Epic Fantasy: The Quest for a Resolution

The Lord of the Rings Movie Poster

Epic Fantasy has gained the reputation of being the genre where nothing can happen for long periods of time and it’s readership will carry on reading in the hope that something awesome will happen the next page or the next or the next.

The Lord of the Rings

Epic Fantasy has been around for ever since The Lord of the Rings were published in 1954-55 and can be considered the granddaddy of epic fantasy.  The genre of fantasy has no doubt been around for a while longer although the splitting of novels into genre is only a recent development.  The Lord of the Rings was to be the sequel for J.R.R. Tolkien’s first novel, The Hobbit which had been considered a children’s book.  The publishers had expected a novel in a similar vein with a length of approximately 80k words.  Instead it took more than twelve years before they received the novel which had been completed as an adult’s novel and was approximately 400k words long instead.  Due to publishing restrictions at the time, the novel couldn’t be published in a single volume but had to be split into three novels.

Ever since then it seems as though when any fantasy story is written, the immediate length is to plan for a trilogy.  In fact, everything came out in trilogies including movies like Star Wars.  It sometimes felt as though the resolution was delayed due to the fact that it had to be a trilogy and not a stand-alone novel.

But even the Lord of the Rings had nothing happening for a long time before anything really exciting started to happen.  After all, the novel starts with the preparations for Bilbo Baggins’ eleventy-first birthday and then carries on for a while after Bilbo has disappeared from the Shire and left Frodo his inheritance, the one ring.  Even after Gandalf sends the hobbits on their way, the going was pretty slow until they finally found Strider in the town of Bree.

The Wheel of Time

It would appear that the new standard for Epic Fantasy is The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan.  The series started with a bang with the Eye of the World.  Yes, things seemed to take a while for the first few hundred pages  but after the Trollocs (trolls with added oc) attacked the Two Rivers and the youths left with Moiraine it sped up and seemed to carry on going until you finally found yourself in Sheinar with the Sheinarans defending against an attack by the Trollocs.

I thought I had struck gold.  I’d started reading the series when the first eleven novels were out and people were waiting for the twelfth book to come out.  If the next eleven books were as good as the first novel, it was going to be awesome.  Originally, RJ had said he believed the series could be finished in six books and then it changed to nine novels and then it was twelve.  And then he passed away tragically and fans of the series were left to wonder whether the series would ever be finished.  Brandon Sanderson was picked by RJ’s widow to complete the series.  The estimate changed from twelve novels to fourteen novels with the final novel only set to be released in 2012, about 22 years after the Eye of the World came out.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know my issues with the Wheel of Time and how I’m torn between abandoning it or to carry on reading and finish the series.  I’m currently busy with the tenth book and have almost finished it.  And do you know what’s happened?   Nothing of any great importance.  All the characters carry on from where they finished off at the end of book nine and it feels as though they’ll do the same in book eleven.

So what happened?  Why has the series become so bloated?  I believe the love of money has played a part in the series growing to such monstrous proportions that the story isn’t progressing any further.  The publisher saw the revenue stream generated by the novels and asked if it could be stretched just a little.  How about expanding on a story line here or there?

But it feels as though I’m so close to the end that I should just carry on.  I’ve basically read ten novels out of a probable fourteen (excluding the prequel) that it would be a waste of all the time I’d already sunk into the series not to see the end.

The Malazan Empire novels

Steven Erikson and Ian C Esselmount created a screenplay for a movie which had been turned down by all of the movie producers and so they turned to novels.  I believe the difference here, as stated before, is that Steven Erikson went with the proposal to complete ten novels in the series and as stated in a previous entry, the final entry in the series is coming out in March.  I honestly cannot comment on the full series and whether it drags or not as I’ve only finished the first novel but I’m hopeful that because the original plan had been for ten novels, the series won’t be dragged out.

The Way of Kings

The Stormlight Archive

The latest entry into the epic fantasy market is called The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson, RJ’s successor in completing the Wheel of Time.  I’ve almost finished the novel and can say that I’m thoroughly enjoying the story so far.  The plan is for ten novels and a part of me is hoping that the Stormlight Archives is not the successor to The Wheel of Time in dragging out a story for the longest possible time.  I’m hopeful that it won’t because according to what I’ve heard is that the Wheel of Time has picked up again after Brandon Sanderson has taken over.

The future

So where to from here?  Due to the publishing restrictions placed on new authors as discussed earlier it seems unlikely that a new author will be able to start a series.  The restriction of 100k words for a new author almost means that the epic fantasy genre is sealed off from any new authors until they can break into the publishing industry through maybe a subgenre of fantasy.

The Wheel of Time: To finish it or call it quits? – UPDATED

If you people have been following my blog you will know that I have something of a love-hate relationship with the series Wheel of Time.  Don’t get me wrong – it started like a house on fire and I believed there wasn’t a fantasy series which could be better (I’ve changed my mind for another series which other people either love or hate, the Malazan Empire series by Steven Erikson).  But with every book that passed, it become more and more of a labour to finish and to read to the point where it feels as though someone’s going to call out “These are the Days of our Lives”.

