If Thirtysomething-ish Me could encounter Junior-in-High-School Me, I would assume he’d take a copy of Wheel of Time: The Eye of the World with him to said time-paradoxical encounter. He would look the zit-faced, sixteen-year-old in the eye and say, “Don’t you dare start this series until 2012.”
Younger Me would probably respond with, “But that’s twenty years from now!”
(Sidenote: Younger me sucks at math.)
Thirtysomething-ish Me would say, ” I know.”
“Surely, the series will be done before then,” Younger Me might whine.
“Trust me, it won’t,” Older/Maybe-Wiser Me would reply. “And don’t call me Shirley.”
(Sidenote: Love of The Naked Gun transcends time.)
What was the point of this little past-versus-future hypothetical? To emphasize a series that has been with me throughout most of my adolescence and into the present day, and it shouldn’t have been! To date the series is thirteen books long spanning over two decades. The original author of the series is dead, and the reigns have since past to another. Regardless of how frustrating The Wheel of Time books were, they are clearly a part of my life. They were my Gen X Harry Potter…minus the Hufflepuffs.
In May of 2012 – barring any further delays or deaths – the series will finally draw to a close. I will either heave a sigh of relief or shake fists at the “fires of Heaven” in frustration. Either way, I will remember the good points – including a nifty little detail that I never caught on to before.
In the story (which I won’t get to here, at all), there is an island called Tremalking. The inhabitants of the island are called the Amayar, a bunch of sea-hippies that follow something similar to Taoism. Like the aborigines of Australia, they also believe the world they inhabit is in a dream-state. A little lesser known fact about these fantasy sea-hippies is that they grow their own tea.
So renowned is this tea that health benefits associated with it include relief of minor food poisoning, relaxation, relief from cramping, and other detoxifying effects. It is known to be a gentle – if bitter – beverage with a soothing character. Mentions popped up here and there in the series, but I never glommed onto them until the most recent volumes. I have two theories as to why this might be:
(1) I never noticed it in prior volumes because I had no interest in dead leaves steeped in hot water back then.
(2) The author that took over after Robert Jordan’s death was a tea drinker.
The mentions of Tremalking Black, and character references (and reverence) of it, seemed more prevalent when the narrative duties changed hands. I found this so fascinating that I wondered if other authors juggled tea in so subtle but subliminal a manner. At times, I find books that have mentions of tea, and – not surprisingly – some of the information is false. An odd occurrence if done poorly in a fantasy novel.
I guess that’s the sign of truly masterful prose – when an author describes a drink so often, and in so vivid a detail, that you actually want to try some. My own fictional pursuits of late have been clunky at best in trying to convey a love of tea with such verve and still keep the story moving. In that, though, I have a long way to go.
In the meantime, I’ll pretend that my spring-grown Ceylon was cultivated by sea-hippies.