What do Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, Tad Williams’ Otherland series and Peter F Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn Trilogy have in common?
…I’ve had a sudden thought that I should really end this post here, go away, wait to see what responses there are, what connections are made before I continue! But that would be cruel 🙂 (smiles cruelly)
You could say they are all from the Science Fiction or Fantasy genre and you’d be right. You could say they are all part of a rather epic series and you’d be right also. In fact the late Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series is theoretically twelve but actually fourteen books. Tad Williams’ Otherland series has four books and Peter F Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn has three. Williams and Hamilton also have multiple other series in their back catalogue also. Robert Jordan may have but I’m unaware of any.
You could thrown in a ball from left field and say they are all written by men…unless any have an extremely well kept secret and are actually the aliases of women writers! They’re not.
Time to spill the beans. What these three have in common is that I have read the first book in each series but have not progressed any further. Actually that’s not strictly true, I have glanced at the first few pages of the second book in each series and then put each down again promising myself I would read them in due course but knowing there was a strong risk this would never happen.
Why do I stop after the first? Several reasons although lack of interest or desire aren’t among them.
First, I’m a slow reader, sometimes a very slow reader so have to be choosy about what I read. It can take me a month or longer to read a book someone else could polish off in a week or less. I don’t know why I read slowly, its just the way I am.
Second, I’m not one of those people who can plough through a whole series without a break for something else. I need variety or I will likely get book lag, become tired of too much immersion in one world. I need something probably lighter and shorter in between. I say inbetween, clearly I’ve never got to the other side of inbetween, in other words, onto the second in a series.
Third, I think its quite possible I could spend the rest of my life in one series and never be able to read anything else!
Fourth, each volume in an epic series, certainly in the Science Fiction/Fantasy genres, tends to be lengthy. They generally aren’t like, say, crime novels where although a series may be lengthy in itself, the individual titles can be reasonably short, or maybe I should say ‘normal’ length.
But the main reason is my inability to read any faster than slow. Sometimes I try to force my mind into a faster speed but I end up reading what I’ve just read because I haven’t taken anything in. Kind of defeats the purpose if you have to re-read as you go.
This is why I wish I could speed read. If I could zoom through a book fairly fast but still take in the story I’d get through more than the first book in an epic series. I’ve always held the assumption that to speed read would mean missing half the story, whizzing over carefully written sentences and missing the different little bits of details that frequently produce the magic of the story. Do speed readers miss the bits where you’d normally stop and re-read and think wow, that’s was amazing? Those moments where you stop to allow your mind to sink into and enjoy the feeling you get from a certain passage? I may be totally wrong but to me the very existence of the word ‘speed’ in ‘speed reading’ implies missing certain bits in a blur. But I’d still like to give it a go.
I know of people who say they re-read books in a series before the next comes out so they get the sense of continuity. I knew someone who did this with Robert Jordan’s series when I worked in a book store a lifetime ago. I can understand reading quickly through a book you’ve already read as you already know the story so maybe that’s a form of speed reading, perhaps more like skimming.
I remember reading on the back cover of Jordan’s first Wheel of Time book, The Eye of the World, a reviewer saying they had “Read it in three days and will queue for the sequel.” Those words have always baffled me because I could never get through a book that length in three days. I can’t imagine someone being able to immerse themselves properly in an 800+ page book in just three days.
Anyway, I do sometimes wonder if I will ever manage to finish a series. Possibly Robert Jordan’s series is out of my reach but Williams and Hamilton, purely because there are less books in those series, are a better possibility. In the absence of speed reading however, its going to be a long journey.
Thanks for reading.