For those of you who don’t follow such things, an enormous event has recently taken place in the world of fantasy fiction. The final book of the Wheel of Time series has been published. For some, this will be old news. For others, it’s not such a big deal. But it’s actually pretty impressive.
The series was first published in 1990. It has since sold tens of millions of copies. The final six books have each hit number one on the New York Times best seller list. It has an enormous fan following on the Internet. And the author died before the end of the series, leaving the job of finishing it to another. But anyway…if you’re into fantasy, you’ve probably encountered it. If you’re not, it’s probably not for you.
We planned to buy a digital copy of the book because we are both big fans and wanted to read it simultaneously. Unfortunately, the ebook won’t be released till April, to avoid eating into hard copy sales. So we were faced with a choice – choose who got to read it first, or read it aloud to each other.
We decided to go with the second choice. We’d done the same with the final Harry Potter book and quite enjoyed it. It was really relaxing slowing down again and reading to each other. It’s very different to watching a movie together – I found we interacted more. It’s been lovely turning the tv off (or muting the cricket) and sitting down to read a story to each other. It took us seventeen days, but we did it.
There were a few challenges though. Firstly, a very active 14-month old. We had no option but to read while our son was asleep, which made for late nights (followed by early mornings…gah…). It’s also meant the laundry has been planning a coup with the washing up. I think the dust bunnies may be in on the plot too.
Secondly, I’ve realised why we read stories to children at night. Aside from the numerous educational benefits, it’s relaxing. Very, very relaxing. We’ve gone through a lot of coffee while we’ve read to each other. There was still the odd moment when the person being read to would need to re-read a section that they’d zoned out through.
Thirdly – one of the challenges of reading a fantasy series aloud that you’ve both read to yourselves is different pronunciation of names. We didn’t come to blows over it, but there were some…discussions over the appropriate way to pronounce the names of key characters.
Finally – I often get my words tangled when I talk. It’s even worse when I read. This led to some quite amusing results. A Waygate became a Waygoat. Lanfear became Landfill. An evil mace became evil mice. The later it got, the less coherent my reading was. The less coherent I was, the more hysterical the giggles were. The more hysterical the giggles, the less coherent I was…and so on.
Despite these challenges, I’ve really loved sitting down on the couch reading to my beloved. It’s a highlight of an excellent holiday period. We’ve felt more connected than if we’d read it separately. I’m glad to have read the ending, but sad to have finished this time. I think we’ll have to find something else to read to each other now.
But maybe something with less complex words. Hairy Maclary is looking good.