Forget The Wheel of Time Amazon Series; here we talk books, and I’m covering this long and interesting high fantasy series.
Precisely, the largest high fantasy book series.
The series was written by the American author, James Oliver Rigney Jr., under the pen name Robert Jordan. Rigney tells an epic fantasy story interwoven with themes of magic, love or romance, and danger.
To guide you through the series, I’ve listed the order in which all 14 Wheel of Time books (plus the prequel) were published, reviewed the top 5 books, and added a few WOT FAQs.
And… the reviews have fewer spoilers this time, I promise.
But before that! Let’s learn a thing or two about the author of the Wheel of Time.
Top 3 Wheel of Time Books
Robert Jordan: The Genius Behind the 14 Wonders
Robert Jordan, whose real name is James Oliver Rigney Jr., was born on October 17, 1948, in Charleston, South Carolina.
He dropped out of Clemson University to enlist in the U.S. Army. James died a distinguished vet, with two tours served in Vietnam as a helicopter gunner. His military honors include two Vietnamese Crosses of Gallantry, the Bronze Star with “V” and oak leaf cluster, and the Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster.
After his two tours, he went to The Military College of South Carolina, The Citadel, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1974. Following his graduation, James became a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy.
In 1977, James Rigney Jr. fell from a submarine and shattered his leg and knee. He needed something to pass the time, so he started writing. His first novel, The Fallon Blood, was published by Popham Press in 1980, a publishing company owned by his soon-to-be wife, Harriet McDougal.
Rigney died on September 16, 2007, before he could finish the series, only managing to finish 11 books in the Wheel of Time series. The final three novels of the 14-book series—The Gathering Storm (2009), Towers of Midnight (2010), and A Memory of Light (2012)—were written by Brandon Sanderson, and he did an amazing job.
The two continued publishing together, with McDougal retaining her editorial role for Rigney’s entire career.
George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones author, praised Jordan’s writing style, saying, “His huge, ambitious Wheel of Time book series helped redefine the genre.”
Perhaps that proves that Jordan did inspire both the average reader and writers as great as Martin.
All “15” Wheel of Time Books In Order
Prequel: New Spring
- The Eye of the World (1990)
- The Great Hunt (1990)
- The Dragon Reborn (1991)
- The Shadow Rising (1992)
- The Fires of Heaven (1993)
- Lord of Chaos (1994)
- A Crown of Swords (1996)
- The Path of Daggers (1998)
- Winters Heart (2000)
- Crossroads of Twilight (2003)
- Knife of Dreams (2005)
- The Gathering Storm (2009)
- Towers of Midnight (2010)
- A Memory of Light (2012)
The Best 5 Wheel of Time books
The Wheel of Time book series is long, with a lot of plot twists and frustratingly slow buildups that somehow lead to more-than-exciting climaxes. The following are the five best books that embody these characteristics.
1. The Shadow Rising
This book is not just the best in the series but arguably the best Jordan has ever written. I have not seen his other books outside of this series. I might be wrong, but I still stand by my claim.
And, for many readers, the thing about this series is that it gets better and better with each book.
So, others might say the last books are the best, but this installment just “hits all the right notes.” In this book, Robert Jordan—with unmatched artistry—splits up the characters and puts them into mini-stories.
Parts involving the Aiel Waste with Rand explored the Aiel culture and history, with sections jumping to earlier timelines to explain current things. There are also some side-quests with Perrin.
And we also see Nynaeve, who was also orphaned at the age of 14, grow into a powerful force in the story.
Then there’s the White Tower portion of the miniseries, which, if I’m not spilling spoilers, came with a few surprises of its own.
2. The Great Hunt (1990)
This is the sequel to The Eye Of The World. I liked it because the pacing was far better than in Book 1, and that was kind of a relief (and I know I’m speaking for most WOT readers).
Readers have criticized the first book, claiming “it was hard to finish.” In The Great Hunt, things become more interesting and clearer.
There is so much improvement from Book 1 here. The world-building becomes more fascinating, and we get to know more about “The White Tower,” and we peek into “The Age of Legends.”
A good story always has conflict, and Jordan gave the story more foes and gave them more depth than just a plain enemy.
The main characters are also given more depth. For example, Egwene develops a lot in this book, and we can see that she’s going to play a greater role in the series.
3. The Dragon Reborn (1991)
The Dragon Reborn is the third book in the Wheel of Time book series.
The Dragon Reborn is one of the best in the series as far as intensity and pacing are concerned. I think, out of all the books in the series (the ones written by Jordan), this is the most intense and the fastest.
I have nothing else to say, so I’m just going to drop a couple of spoiler bombs. Rand’s mental state fluctuates as he once again reflects on life. He begins to question himself and his role as the hero.
Mat grows from a character that nobody really cared about to one of the best characters. As a matter of fact, he was in the fight scene of this installment and rescued Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne.
Ah, I’m out of spoilers and kudos, but overall, it’s a wonderful read.
4. Lord of Chaos (1994)
This is book number 6 in the Wheel of Time book series. While the other five books were intriguing, this one leaves a mark.
The tide is about to turn, and the “dragon reborn” doesn’t seem to have it together. Again!
Rand again takes center stage as he tries to deal with the manipulative Aes Sedai. He is captured by the Red Ajah and he is anguished and broken. And as is the case in a few WOT books, Rand’s battles are both physical and mental.
With this, Jordan calmly built the story to a satisfying climactic end—and this, for a lot of readers, is the story that convinced them that WOT was an extraordinary epic fantasy.
5. The Gathering Storm (2013)
This is the thirteenth book in the series. It is the second of the final three written by Brandon Sanderson.
The skeptics were concerned that the storyline would not do Robert Jordan justice.
Boy! Were they in for a surprise? Sanderson proved himself worthy of this gargantuan task as the author of this series by giving us a slick transition from Jordan’s writing style to his own.
The Foreword, wow! Those words from Brandon will touch your very soul.
The whole story is about reuniting the kingdoms and forming alliances to fight in the Last Battle. There are so many powerful scenes and so many exciting characters in this book, but I have to give it to Egwene for showing her brilliance and her resoluteness in the face of chaos.
Wheel of Time Books FAQs
Should the Wheel of Time books be read in order?
The Wheel of Time books are not stand-alone novels. To some extent, the prequel is self-contained, but it is recommended that readers begin with The Eye of the World, book one of the series.
When should I read New Spring (the WOT prequel)?
You should read the prequel after book five. Although it’s a standalone fantasy story, it takes place within the WOT world.
What is considered the best Wheel of Time book?
It’s up for debate. The Rising Shadow is the best, according to our valuation. But others will tell you that they think The Lord of Chaos should be number one, and so many others will mention other WOT books.
Are the last three books good?
Yes, Brandon Sanderson did a very good job of writing the final three books. In the foreword of The Gathering Storm, Sanderson brilliantly said, “I have not tried to imitate Mr. Jordan’s style. Instead, I’ve adapted my style to be appropriate to The Wheel of Time.”
Who is the best character in the Wheel of Time series?
Again, this is also subjective. We think it’s Rand, but other readers have their favorites. I’d agree if someone said Mat because I see him as a free-spirited, notorious, and witty young man.
James Oliver Rigney Jr. left us a gem of a story. The Wheel of Time book series is undoubtedly among the best high/epic fantasy books of all time.
Jordan’s writing will have you picking up the next book right after finishing another—and that is despite the length and number of books.
Before you devour the TV series, I would advise you to read the books. After all, books are always better.
“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend.”