The Dragon Smouldering

Wingrove on Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Full text after the break…


The Dragon Smouldering – Or More on Robert Jordan

If you’ve been following these blogs, you’ll know I began reading the Wheel of Time series with a degree of skepticism and more than a touch of irritation at the way Jordan ‘stole’ from other writers – Tolkein and Herbert particularly. Well, since the opening to Book Three, I’ve been enjoying it more and more. Book Three – The Dragon Reborn – was an entertaining read, by the end of which I’d practically switched off my critical faculties and let myself go with the flow. Book Four – The Shadow Rising – was even better, and, now that I’ve finished it, I have to say that Book Five – The Fires of Heaven – tops them by some degrees. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s an excellent read. Oh, it’s no exercise in style, and it doesn’t involve me emotionally the way Lord Of The Rings always does when I’m in its grip, but it was a splendid display of story-telling, and I have to admit I could be found – this last week – dipping into it whenever I could, just to know what happened next. There are still things I could carp about, if I wanted to, but hell, it’s that rare creature, A GOOD READ, and you shouldn’t cavil too much when you encounter something that’s both entertaining and imaginative.

I like the growth of the characters, the variety of settings he creates and the ever-increasing sense of depth he’s given to his world. I can understand now why people get so immersed in these books. I hope they do the same with mine, but as the creator of anything this large, it’s hard to tell – you’re always too deep within the beast.

So, right now, I’m enjoying the adventures of Rand, Perrin, Mat and the girls. Book Six, Lord Of Chaos, lies ahead of me – all one thousand and eleven pages of it – and I’m really looking forward to it. It makes me wonder what would have happened had my planned fantasy work ever got beyond its first chapter. I spent months, back when I was just eighteen, drawing up the map – which still exists in 26 lovingly drawn sections – and plotting the thing out. I can still remember what the first chapter was called – The Winter Smiles Of Young Men Dying – but not what it was about, not having even glanced at it these past thirty-odd years. One day, perhaps, I shall. And maybe even finish it. Only I’d be hard put to match Jordan’s sheer drive. His commitment. No. I don’t think I could do something like Chung Kuo in the fantasy vein. For one thing, there’s just not enough years left to do it in.

Okay. The launch is tomorrow and I’m really looking forward to it. Forbidden Planet at six, and then on for a wee celebration. I’ll blog about it at the weekend. Until then, take care.

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