The Wheel of Time Companion

This is not a “frugal” review, and is not really a review. More of a concurrence with another’s review of The Wheel of Time Companion. At $21.99 (I paid a couple bucks less, at the final pre-order price to get it on the release date), it is not a cheap read, though for a hardcover of its size it’s not so bad. The thing is, it’s a combined collectible and reference for the avid fan, rather than something with inherent story value. Guess I should add a category for reference works here.

“It’s a dictionary” was exactly my first reaction. There are some cool entires. I was tickled by the entry for Bela, and with some of the clarified details on characters. However, as the linked review notes, it is little more than what we either know from reading the series, or could glean from the glossaries that appeared in the series (or could find in a wiki). I, too, have found things that could have been elaborated on were not. Things that could have been organized for ease of reference or comparison were not. I can’t remember what it was, but I found at least one thing I tried to look up was completely absent.

I was intensely glad I did not buy it in Kindle format, but as a collectible, I would never have done that. It would be ridiculous to peruse – and it is for perusing, not flat out reading – in electronic format with no appropriate aid to navigation.

Perhaps my biggest disappointment was the wonderful art by Ariel Burgess not being in color. I’d already seen much of it elsewhere and was a big fan, looking forward to seeing it in the book. I would also have loved improved maps, rather than reprints from the books, albeit all in one volume.

I don’t really regret the purchase. I would have done so even had I know the book was not to be what I had imagined. I am that much a fan of The Wheel of Time. I am enjoying having it sitting by my chair and picking it up periodically to thumb through or to look up items it occurs to me to, well, see if they did a decent job on, at this point.

But I still find it hard to believe that something years in the making, meant to be the crowning glory, was as ill-considered as it seems to have been. It makes no sense. Clearly plenty of effort went into it. And sure, it is a way to rake in more money for the estate and publisher, and a way to throw some public glory as well as additional work to Robert Jordan’s assistants. It’s just… it could have been amazing. It’s not.

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