Thursday, February 18, 2010

The One Where He Raced Against Death

When I read a hardcover book, the first thing I do is whip the dust jacket off and stow it somewhere safe. I would guess that at least half the time I never manage to reunite the book with its cover… but it is always my intention. I finished a book last night. It was the twelfth in a series of books that each spanned about 800 pages.

Back in 2005, Robert Jordan (which is a pen name for James Oliver Rigney, Jr.) announced that this twelfth book would at last end the series. He had slowed down to a book about every two years, and long about the beginning of 2007, I began to search the internet for news about this eagerly awaited (certainly by me) novel. I found a website called “Dragonmount” which was apparently Jordan’s official website, and also a blog of sorts for him. It was then and there that I read the distressing news: Robert Jordan had been diagnosed with the fatal heart disease cardiac amyloidosis. He had begun a race against the disease to finish this last book, A Memory of Light.

I began visiting that site frequently, as I was saddened by this news, but also fascinated by the idea that he was so determined to finish this work. The disease unfortunately progressed quickly, and rather than working to complete the novel, Jordan began to feverishly prepare for the eventuality that another novelist would complete the novel for him. He said, “I’m getting out notes, so if the worst actually happens, someone could finish a Memory of Light and have it end the way I want it to end.” On September 16th of 2007, Jordan lost that race, and the conclusion of his life’s work was up in the air.

In December of 2007, Tor Books announced that Brandon Sanderson, a fantasy author and Brigham Young University professor, was to finish A Memory of Light. He was chosen by Jordan’s widow in part because she liked his fantasy novels, and in part because of a eulogy Sanderson had written for Jordan.

So… back to last night. I got to about 100 pages from the end, and I realized something. This book is not wrapping up to a conclusion. Since the entire series pointed to a “last battle,” the final showdown, so to speak, I had to imagine that by page 700 of the last book, we would be getting to said showdown. But no… not even close. At midnight last night I finished, and… the story definitely did not. I retrieved the dust jacket to find some sort of explanation. Here is how observant I was: first of all, the title of the book is “The Gathering Storm,” not A Memory of Light. Secondly, right on the dust jacket, it says, “First book of A Memory of Light.” Like I said, I had that dust jacket off pretty fast. I went back to Dragonmount and found that in 2009, Tor Books announced that A Memory of Light would be split into three volumes. Haha! Silly me.

I am totally down with that, since I was not really ready for it to be over, and also because Sanderson did a bang-up job of honoring the memory of Robert Jordan with a seamless transition in this book. I don’t do many book reviews here, but if you are an utterly hopeless sci-fi fantasy geek like me, and prefer books that are not sexually explicit (too many of them are, I am afraid), and you don’t mind an 800-page read, this is a great series. I love the characters, and the amazing premise Jordan created. If you decide to attempt it, you will want to start with “Eye of the World.”


Tyler said...

Mom, you said dragon for the second post in a row. I that the theme for the week or rather you were reading this book during that time.

Victoria said...

It is not the theme for the week, but I'll bet I can manage to work it into every post:)

Just ME the MOM said...

Hee - I noticed that also.

My son loves Robert Jordan, I'll have to share this information with him, I bet he's unaware of it. I haven't read any of his books - but hear good things!


Cherie said...

My husband and Ryan (my oldest) also are VERY into this series and have read them all. Ryan just finished The Gathering Storm and LOVED IT and was also very excited that this BYU professor had written it and done such an outstanding job!
I learned something new about you - I didn't know you were a sci-fi geek :D

Debbie / Cranberry Fries said...

I still haven't read this yet but I think I'd like to pick up one of Brandons books. He's a local Utah author so he's been at a few of the events I've gone to this past year. In fact he was the keynote speaker at one and is just so funny. Glad to hear you've liked the series. I've heard fabulous things about it.