Books and Booze – The Wheel of Time (Guest Post by AC Cobble)
***Warning: this article contains spoilers for The Wheel of Time!***
Hi. I am AC Cobble.
If you’ve read my books, you know I’m a huge fan of Robert Jordan. I started my series, Benjamin Ashwood, in much the same way Jordan starts The Wheel of Time. My opening is meant as a tip’o’the hat to the man that inspired me. Robert Jordan’s opening really nails everything that I love about fantasy, and then there are 13 more books.
Yeah, 14 total books. Long ones. Wikipedia tells me it’s 4,410,000 words – or if you prefer audio, it will take you 19 days, 5 hours, and 25 minutes to listen to it. That’s epic!
Over the years, the books have been lauded as the best fantasy since Tolkien, and bashed as some of the worst drivel since – well – since ever. Let me tell you something straight up, both of those things are true. Parts of this ridiculously long epic are the best fantasy that’s been put on the page, and huge parts of it deserve to be skipped and never mentioned again.
How is it, you ask, that parts of this series can be so incredible, so much pure joy, but there are other parts that you simply want to forget ever happened? I’m guessing you’ve never spent a weekend doing any serious drinking, have you?
The Wheel of Time, like the best and worst weekends, has a little bit of everything. There’s the excitement of the ramp-up, the thrill that we’re there, the disbelief that this kind of fun can be sustained for so long – that somehow we’re getting away with this. There’s the sickening realization that maybe, just maybe, we’ve done too much. There is a horrific crash into a reality of our own making. We know we’ve gone too far, too deep, but we can’t stop. There is no return from this point. We come to terms with it, that this is no longer fun, but we persist. Then, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, something unexpected happens. Salvation is there, right in front of us. It has a name: Brandon Sanderson.
What – you never had a weekend that went horribly wrong but was saved by a few hours reading Brandon Sanderson on the couch while you tried to ignore the hangover and sirens outside? Huh. We live very different lives.
Much like Robert Jordan himself, I will attempt to fashion an epic mountain made of words. Halfway through, we’ll all agree this was a bad idea, that it’s too long, but we cannot stop, we will not stop until it is finished!
In this episode of Books & Booze, I’ll pair the 14 books of The Wheel of Time with 14 bottles of booze. As you read through the list, picture yourself settling down at a new bar – I mean, with these books for the first time, turning that page, not knowing what lies ahead…
#1 – The Eye of the World
My buddy said this was pretty cool, and everyone talks about it, so I guess I’ll dig in. It feels familiar, and I’m a sucker for farmboy stories. Plenty of action to keep me going, but… they pretty much just left town, right? Is that all that happened in this book?
Modelo Especial, perfect for that nice sunny moment when things are getting started, long before you start to realize those lime wedges would go perfect with a tequila shot.
#2 – The Great Hunt
That Ages to Memories to Legends to Myth stuff is pretty cool. I get the wheel thing now. He says even myth is long forgotten. This stuff is deep, man. I wonder if he’ll open the third book in the trilogy like that?
We’re settling into things, and haven’t quite comprehended what is in store for us. Just kick back and relax. It’s a perfect time for the crisp hoppiness of a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.
#3 – The Dragon Reborn
I thought this was supposed to be a trilogy? No big deal, it’s finally moving now. Though, I’m a little concerned that we’ve barely even seen Rand. Isn’t this book named after him? Oh well, he gets a badass sword, so I’m sure that is going to feature heavily in the rest of the series.
It seems this is not a trilogy… No problem. I’m enjoying the books, enjoying the beer. IPAs are a little high alcohol, but not THAT high. Let’s do a classic Stone IPA.
#4 – The Shadow Rising
Man, there is so much more going on here than I ever anticipated? The Wastes, the Black Ajah, the Aeilfinn and the Eelfinn – I can’t wait to find out more about them, and dragon tattoos. Nice, the bartender has a dragon tattoo.
6.9% ABV. Is that high? Does that explain my confusion? No problem, I’ll switch to this one which has… Oh, 7.5% ABV. New Belgium Juicy Haze IPA is bright, fruity without being juice, and after a few you’ll turn the corner into a full-blown good time.
#5 – The Fires of Heaven
Mat is my favorite character, and I’m even starting to come around on Morgaine. Wait, no, Morgaine died! MAT DIED! Oh, he’s back. Is Morgaine back too? How does this balefire stuff work? I’m starting to get a bit confused…
I think we’re going to need something a bit stronger than beer to get through all of this. What’s in the cupboard? Some bubblegum vodka, a little rum, Malibu, and juice? Yeah, sure, that sounds like … something.
