Every year, there is a Tug of War festival held in a town called Giji-si, outside of Dangjin, South Korea. The tradition is over 500 years old, but recently has become a much bigger event than it previously was… the now annual construction of two massive ropes and a huge field for festivities have helped make the festival extremely popular.
At the end of March 2013, I got my hands on fifteen e-books. These weren’t just any e-books, but a series of e-books. Not just any series, but a series that I’ve been reading on and off again for years, my childhood companion, characters and adventures that I grew up with. The Wheel of Time Series.
A little history: Robert Jordan published the first book of the series in 1990, and planned to make it six books long. That plan went out the window at some point, and he worked his life away, for another 17 years, to finish what would be a twelve book series. In a too-dramatic-to-believe fashion, he died with the last book unfinished. It was a disaster. But, since his sickness was slow and predictable, he readied notes and plans for the last book so that it could be completed by someone else after his death. His wife chose Brandon Sanderson to complete book twelve, who looked at Robert’s notes and (presumably) snorted loudly at the thought of all that storyline fitting into one book. So the series became fourteen books long, as book number twelve was split into three.
(If you’re wonder why I said fifteen books earlier, it’s because there is also a prequel that’s kind of part of the series but technically not.)
Book twelve and thirteen were published while I was still in University, so I was able to read them. I’ve been dying to finish the series ever since. But it took until 2013 for Sanderson to finish the final book, the epic ending. Feeling like I needed to do the series justice and really immerse myself into the story, to make the last book as meaningful and emotional as possible, I decided to do a complete re-read. All fifteen books, including the prequel.
So at the end of March 2013, it was time. Wheel of Time time. March 22nd, 2013: It began.
Update from March 25th, 2013 (read the original Tumblr post here):
“Recently, I’ve been a little antisocial…
Not just with the internet, but with everyone. Unanswered text messages sit on my phone. My friends have been asking when I’m free to Skype, when I’m free for dinner, what my plans are for the weekend. My initiative has been weak, my follow-ups non-existent. My heart isn’t in it.”
“Is there an end in sight? Yes… in thirteen books. So, let’s be honest, I’m a lost cause. My tiny apartment in the countryside has effectively become my cabin in the woods. Real life is so dull without epic good versus evil battles and crazy superhuman abilities that happen to these everyday characters. My brain wants to live in my books, not in reality.
To those who are trying to get in contact with me and failing… I apologize. But my head (and my heart) seem to be stuck in books, until further notice. Real life, I’ll see you later.”
Update from April 5th, 2013 (original Tumblr post here):
“Although this blog is about my life abroad, my current life is kind of swallowed up by the books I’ve been reading during nearly every hour I can spare. I wrote about my sudden obsessive onset, but I thought I’d let you know just how far I’ve gotten through the series so far. You can estimate for yourself how much more time I’ll need to finish, and get back to my normal, see-my-friends-and-the-daylight-occasionally life.” (Sally’s note in hindsight: HAH! Like I have friends to see.)
0. New Spring (prequel)
1. The Eye of the World
2. The Great Hunt
3. The Dragon Reborn
4. The Shadow Rising
5. The Fires of Heaven
6. Lord of Chaos
7. A Crown of Swords
8. The Path of Daggers
9. Winter’s Heart
10. Crossroads of Twilight
11. Knife of Dreams
12. The Gathering Storm
13. Towers of Midnight
14. A Memory of Light
The entire series has a total of 11,916 pages (thanks Wikipedia!) and over 4 million words. Epic, indeed. Since I started reading, I’ve gotten through five books and a little more than half of the sixth. Clearly, you can see why my social life has been suffering. Based on page count, I’m about 1/3 through the entire series.
And I’m still going strong. Let’s just say that the last book is going to be a serious affair for me. If anyone bothers me while I’m reading book #15… it won’t be a pretty sight.”
Completed on May 5th, 2013:
Finally, I finished. You read those dates correctly; in 44 days, I read 11,916 words. That’s 271 words per day, or one book every three days, on average. That, my friends, is definitely a sub-definition of insanity. Or maybe your average day at law school. Either way, I’ll need a little rest before I undertake something like this again.
The last book was the newest, and the only book I hadn’t read previously. It definitely lived up to my expectations, and then exceeded them and then kicked them on the floor and danced away. That’s how good the conclusion was. The only thing I’m sad about is that my favorite character didn’t make it to the end, and died (obviously in an incredible act of heroism). I guess that’s just how the cookie crumbles, though.
Time to remind all my friends that I am, indeed, still alive!
Update from October 2013:
Since finishing these books, I’ve since shared the love with other expats in my area. It’s started an infection. At least two of my friends are so hooked, they’re getting to the very end of the series in a relatively short amount of time, like me. Another two friends have at least begun the series and find it lovely. I can only imagine the books will continue to circulate and the WOT love will become an epidemic. Even if you don’t typically like fantasy books, you should give Book One, The Eye of the World, a try, because these books are phenomenal! The details, the story, the plot twists, the immaculately evolved character development: you won’t be disappointed, except by the fact that you can’t stop time and get lost in these books forever and ever. Happy reading!
My mom and I had been talking about visiting the Asian side of Istanbul for the entirety of our trip. We’d seen it shortly, on a guided tour, and we’d taken a bunch of ferries here and there, although not by ourselves. We woke up on a Saturday, a beautiful day, and had our plans in hand, literally, in the form of my Frommer’s day-by-day book: an Üsküdar walking tour.