Off The Press – Sick of the fantasy
June 3, 2014
By Peter Clark
I cannot wait for all the boring nonfiction I will read this summer.
As I have bragged about here, I ran another marathon last month. Needing 18 weeks of training, I decided to return one last time to the “Wheel of Time” fantasy series, written by Robert Jordan. I started the 14-book saga when I was 15, reading it with my father.
Over the years, we have both gone back to reread it as new books in the series are released. With the last book released in 2014, I decided it would make for an interesting path to listen to the 13 books I previously read while running and then read the final book to close this long chapter of my life. This decision left me with two realizations.
First, this was an enormous time commitment. I began training for the Vancouver marathon the last week of December and am only now 200 pages away from finishing the final book. In many ways, I would consider the fantasy series the more arduous journey.
Though I read several books in the past few months while not running, I would more often than not return to the expansively huge world of the “Wheel of Time,” first because I felt captivated and then later just to get my way through it.
The second realization came when I admitted to myself that Mr. Jordan did not write very well. Out of a 14 book series, I loathed books five through 11. This coupled hilariously with the fact that I can grow emotional while exercising. I have many memories of running up the steep hills of Seattle or Tiger Mountain growing increasingly angry and bitter about the precious characters and intensely slow plodding of a sprawling story that refused to go anywhere.
Unfortunately, after the completion of the 11th book, Mr. Jordan died. His wife turned the series over to Brandon Sanderson to finish it and the sad reality is the whole thing became much better. Sitting on the precipice of the story’s end, the whole adventure has become incredibly interesting.
I still will not recommend them. Though I re-entered the series from a nostalgic standpoint, I am leaving with a bad taste in my mouth. I remain unclear whether this stems from sheer growth of personality, cynicism taking hold of me or maybe I’ve learned something about writing in my years of doing it for a living.
Regardless, I need to learn to live. Fantasy books are an escape I will allow myself every now and then, but I ultimately feel more hollow without actually learning something from the books I read. It will be nice to get out from under this literary hermitage and get back into the boring, long-winded nonfiction I enjoy to make me feel like my time is well-spent.