One of the most influential series of books I’ve ever read, Robert Jordan’s “Wheel of Time” series, has recently been nominated for a Hugo award. The Hugos are fantasy and science fiction’s Booker prize, our Academy Awards, our Oscars. After a fan-generated nomination campaign, the entire ‘Wheel of Time’ series has made it onto the shortlist: all 15 novels and 4,410,000 pages. The list of contenders for the 2014 Hugo Prize for Best Novel was released on the 19th of April, and the winner will be announced at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London (or Loncon 3 for short).

My first encounter with Robert Jordan’s work came around September / October in 2003, at a WH Smith in Heathrow airport. As a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy, airport bookshops have always been rather dubious prospects: a couple of shelves filled with Tolkien and Terry Pratchett if you’re lucky. However, this time I came away with a copy of ‘The Eye of the World’, Jordan’s first novel and book one in his epic high fantasy series, ‘The Wheel of Time’. I was flying from London to Heathrow, and in the space of the 75-minute flight I was hooked.


‘The Wheel of Time’ has long occupied a strange position within the science fiction / fantasy genre. The series has sold somewhere between 80-90 million copies worldwide, making it one of the most successful literary undertakings of all time even before you take into consideration the sheer scope of the work. However, critics are quick to compare it (unfavorably) with Tolkiens’ ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy. Practically every fantasy nerd I’ve ever met has read the series, and practically every ‘purist’ or lecturer I’ve spoken to about it has dismissed it as derivative. As such, I was thrilled to hear that the books have been nominated for such a prestigious award, and I can’t help but suspect that there are a lot of other Jordan fans feeling the same smug vindication!

It’s always bugged me that I never got around to finishing the series. I left secondary school right around the time that Robert Jordan’s death left the entire (unfinished) series’ life hanging in the balance. However, since then Brandon Sanderson has done an admirable job in finishing out the series: consulting Jordan’s extensive notes on his vision for his series, and ghost-writing to fill in the parts Jordan had no explicit plan for (ghost-collaborating? Sounds spooky, but apt).

So, ahead of the announcement of the Hugo winner this August, I’ve picked up book one again, just like I did over a decade ago, and this time I intend to see the whole series through to the finish.