#6 – Lord of Chaos
Can someone fill me in on what happened with Egwene and Nynaeve? I blacked out for 300 pages. I remember some women started arguing…
To properly replicate the feeling of this book, skip the Jack Daniel’s and go straight to the source: moonshine! If you cannot obtain the real stuff, crafted in a rusty still way up in the mountains of Tennessee, then Ole Smoky’s White Lightnin’ is a decent substitute.
#7 – A Crown of Swords
Moving sideways, moving sideways… Hey, did anyone watch that movie Sideways? It pairs well with wine.
Decoy’s Cabernet Sauvignon is an excellent choice for when you can’t drink merlot – because Sideways ruined that for everyone.
#8 – The Path of Daggers
Holy shit, Nynaeve is still working on this Bowl of Winds thing? How many fucking books has that been going on?! God, that is boring. At least I have Mat to… Mat? Has anyone seen my favorite character Mat?
Are we going to do this, or are we going to do this!? This is Books & Booze, not Movies & Booze. Though, Fantasy Hive should do that… Let’s get the series and the drinking back on track! When you need to cleanse the palette, go with something crisp, refreshing, and boozy – stir up a Gin & Tonic.
#9 – Winter’s Heart
Things are perking up, my friends. Mat is back and Rand gains a magical linkage to his harem. Wait, did someone say harem? I thought that was the hot new thing in Kindle Unlimited, kind of like Bigfoot Erotica? Is there Bigfoot Erotica in Wheel of Time too? Oh… and in this book they finally cleanse the One Power of the Dark One’s influence. That seems really important, but it took like 2 pages. It takes Nynaeve three pages just to pull on her braid and four books to figure out how to use a bowl.
We’ve hit that point where things are getting a little weird, but we still want to act cool and refined. Someone can mention Bigfoot Erotica, and that’s OK. In America, that is actually a topical reference to current politics. Just sip your drink, nod your head sagely, and move on. It’s time for the Old Fashioned.
#10 – Crossroads of Twilight
Remember how awesome Perrin was when we first found out he could talk to wolves and had special dream powers? Man, that was a long time ago. <Breaking the 4th Wall: Honestly, I cannot remember a single event from the book. Even after reading over the plot for this article, I’m like… Skip it!>
#11 – Knife of Dreams
Rand impregnated a girl and left town in the last book (I found that out on Wikipedia). Mat is the one who got married in this book? That is not the way I saw it going.
Which asshole left this beer in my house?! This shit always happens when AB Inbev takes over the local brewery… Oh well, I’ve got tequila / rocket fuel in my belly, and this crap isn’t getting out of the fridge until I drink it. Time to ride the Tasty Waves.
#12 – The Gathering Storm
Oh, good. 11 books into it and we’re now building up for the final confrontation. Rand, like us after 11 drinks, is feeling a bit surly. But also like us, the fire is burning hot. We’re moving, we’re getting this done!
When the author of your favorite series passes before his time, and the person they select to take up the mantle is BRANDON SANDERSON! I think it’s time to break out the expensive stuff, Lagavulin 16. Sip slow, savor the end coming into view.
#13 – Towers of Midnight
That wasn’t the end, after decades of saying it would be, but you’re telling me there will be one? We’re going to make it! By this point, you can’t really remember what has happened, or why anything is currently happening because you’ve been reading this series for 15 years. Things are fuzzy, but as far as I can recall, it’s all coming together neatly. How the hell is that even possible?
Grab a bottle of proscecco, the bastard cousin of champagne. In fact, I thought this was champagne, but it tastes weird. Did the champagne go bad? Fuck it, who cares. I’m at the point I just grab whatever’s next on the shelf. I wonder if Rand and the three girls are ever going to…
#14 – A Memory of Light
The important thing about this book is that it ended.
Coffee. Make it Irish.
You made it to the end! Trust me, I am as shocked as you are. Thanks for taking the time, and please take anything disparaging I said about Robert Jordan or his books as tongue-in-cheek. Honestly, his work inspired me, and I will always look up to his skill as a writer. 14 books, though…
Happy reading, happy drinking, and if all of this sounds like a bit much – then get the fuck out of here! No one likes a quitter.