Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Is The Wheel of Time going to go the same way as Dune?

Not content with milking A Memory of Light for all it's worth, there are now mutterings that Tor are considering expanding the WoT series with some further novels that are separate from the main sequence.

Robert Jordan allegedly signed a contract for three prequels, of which only the first - New Spring - has been written and published. He also started discussing the possibility of a sequence called The Outriggers which would continue some major developments after the main WoT sequence had ended. So, we're looking at potentially two further prequels and any number of sequels to the original series.

I'm no fan of WoT, but this doesn't sit well with me. Getting Brandon Sanderson to write A Memory of Light based on Jordan's detailed notes is one thing, but writing a whole slew of new novels - presumably without such detailed notes - is completely different. To be blunt, it has the unmistakable whiff of dead horse about it and gives the impression that Tor are prepared to squeeze every last drop out of their star franchise, even if it means tarnishing the series' reputation even further.

Yes, publishing is a business - I get it. We hear this time and time again. I accept it. But it's a shame to see such a popular series be so exploited. No doubt there'll be a load of 'we're doing this for the fans' malarkey, but I wonder how much weight such statements will carry with a fanbase that has already voiced protest at the splitting of A Memory of Light into three volumes.

Perhaps a more pertinent question - how many of the fans actually want these novels? Correct me if I'm wrong, but New Dawn - the one prequel that Jordan did write - received a very lukewarm response and sold poorly compared to the main books. Will the new novels - if they are commissioned - go down any better? The decision to get Sanderson to finish WoT was not met with universal approval, so how will objecting fans feel if he writes more novels in the same universe? For the record Sanderson has already stated that he will write the two other prequels and the Outriggers novels, if asked.

No blame for this possible expansion beyond the original series can be laid at Sanderson's door - he's made his feelings clear: "I don't want to see the Wheel of Time turn into an eternal franchise. I said this last weekend at my signing in Montreal. Part of the value of a great work of art is, in my opinion, the ending. An ending loses power if it isn’t allowed to be…well, the END." He qualifies this by adding, "I have told Harriet, and I have repeated it on blogs, that I would say no (though it would hurt to do so) if a decision were made to go beyond the Outriggers and the prequels." Top bloke, Brandon Sanderson.

The fear remains though that - if these new novels are written and published, and if they sell well enough - future volumes could be commissioned with a different author if Sanderson sticks to his guns. The question then would be - what will happen to the integrity of one of fantasy's best-loved series? Well, it would probably suffer a similar fate to Dune, which has become a total and utter joke.

The real cynics out there might argue that WoT already has become a bit of a joke, and that would be partly true. But I can't help feeling that these further novels would just cheapen the series a whole lot more.

Thoughts? Any WoT fans out there who have strong feelings on this (either in support or against these potential new novels?). Interested to hear your thoughts...


T.D. Newton said...

Tor = Nintendo
WoT = Super Mario Bros.

The Reader said...

Hi James

Tor is indeed going to milk WOT for its entire money's worth. This was obvious from the moment when they officially decided to publish the last book into 3 volumes.

The outrigger novels if you notice, they aren't mentioning the number of books in it, whats to say after they are finished with one character, they wont go after another?

Plus there's also the prequel novels which hopefully are only 2, but I;m sure there might be more popping up.

In the end it doesn't affect me personally as I'm not a fan of WOT, gave up on the series after books 6-7.

logankstewart said...

I've never read WoT, though I've toyed with the notion more than once. The series is enormous and has a huge following, so I thought that there must be some meat to it. Unfortunately, I've read several flaws and problems with the books, too, so I'm just not sure. Maybe one day when I've caught up on my reading list...

OnlyTheBestSciFi/Fantasy said...

Having read Jason's review of AMOL on the Dragonmount forums, I am actually excited to have Brandon writing the books, since Jason claims they rank high up there in the series.

You make it sound like continuing a series always turns out bad, but until proof to the contrary I am going to have to stick with Brandon and Tor on this one. The outriggers will be centered on Mat and Tuon if I am not mistaken, which is something I would love to read.

