The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, 1), Robert Jordan
In high school, I found my genre of choice when it comes to reading, fantasy, but not just fantasy, epic fantasy. For my middle school years, I had focused on Accelerated Reader to take home top prizes, like an air hockey table or, the finally replaced, sleeping bag.
Looking back now, I can’t seem to remember which series I launched into first, but it was during my high school years that I devoured the likes of A Song of Ice and Fire, Sword of Truth, and The Wheel of Time.
All three books were discovered via recommendations.
A Game of Thrones, the first of A Song of Ice and Fire, was recommended by my former teacher, who was an author herself and had managed to get its author to attend a local science fiction and fantasy convention, the now defunct Conestoga. Having no idea of the future cultural impact of A Game of Thrones, I wish I could remember the conversation I had with George R.R. Martin, but alas, it was 2005. I never would have foreseen the books being made into Tits with a Chance of Dragons, er, I mean, Game of Thrones. Whether the book was recommended because of her horror that I was reading Terry Goodkind or she was simply plugging the con’s guest of honor’s book, I couldn’t say, but I thoroughly enjoyed the first three books in the series and would soon become accustomed to the long, long (and, at times, disappointing) wait as authors refused to finish books at my demands.
A Wizard’s First Rule, authored by Terry Goodkind and which has already been written about on a previous entry, was recommended by an older cousin, the one who introduced me to anime, which could very well explain a lot . . . Anyway, the first of the Sword of Truth series was great, but as a whole, the series was very hit or miss, and due to an unexpected continuation, still unfinished. So while fun and escapism, it is not the series I have come back to or the one that led me to my favorite author, Brandon Sanderson.
That epic fantasy series would be The Wheel of Time, and the book that started it all, being The Eye of the World. Recommended by the former high school librarian turned FBI analyst, it was a series first read throughout my high school years. I would be ready to drive the Silver Fox to Borders to pick up the next book in the series, which would lead my mom to go retrieve my early Christmas present from her closet. I read three of the series in the car on the way to Colorado to go skiing with my dad and stepmom and found more time to read during that trip after coming down with the flu, cutting my skiing short. I read Lord of Chaos, book six during, either, my freshman or junior year because I distinctly remember drawing the map of the series’s world as an assignment, assigned by the teacher and parent of my junior year’s date for prom, the one who, likely due to karma, went home with her mom midway through prom. I remember Crossroads of Twilight, book ten, being my first hardcover purchase of the series.
My second read through of the series would be after the author’s death and the announcement that Brandon Sanderson would be completing Jordan’s fourteen volume magnum opus. I spent a lot of time rereading the series on European trains. During my college summer abroad at Oxford, I would shove the thick books into the pockets of my khaki shorts I’d worn since middle school and explore history. Long lost digital photos of long lost acquaintances snapping a picture of me lost in the series as the train rattled to Florence.
My third read through of the series began with twenty-five minute commutes from a duplex in Norman, OK to my school in Oklahoma City. Read by two extremely talented individuals who would later go on to bring auditory life to Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and The Stormlight Archive series. I would refinish book fourteen in mid-August of 2015, months before, through my own actions, my life changed forever. For a lot of reasons, I think of those commutes often. Very often.
I think on this series often and where I was when I was reading it and who I was when I was reading it.