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The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time
Robert Jordan & Teresa Patterson
Tor Books, 320 pages

The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time
Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan is the pseudonym of American writer James Oliver Rigney, Jr., who has also written as Regan O'Neal, Jackson O'Reilly, and Chang Lung. A lifelong resident of Charleston, SC, Robert Jordan was born in 1948. He served two tours of duty in Vietnam (from 1968-70), earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Bronze star. Following that, he entered the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina, where he received a degree in physics and went on to be employed by the Navy as a nuclear engineer. While hospitalized with an injury, he thought he could probably write as well as the authors he had been reading during his recovery. He has been writing ever since.

ISFDB Bibliography
The Complete Wheel of Time Index
Wheel of Time Links
Yahoo's List of Jordan Sites
Books Summaries
Wheel of Time Fan Art

Past Feature Reviews
A review by James Seidman

If you have been reading Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series, you know what a rich and intricate world Jordan has created. Thus it is no great surprise that this best-selling series has spawned a companion book, aptly titled The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time.

This book is quite an impressive piece of work. Rather than merely regurgitating the contents of the series, it contains a fair amount of material that has never been revealed before. Of course, much of the information does come from the series. As a result, I wouldn't recommend this book to anyone who hasn't already read at least the first six books in the series, as it could give away much of the plot.

The book almost takes the form of a social studies textbook, with the "present day" being at the end of the seventh book of the series. The first third discusses history, from the Age of Legends through the Aiel War. It includes a lot of fascinating information, such as backgrounds on the Forsaken (did you know Moghedien was an investment advisor?) and the origin of the Aes Sedai Ajahs. This section provides a good basis to understand the context of some of the series' references.

About a fifth of the book is devoted to the Ogier and the areas outside of the main continent where the books take place. If you ever wanted to understand the history of the Seanchan or who really makes Sea Folk porcelain, this section will provide the answers. This section also covers some miscellaneous topics like the Ways and Tel'aran'rhiod.

Most of the remainder of the book describes the nations and peoples of the main continent, including institutions like the White Tower and the Whitecloaks. I personally found this section the least interesting, as it was mostly a rehash of material from the series. I would recommend using this as reference material rather than actually trying to read through it.

Many of the people who buy companion books do so more for the artwork than for the text. Sadly, the book disappoints in this area. I had hoped that Darrell K. Sweet, the renowned artist who created the book jackets for the series, would do the interior illustrations for this book as well. Instead, Todd Cameron Hamilton has created a series of amateurish, coarse, and uninspired drawings. Reproductions of Sweet's jackets in the middle of the book make the difference in talent even more depressingly obvious.

Hamilton has created images of the major characters, creatures, and things, but I found myself trying not to look. Lanfear, described as one of the most beautiful women alive, looks like a vampire. Lan Mandragoran, whose face is supposed to look like "it was carved from stone," instead is drawn like a Neanderthal who is retaining water. I do not think I will be able to read about Thom Merrilin ever again without Hamilton's pallid, greenish drawing of him popping into my mind like an image of a nauseous corpse. In some cases, like his illustration of the White Tower, he goes beyond mere lack of talent to actually contradicting the description in the book. The artwork is an embarrassment to Tor, and a mockery of the wonderful world Jordan has created.

Despite the pathetic art, this book is one that every diehard Jordan fan will want to have. While owning this book is certainly not necessary to enjoy Jordan's books, it provides wonderful insight into the past and the present of the denizens of The Wheel of Time.

Copyright © 1997 James Seidman

James Seidman is a busy technology manager at a Fortune 100 company, who needs the excuse of doing book reviews to give himself time to read. He lives with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and twenty-seven fish in Naperville, Illinois.

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