Splitting AMOL into three books would have happened, in my opinion, even if RJ were still with us. There really is just too much of the series left for only one book--although I could imagine two doing it.

I won't deny that I need some closure on this series and will be happy when its finished (and yes, the split decision involved money I am sure). But I also won't feel compelled to pick up the Outriggers or prequels just because they are 'WoT Universe' books.

Mark said...

I have been a big fan of the WOT series since the first novel. I was slightly dismayed when TOR announced that AMOL was going to be split into three novels....I mean talk about a milking a series for all it's worth, this is after the original trilogy turned into 6 books then a promised 10 and then finally 11 books with a promised last 12th book which is now an extra 3 books WTF!

On a business level you can understand, Tor need to make money out of the final book(s), and I understand from a recent interview that TOR paid a very handsome advance for the final book and the 'outrigger trilogy'. so they at least will wont some serious monetary pay back!!

Having checked out Sanderson's novels in the mean-time I was quite glad he was chosen to finish it off (I‘m sure he will do a fantastic job) -obviously the proof will be when the books are published - the jury will no doubt be out on just how good they are?

In terms of the 'out-trigger novels,' Tom Doherty (TOR) is very keen to see this series written and it is down to Harriet (Jordan's wife) to make the ultimate decision. Lets face it, if the last three books sell well...and they will, I have no doubt...I think it's almost a done deal...

Personally, I think AMOL should be it! Sanderson has said there isn't enough plot material available for the out-trigger novels only (extensive notes), which to me isn’t the same thing.

So anything written after AMOL without considerable plot notes will cease to be a Jordan novel, and just be someone writing in the WOT world. Fingers crossed it won't happen!!

Sorry for the rant!

Adam Whitehead said...

Robert Jordan said that the outriggers will be three books, so we're looking at five books beyond the MEMORY OF LIGHT trilogy.

Of the outriggers, we know that one followed Mat and Tuon in Seanchan. The other one, I have a very strong suspicion based on dialogue in Knife of Dreams, was going to be the story of the Band of the Red Hand in Murandy (Talmanes is going to tell Mat about it, then decides to 'save it for later'). The third one is unknown.

Anonymous said...

Eric van Lustbader has written a new Jason Bourne novel despite the death of Ludlum, Alistair MacLean 'wrote' novels long after his demise as have many other authors. Jane Marple appears in the TV adaptations of several Agatha Christies even though she was never in the original books. If you're on a money making idea, flog it to death. - Ian

Anonymous said...

The series absolutely had to be finished! Now the speculation on the franchise being about money is valid but what about the story lines. James Rigney is to be commended and has been lauded for the rich development of lore and storylines that make WoT so engrossing. Many recall how wordy books 5 through 9 got as opposed to action and climaxes but the result was still richness and fullness of character and plot. There are so many stories left to be told... al la Forgotten Realms or Star wars by a plethora of great authors and collaborations...

I for one would pay top dollar to soak and enjoy:

The Melkier downfall of A'lan Mandragorians kin, his brother, his father, and his uncles battles in the blight.

The full story of Menetharion's fall in the Trolloc wars.

Hawkwing's armies across the seas and his decendants against the armies of the night, the callaring of the rouge aes sedai.

Jain Farstrider's adventures we hear so much about but are never told.

The lost princess of andor... the Aes Sedai who becomes a Maiden of the Spear, Tam al'Thor and his finding of Rand.

While some should remain a part of our imagination, there is certainly more story and sub-plot to be told in the same rich way.

Lanfear said...

I just want to say that I have been a very big fan of the books. As much as I would love to have the prequels and the Outriggers, I just don't think that they should be done by anyone but RJ.

I beleive that the only reason TOR wants them made is for the money. But that is not why RJ signed the contract. These books were his life and eventhough i can't speak for him, i don't think he really wanted to end. But not for the money

Don't get me wrong, Brandon did a great job on The Gathering Storm and I'm sure he will do great on the other 2 but we need to just bring it to an end, as much as its going to depressing do have to say goodby to our beloved charactors.