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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Wheel of Time Goes Hollywood, Nerds Rejoice.

Posted by Erik Henriksen on Wed, Aug 13, 2008 at 1:58 PM

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I got 379 pages into Robert Jordan's fantasy novel The Eye of the World before tossing it aside, feeling like I'd read enough wannabe Tolkien to last me a lifetime. My original goal was far more ambitious: I'd planned on reading Jordan's entire The Wheel of Time series, in which Eye is merely the first entry. I think the whole series weighs in at something like 84 billion pages; Eye is 782 pages long, not including the glossary, and it's one of the shorter books in the Wheel of Time series, which as of now, contains 11 books, plus a prequel, and plus a final, twelfth book that's coming out this fall. (It's being finished by another writer, as Jordan died last year.)

The whole reason I picked up Eye of the World was because I had several friends--friends I trust, friends with good taste in fantasy and sci-fi--who wholeheartedly recommended Jordan's series to me. In fact, I'm hard-pressed to think of another fantasy series that elicits such passion in its readers (yes, even including Lord of the Rings), but fuck, I could only read so many paragraphs like these before giving up:

Soon they would reach the river and meet Moiraine, and she would put them beyond the Trollocs' reach as well. He believed it because he needed to believe. The wind scraped branches together and rustled the leaves and needles on the evergreens. A nighthawk's lonely cry drifted in the dark, and he and Egwene moved their horses closer together as though they were huddling for warmth. They were very much alone.

A Trolloc horn sounded somewhere behind them, quick, wailing blasts, urging the hunters to hurry, hurry. Then thick, half-human howls rose on their trail, spurred on by the horn. Howls that grew sharper as they caught the human scent.

That just seems goofy as fuck to me, but apparently I'm in the minority: The Wheel of Time series has sold a mind-boggling 44 million copies worldwide, and Universal just picked up the movie rights to the whole thing for a seven-figure deal. More details after the jump.

Variety has the story on the plan for the movies.

Universal Pictures has acquired film rights to the late Robert Jordan's bestselling The Wheel of Time novel series in a seven-figure deal.

Adaptations of the fantasy tomes will begin with the first book in the cycle, The Eye of the World.

Rick Selvage and Larry Mondragon will produce for Red Eagle Entertainment, which published graphic novel adaptations of Jordan's books.

I like that the film's producers have last names that make them sound like they're fantasy characters themselves. Or at least like they're the fake names of high schoolers who spend their Friday nights in a friend's basement playing D&D.

Anyway, with Harry Potter winding down, I'm guessing that the theory in Hollywood is that fantasy will have another resurgence in a few years, when Guillermo Del Toro's The Hobbit films start coming out. (Another popular fantasy series, Terry Goodkind's 11-book-long The Sword of Truth series [which also looks just silly and hack-ish to me, though admittedly I haven't read any of them] hits TV this fall.) Which is fine--I'm a sci-fi geek at heart, but I like fantasy stuff too.

Or maybe that's wrong: Maybe I just like the idea of fantasy stuff, because frankly, the only fantasy things I can think of that I really, really like are Lord of the Rings, and Pan's Labyrinth, and (SHUT UP IT'S AWESOME) Reign of Fire. (Does Reign of Fire even count as a fantasy movie?) Pretty much every other movie or book I've picked up in the genre has been incredibly shitty (I'm looking at you, Eragon), or utterly reliant on nostalgia and/or irony (I know I'm gonna get shit for this, but I'll be goddamned if Labyrinth doesn't screen like 50 times a year in Portland, and I'll be similarly godamned if I can think of a single non-ironic reason for it to be that popular), and it's kind of turned me off of the genre as a whole.

Am I missing something with The Wheel of Time that however many other million people are seeing and loving? Or am I just picking lousy stuff in the genre to try and read? Recommendations, anyone?

In the meantime:

Okay. So that's also goofy as fuck. But goofy as fuck in a self-aware, still-kinda-badass way, at least? Maybe.

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