By Linda Taglieri,
I started reading The Wheel of Time soon after my eldest child was born. He is now twenty. So while I can’t say that I grew up with the books, my children can. Both my sons have only ever known me as a WOT fan. My elder son became a fan himself at age ten when I read him an Uno scene from one afternoon, ironically as an illustration that the series was a little too old for him to appeal. He quietly annexed and was well into the book before I knew. Even my younger son who has never read any of the books found a WOT quote from an online collection for my birthday card this month. (Something about better to have one woman on your side…) In 1999 I took both boys with me to one of Robert Jordan’s sadly few book signings in Sydney. I was delighted to meet RJ, and wish that I had been able to do so more than that one brief time.
So what is it about The Wheel of Time that inspires such a strong fan base? That question has been asked of me before; in fact I attempted to answer it at WorldCon just last month. First and foremost I guess it’s the theories born of the author’s carefully withheld information—even the most casual reader has at least one to expound upon. The elaborate magic system too enthralls fans. Then there’s the characterisation. So many characters arouse passionate reactions in readers, whether for or against. If they live in peoples’ minds and hearts like this, they are special creations indeed. On the surface The Wheel of Time is a great yarn, but underneath is a tremendous depth of symbolism and allusions to history, religions, folklore and myths.
It was wanting to discuss my theories and the allusions I had uncovered which lured me onto the internet in 2002. I guess you could say that The Wheel of Time has had ta’veren luck in its timeliness. It was published as the internet was taking hold and almost right from the start WOT fandom has been heavily involved in internet discussion. Great fan sites were established in the late nineties which are still going. I was Wheel of Time admin at the Wotmania website for five years. One of the first things I posted about there was that Moridin might be Taim, a theory I’ve had since was released. Since then I’ve written hundreds—well, more like thousands—of pages of discussion and articles on subjects as varied as weaves and Talents of the One Power, Fool and Joker symbolism in the series, the real world influence on Wheel of Time costume and that Rand really will perform nine impossible deeds in Hercules-like fashion, with more (yes, more!) in the planning. The Wheel of Time even infiltrated my embroidery this last year when I was making a study of Chinese embroidery techniques and motifs.
I could go on. And have!
The social aspect of fan sites is hard to beat, but I had considered having my own site and when I heard that Wotmania was closing I was spurred to establish the Thirteenth Depository blog and forum with Dominic. Running a website is even more demanding than being an admin (basic requirements being an unlimited supply of energy, enthusiasm, WOT knowledge and craziness) but immensely rewarding.
How do you know when your interest in The Wheel of Time is perhaps reaching the hard core fan event horizon? Speaking from experience, it’s when you start making lists: of items, suspicious characters, suggestive names, unanswered questions, one power strength…
I have made wonderful friends through The Wheel of Time, and attended some really fun gatherings. Conventions such as JordanCon and DragonCon seemed the epitome of these to me, a wistful onlooker from thousands of miles away. Certainly they have brought WOT fandom even closer together and kudos to the organisers of these excellent events. It was to attend JordanCon that I ventured solo to the States for the first time this year, the first time in a long while, thanks to child-rearing, that I had been overseas, and I had such a great time that I aim to go back in 2011.
What a part of my life The Wheel of Time is and has been, and the amazing thing is that so many other readers can say the same.
Linda Taglieri runs the Wheel of Time blog and discussion forum ‘,’ and you can find her on the dedication page of Towers of Midnight (ISBN: 0-7653-2594-2; November 2nd, 2010) .
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More from the Wheel of Time edition newsletter:
- by Jason Denzel,
- by Matt Hatch,
- by Justin Golenbock, aka Tor’s “Wheel of Time guy”
- by Laura Sedai, Sitter of the Ochre Ajah