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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Van Bender prequel and trilogy available now!

Van Bender and the Burning EmblemsFinally! After about two years of work, the Van Bender Archives are available on Amazon. Strangely enough, the hardest part was getting Amazon to list the prequel for free.

The series is about Richie Van Bender, the hottest teenage rock star on the planet. All he really wants is a chance at a normal life. He’d like to use Facebook and interact with his friends online. Maybe even hold a concert or two and win an award here and there. His mother refuses, saying it’s for his own safety. She basically treats him like a criminal.

But with a little help from his friends, Richie seizes an opportunity to live his dream, and learns exactly what his mom is talking about when she says he has no idea what’s out there.

Here are links to all the books:

A word in favor of content guides

Somehow, books have maintained their status as one of the few modern entertainment mediums that are not subject to some kind “objective” rating system that advises consumers regarding the content of the book.

I suppose this is fine, but as a result have found myself reading a fair number of books without a clue regarding some of the content in them, and subsequently stopping because I simply wasn’t interested in some of the content.

I would prefer it if I could learn beforehand the nature of the content I will read in a book. This desire is amplified as my children grow older and select their own books. How can we choose books that we will dislike due to content we aren’t interested in if we have no way of knowing what the content is? I don’t know of a way.

For example, these days the movie rating system is not detailed enough to tell me if the content of a movie is something I want to watch. So, before I go to a movie or rent a DVD, I use the IMDB app on the iPad to take a look at the parental guide. I’m interested in seeing what kind of content the movie contains. Not just for my children, but for me. On several occasions, I’ve decided not to watch or rent a particular movie because I’m not interested in some of the content.

I suppose I miss out on some good movies, but I can handle that. I don’t need to see everything that most people would probably deem worth seeing. Content guides have benefited me. I’m aware of friends and family members that use content guides in the same way.

As far as I know, we don’t have the same resource for books. I’d like to suggest that writers take the initiative to provide content guides for their own books as a courtesy to those who would prefer to filter certain types of content.

Note that I did not say “parental guide” but “content guide.” Sure there are types of content that are inappropriate for kids, but there are also types of content I don’t want to experience. It’s that simple.

I imagine some people (both authors and readers) will object to these content guides on various grounds, but I view the guides as a courtesy to readers interested in them. Nobody is going to make anyone read the content guide beforehand.

As an author, I see content guides as beneficial. If someone knows beforehand whether they won’t like some of the content of my book, there’s a better chance that they won’t read (and subsequently rate) a book they won’t like. This will probably lead to higher ratings for books.

So, from here on out, I’ll be providing content guides for my books, and will be looking for them before I read other books. Will it stop me from reading a book if I don’t find one? Probably not, but I’ll probably review a book poorly if I find content in there that I don’t like. After all, I didn’t like it, and that’s what a personal review represents.