Should you skip to the last Wheel of Time book if you haven’t read the last 8 books?

I may have committed some kind of unpardonable sin. I’m listening to the last Wheel of Time book without having read books 6-13.

That’s right, I skipped more than half of the series, and am listening to the last book.

I’m sorry, I just couldn’t help it. Back it the early 90s I loved The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn, The Shadow Rising, and The Fires of Heaven so much that they really influenced me into start writing. Those, more than any books, lit a fire under me.

But life happened and I stopped reading for a few years. By the time I got back to the Wheel of Time, just considering the intimidating length of Lord of Chaos’s Prologue was enough to turn me off. I just didn’t have time. I suspect my reading interests changed.  And besides, many people said that a lot of those books just weren’t very good. (Just look at the reviews of Crossroads of Twilight, would you?) Nothing happened in the books, or they happened agonizingly slowly.

“I’ll read the entire series once the last book is out,” I told myself, believing in my heart of hearts that the last book would never come out.

So you can imagine the forceful tug on my braid that I gave myself when the last book came out, and I considered that stack of 13 books and thought, “I just can’t do it.”

So, how is it, skipping books 6-13? Am I lost in the plot? Do I know what’s going on? Do I even know any of these characters?

Actually, things are awesome. I’m not lost. I know most of the characters, and I’m surprised at just how little the plot has progressed in the 8 books I didn’t read. It’s almost as if the characters have been running in circles on little side quests for 8 books. (I would never presume to accuse TOR of milking the series, although I might listen to people who would.)

To be fair, I did spend about an hour reading plot summaries of books 6-13 (I think on this site: http://www.wotsummary.com/). And there were some interesting things that happened in those books, but really, in the end I feel pretty good about where I’m at.

So, if you’re in the same boat I was—you read some of the series but couldn’t bring yourself to read all those books that were coming out about once every 3 years—I say go for it. Read those plot summaries of books you haven’t read, then jump right in to the last book.

Will some things not make perfect sense? Sure. Will you miss some nuances? Of course. Will you wonder who this or that character is? Absolutely.

But you’ll have a grasp of a majority of plot points, and you’ll know who all the really important (and many of the minor) characters are.  If you’re willing to just recognize that you’ll miss a few things, or won’t know exactly who all the minor characters are, you’ll be just fine.

I am. I’m glad I jumped in.

So far I’m about 1/3 of the way through, and enjoying it—but also very happy I didn’t invest the time to read all those other books. Maybe someday I’ll go back and read the first 5 books again, for old time’s sake. And maybe I’ll read the other two books written by Sanderson (who I’m a big fan of). But there’s a high likelihood that I’ll never read The Path of Daggers and a few others.

For now, I’m just excited to be back in this world. With the end in sight. Of course, the big question from the early 90s remains: Will Rand survive the last battle?

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