Towers of Midnight eBook cover

Unfortunately, Robert Jordan passed on before he could finish the series and the flame has been passed onto the more than capable Brandon Sanderson to finish.  According to Jordan there was only one book left in the series, although let’s be honest, he wasn’t the best judge of how long it would take to finish the series since he had originally estimated that it would only take six books to finish.  That increased to nine and then twelve and now the word is that it will be fourteen in total.

I’m at a crossroad because there is a part of me which wants to find out what will happen with Rand in the end, but there is another part which is telling me to give it up and find out on online synopsis.

I managed to read the first five novels but something changed in the sixth book and I couldn’t force myself through it.  Eventually I got the audiobook and finished it and soon followed it with seven through nine.  But the ninth book seemed to drag and I hear ten and eleven are even worse.  So there is also the question whether I should just skip the next two novels and go straight to The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight where the series picks up again.

I thought the best thing would be is to put it up to popular opinion to see whether I should finish it, leave it or skip to Book 12.

Update:  I eventually decided to carry on with the series and am currently busy with Book Ten.  Admittedly, it does drag a bit but it doesn’t feel as bad as I had remembered.  But it is early days and there are so few books left, I may as well power through.

Rugby player movements and my other interests

Monty Dumond
Monty Dumond


Well, the end of the domestic season has arrived and there is only the final international games left before the southern hemisphere rugby season closes and the time has started for player movements between unions and to clubs overseas.  I suppose the important ones are the transfers which affect my team, The Sharks.  Skipper Badenhorst and Monty Dumond are both making the move to the Free State Cheetahs.  Dumond will be making the move temporarily and will only be used during the Super 14 before he comes back to the Sharks for the Currie Cup.

Skipper Badenhorst
Skipper Badenhorst

To be honest, Skipper Badenhorst in my opinion is welcome to move along.  He has been a servant for the Sharks but is a true journeyman having played at so many other unions before coming to the Sharks and to be honest he is our third choice hooker behind Springbok incumbent Bismark Du Plessis and converted wing, Craig Burden.  He will be better used by the Cheetahs as their second choice hooker.  Good luck to him.

The Springboks, or should I say South Africa, played a game against the Leicester Tigers and it was very embarrassing.  Admittedly, these guys were our second string team with our first choice resting after a very long and successful season and hadn’t played together at all before the game.  But to be so destroyed is humiliating for the players.  Chilliboy Ralapelle was the captain for the evening and only played twenty minutes before being subbed out.  It’s a pity because I rate Chilliboy and he really isn’t getting enough game time.

I heard during the week he was linked to a move from the Bulls to the Lions where he would be both first choice and captain and I actually hoped that it was true because it would finally allow him to get the game time and experience needed.  But both sides have denied that he will be moving, which is a real pity.  But I can hope it’s all smoke and mirrors, like the Heinrich Brussouw incident – he isn’t coming to the Sharks by the way.

Books and writing

As always I have been doing quite a bit of reading and the book that I have finished last was Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol.   I did enjoy it for a while but when I reached the final hundred pages my interest waned and I really had to push myself to get through it.  My favorite book of his was Angels and Demons and it seems as though he has followed the same formula in the books he has written since (Da Vinci Code and The Lost Symbol).

Robert Jordan’s The Gathering Storm has been released lately.  One of the books I’m reading at the moment is Robert Jordan’s Lord of Chaos.  It’s the sixth book in his Wheel of Time series and it’s become a drag, a chore, to get through it.  I loved the first book in the series, The Eye of the World, but it feels as though the publishing house wanted more and more and he had to drag it out more and more for revenue purposes.  I really wondering if I should even try to get to the end of the series.  Robert Jordan has passed on, unfortunately, before he could finish his work but had stated that book 12 would be the last book in the series and would be called A Memory of Light.  Brandon Sanderson was tipped to complete it and I’m sure he did his best to ensure it was up to the same standard as the rest of the standard.  But the problem is that the final book has been stretched to three books.  Is it something which Brandon Sanderson could have avoided?  I doubt it.  He has said that he tried to finish all of the story threads which had been left hanging at the end of the last book.  But I can’t help but wonder if maybe some of those threads weren’t meant to be tied off?  Just a thought.

Pecan Hill and Spoil the Child

Still no movement on Pecan Hill, but I have to honest and say that I haven’t sent through any more queries for it.  I’m trying to perfect my query before I send it on to other agents.

My work is still going on with Spoil the Child.  I reached a point where I was stuck as to where I wanted to go with the story but it was while I was driving home the other day and listening to the beginning of Stephen King’s Just After Sunset when he was reading from Arthur Mocken’s The Great God Pan (I’m not sure if I got the spelling right) that I had a flash of inspiration.  I know which direction I want to head, but now I just have to get there.