"The End of the Last Book of the Wheel of Time."
Is it sad that reading those words made me want to cry? I would tend not to think so. I cry pretty easily, not something a man tends to be proud of, but I think in this instance it isn't a man that wants to. When I first read The Eye of the World, I wasn't a man. I was in Seventh Grade, Middle School, for those who aren't familiar with the system, and I was astounded. Not because of the book. Believe me, it was a wonderful read, and I loved everything about it, but the book wasn't what had astounded me. It was that the person who had caught me in the Library, handed me the book, and said, "Read this" was one of the people I hadn't thought of as someone who read for pleasure. One of the cool kids in school. You know the type. Bleached spiked up hair, that irritatingly square jaw that girls seem to flock to, whatever the age, athletic ability that nerdy, somewhat narcissistic teenage boys tend to envy, once again because of the girls. Shorts in the winter, sandals with socks on. Typical, self-confident jock. Yet this jackass had the temerity to hand me a book and say, "This book is awesome. My brother told me to read it and it's awesome. You like this fantasy stuff, don't you?"
It irked me, to be sure. Yet once the nerd gauntlet had been thrown down, I had to pick it up. No faux-blond jock was going to read a fantasy book I hadn't read and discarded as drivel! So I read it. And I was astounded. Because that faux-blond jock had taste. Because the book was good. It was really good! Up until then I had only torn through the Dragonlance series, devoured anything I could get my hands on by Terry Brooks, and was charging through the Belgariad. I had of course only forayed into Fantasy because I had exhausted my local library's supply of Science Fiction, despite that comfortable contempt the Sci-Fi junkie feels towards the genre, because really anything was better than reading...Nonfiction.
So I was shocked to find that this handsome, athletically gifted young man had given me a book to read, and had been right. Shocking because I could out-think him the way he could beat me to a pulp. Yet he had summoned the stuff to read The Eye of the World? It was enough. I loved the series. I took my time with the rest, gobbling them in between homework and practicing my clarinet. Because yes, I was that cool. I waited with eager anticipation for Winter's Heart, and while i waited that first meeting still tramped about in the back of my mind. That this kid who was supposed to be my rival, my archnemesis, also loved this series. I'm a rational being. I don't go in for things that require faith in something that I can't at least interact with on some level. One of those irritating folks that believes that nothing is beyond the scope of human understanding. Yet, if I were a believer, I would have said that that one meeting was preordained. That some unfathomable force had reached down and flicked some sort of cosmic marble and sent it bumping in just such a way as to land this book in my hands, and at the same time teach me something about human nature best explained by an old adage. "Never judge a book by it's cover."
So, when I finished reading the last book of the Wheel of Time half an hour ago, I wanted to cry. It wasn't me, though. Not the adult me. Well, adult-ish. It was that goofy thirteen year old who still half-believed in miracles, who had just found out that maybe some of the people you stand against are people you should stand with, that boy who still believed in magic, maybe even dared to hope that some ancient tome of power would land in his hands. That was what ached at the core of my being. Because an ancient tome of power had fallen into his hands. And he didn't even know it until the story ended.
I love the Wheel of Time. I grew up with it as it progressed. I hope that someday I'll have kids to give it to. It's part of me now, just the same way as the boy is.
So it's okay to cry because it's over. Even if it isn't. After all, it's in the book.
"The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages Come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again."
The Wheel of Time will come again, in bits and pieces of stories written by other authors, people who as children read the Wheel of Time and made it a part of themselves. Those of us who read them will be tempted to feel outrage that someone dared to use THAT idea. But that idea, or this idea, or really any idea, doesn't belong to just one series. I hope instead we'll read, give a quiet nod, and mumble, "Good to see you again. I missed you."