I sat down to begin writing this, thumbing my favorite pipe full of my favorite tabac, a cold beer in front of me, trying to figure out how it feels to just now – more than twenty years after I first read The Eye of the World – close the cover on the last book.
I love this story. There’s no other way to say it, really. I fell in love with this story at a young age and never feel out of love with it. It’s one of the relatively few masterpieces of epic, multi-volume fiction out there. It is, in my estimation, right up there with The Lord of the Rings and The Foundation Trilogy and The Chronicles of Narnia. It is sweeping in scope and yet deeply personal in its storytelling. These books are a gateway into a strange and exciting world that, at the same time, is somehow familiar. The characters, their motivations, emotions, even their choices… they feel… like us. You see your family and friends reflected in these fictional people. You see yourself.
Every time I cracked open any of the novels in The Wheel of Time, I felt like I was, to some degree at least, coming home. And that’s why it was so hard to turn the last page, close the back cover, and be done. There’s a sense of accomplishment, sure. That’s a lot of story to read and it feels good to have finished it in a year, even given my usual, voracious reading rate. But there’s also a deep sense of loss. This world was my world for a year. When I turned off my brain and needed to escape, this is where I went. These characters were people that I cared about. And now it’s done. It’s over. It’s finished. There will be no more books written about Rand Al’Thor and Perrin Aybara and Matrim Cauthon. We won’t ever know what happened during the reign of Elayne Trakand. We won’t find out how the Aiel survived the end of their great purpose.
We’ll never know. Because it’s over.
Even as I write that, my chest aches. There’s a very real finality to the end of that book. Robert Jordan has passed on and, while Brandon Sanderson finished the epic, it’s not his world to expand on. Besides, he has his own epic fantasy series to write.
And that’s ok. It was a good end. It felt right. It felt complete.
I’m 100% sure that I will, at some point, re-read the whole thing again. I’m only in my mid-thirties, after all. I’ve got plenty more reading years left to me. But it’s not going to be any time soon. I’m going to have to rest a bit… a year is a long time to spend reading one story. Even if it is one of the best stories ever written.