The Wheel of Time: A Light Re-read of Memory, Or Something

Happy holidays, People of Tor.com!

I know, you’re like, what are you doing here, Leigh? The Wheel of Time Re-read is on hiatus! And so it is, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still talk about the Wheel of Time. Because, evidently, I can always do that.

For as the release of the fourteenth and final Wheel of Time book, A Memory of Light, inexorably approaches, the Powers That Be at Tor.com thought this would be a good time for me—and you—to look back on the series as a near-whole, and contemplate All The Things about it—what these books have meant to us all.

So let’s do that, shall we?

 

The problem, for me, with talking about how the Wheel of Time has affected me personally is that if I were to tell you every story in which this series played some part, directly or indirectly, in my life we’d be here all day.

Because the Wheel of Time has somehow ended up playing an almost absurdly large role in my life, not just as a series of books I happen to enjoy, but as a driving force in some of the more crucial pivot points of the actual direction of my relationships, my experiences, my worldview and even my career. I’m still not really sure how that happened, but nevertheless it is the case.

Seriously, so many stories, y’all.

I could tell you the story of how I first found the series. I could tell you the story of how WOT was the impetus for my discovery of the Internet, and fandom in general, and thereby opened up a whole new world to me, one which I have really never left since.

I could tell you the story of how the friends I made there led to me flying across the country to a demented fairytale city that has no business existing in the real world, by myself, to hang out with some 40-odd people I had never seen in person before that weekend, despite my mother’s dire conviction that I would end up dead in a dumpster as a result. (Spoiler: I didn’t.)

I could tell you the story of how in 2005 I ended up driving to Oakland, California, in a purple PT Cruiser, to have dinner with Robert Jordan and Harriet McDougal in a Moroccan restaurant, thanks to some Jason dude, and how I got to see for myself what utterly charming and wonderful people they were, and how much of an impression it made on me to see how unconsciously secure Mr. Rigney was in his role as a teller of stories. It was like he could never have been anything else, and at some point I realized that that’s what makes someone a writer. This wasn’t something I was going to forget in a hurry.

I could tell you about the shock and genuine grief I felt at his passing.

I could tell you how that trip to Vegas was thirteen years ago, and I am still friends with most of those Scary Internet People today, and see many of them at least once or twice a year even though we are scattered across states and nations and continents. I could tell you how those friends rallied to render assistance and support to my family in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and again when my father passed away, and how they have truly become one of the bedrocks of my life.

I could tell you how one of those friends shanghaied allowed me to take over the Wheel of Time FAQ, and how years later, another of those friends, as a result, recommended me to helm some crazy Re-read thing for some crazy upstart website. I could tell you how I have made even more friends as a result, and gone from never having even attended a fandom convention to this:

I could tell you how the Re-read went from what was supposed to a short-term side project to being the most significant and pivotal (and fun!) endeavor of my career thus far, and led to me going places and doing things I would never have done otherwise. I could tell you how it’s let me meet with and work with and drink with some of the most amazing and talented and dedicated and awesome people I’ve ever met. I could tell you how it was the success of the Re-read and the fervor of the response it has generated that finally convinced me that yes, writing really is my vocation, and what I want and hope to be doing for the rest of my life.

I could tell you how WOT scratched a story itch I didn’t even really know I had when I first started reading it, and let me shamelessly revel in every trope epic fantasy has to offer, played earnestly and eloquently and endearingly straight. I could tell you how I think reading it and discussing it and arguing about it has taught me more about (among other things) politics, philosophy, feminism, mythology, logic, history, ethics, and critical thinking than I ever learned in my formal education. I could tell you how the series and the people I met as a result of it became a lens which I have used and still use to bring the rest of my weird life into focus.

I could tell you how I’m sad the journey is coming to an end soon, but simultaneously not at all sad, because the ending we’re getting is more than worth the effort.

And besides, to say it’s coming to an end isn’t really true at all. I seem to recall that someone claimed there are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time. And that’s the truth, thhbbt.

I could tell you all those stories, but I’d rather hear yours. What has the Wheel of Time meant to you? Pull up a comment box or two and share, why dontcha?

 

 


Leigh Butler is a writer, blogger, and opinionator for Tor.com, where she conducts The Wheel of Time Re-read and A Read of Ice and Fire, and feels guilty that she can’t individually thank every single person who’s told her they’ve enjoyed her writing, because that is seriously just about her most favorite thing. Mwah to alla y’all.

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