, I have been a devoted fan, and these books have been a staple of my life and entertainment for more than half of my life.
Like any good fan, I have shared my passion with as many people as possible, including my wife’s best friend her husband. We will often talk about the series with each other, much to my wife’s chagrin (she dislikes fantasy), in what probably sounds like a foreign language to any outsider. The world Jordan created is so vast and robust, that it truly does have a depth unlike the majority of other novels or series out there, and lets fans discuss it ad-nauseum.
However, back in 2007, James Oliver Rigney, Jr (Rober Jordan as we knew him) passed away after being diagnosed of cardiac amyloidosis in March of 2006, and fans across the globe mourned the loss of one of the greatest fantasy writers of our time. His novels were unfinished, at book 11, but the series was not over.
Rigney kept extensive notes and studies, and the wonderful bard who had spun a world so many of us loved, had told the remainder of the story, verbally, to a small group of lucky listeners, and his wife, his constant companion Harriet, worked to see the completion of her husbands work. A new writer was chosen to carry the torch left by Jordan, a man named Brandon Sanderson.
On October 27 (my birthday for those paying attention) of this year, book 12 was released. Originally, book 12 was meant to be the last of the series, and Jordan had been quoted as saying something along the lines of, “I don’t care if it’s 1500 pages, book 12 will be the final in the series”. Well, as it turns out, it would have to be 1500 pages or more, so the series is being carried out to 14. My current re-read of the series has me on book 10 right now, with only a couple hundred pages remaining. When I finish, I will be picking up my copy of The Gathering Storm, to read, and add to my collection.
edit: Jordan died in 2007, not 1997 (an impossibility since he was diagnosed in 2006). Doh!