Dammit, I lost my bet.

I’ve been wagering since about 1998 that the Wheel of Time would end up being thirteen books long. Looks like I’m wrong.

Official Tor press release.

Brandon Sanderson, who’s finishing the series, on how he’s ended up doing four times as much work as he signed on for.

I never believed, from the moment Jordan announced the series would end at twelve, that it could wrap up that fast, and I was right about that. But my money was on thirteen, and even that turns out to have been optimistic. (There’s something hilarious about the line in the press release, that “somehow it seems fitting that what began as a trilogy will also end as one.” Trilogy, my foot.)

At some point, I will write a lengthy post or two about my history with this series. Suffice to say that I do intend to read the end, and in fact I will almost certainly re-read the series one final time on my way to that end. I have that much investment left in it, though not much more.

But man, I do NOT envy Sanderson, who almost certainly got paid a flat fee for finishing the series, and is now having to crank out three books instead of one, all of them longer than the original estimate. While also keeping up with his own books. The man is insane.

0 Responses to “Dammit, I lost my bet.”

  1. owldaughter

    Oh, hell. Yikes. Poor guy. Also, what a nasty decision to make. Kudos to him for sticking to what will deliver quality as well as books to the readers as soon as possible.

  2. drydem

    if he accepted a flat fee and didn’t get a contract that had a specified number of books required, then it’s bad business. Of course, if someone took advantage of sympathy to get him to agree to terms of that sort, then they are bad people.

    • Marie Brennan

      See what I said to Kate Elliott below — it’s almost certainly work-for-hire, which is often done as a flat fee. Though if the contract language is truly wiggly enough not to be adjusted for multiple books, that was pretty poorly done.

  3. time_shark

    So the title of this bad boy will be: The Gathering Storm, Book One of A Memory of Light, Book Twelve of The Wheel of Time?

    I gave up after Book Seven. Getting to the end of an 800-page book and feeling like nothing of consequence had happened made me angry; I felt many writers had done more in a short story than Jordan was accomplishing in his novels. When the whole thing is finished I might tackle it again. Maybe.

    • Marie Brennan

      No, it sounds to me like the A Memory of Light part is getting dropped off.

      Me, I didn’t start reading until just before Book Seven came out, so it took a couple volumes longer until I lost my patience. But there are still some elements I want to see pay off, which is why I’ll read the end when it comes out.

  4. thespisgeoff

    I have this awful feeling that, when I go back to WoT to reread before the end, I’ll hate it. I’ll find Rand insufferable and Mat an idiot and Perrin a bore. I won’t be able to get over the casual, Men are From Mars/Women are from Venus take on sexual politics. All I’ll notice about the OP is how he totally made up how it worked as he went along, that it’s a fundamentally different system of magic once we have characters actually using it.

    I have this awful feeling that a series which really defined my adolescence is going to end badly in my adulthood. Not through anyone’s fault – just through the changing eyes of the reader.

    • Marie Brennan

      Quite possibly. Though for me, the shine started wearing off well before I stopped reading, so my eyes are already open to many of the flaws; I’ll just need to not get hung up on them.

      Though I’m really, really not looking forward to re-reading The Eye of the World. That book almost kept me from reading the rest of the series, and I never did learn to like it very much.

  5. stevenagy

    The man is insane.

    Probably, but he’s making a mark with this.

  6. kateelliott

    I think it unlikely he’s getting paid an unchanging amount for this work. I don’t know Sanderson–heck, I don’t even know who his agent is–but somewhere in the deal he will be paid for each book and receive royalties for additional volumes. After all, he has to be able to eat and pay his mortgage or rent while he’s working on the final books, so that has to be figured in there somewhere or he simply wouldn’t be able to do them.

    Me, I don’t envy him the expectations, much less on top of having to work in another’s world.

    • Marie Brennan

      It’s almost certainly work-for-hire, which (as I understand it) is frequently negotiated as a flat fee — generally one rather higher than a normal advance. Though if the contract terms really were written in such a fashion as to not specify more money if he ends up writing more than one book, that was poorly done.

      • kateelliott

        You are correct about the flat fee and work for hire (but I would expect a flat fee in this case would, indeed, be rather higher!).

        Still, they have to have negotiated for more for subsequent books. Otherwise he would have to spend so much time writing other stuff to live off. I mean, if he writes 800,000 words . . . . Surely Tor wants these books asap.

        • Marie Brennan

          Did you read his post? It’s long, mind you, but he goes into all the logic and possible outcomes regarding getting the books out asap. Also gives at least a couple of hints as to the terms of the contract, though not enough to do more than speculate.

          • kateelliott

            I did read the whole post (skimmed it, would be more correct). That’s why I’m scratching my head. If Tor wants 800,000 words, he’s got to be able to live while he writes them. I admit, while I admire him for tackling the project, I sure as heck would not want to write 800,000 words in someone else’s universe in a situation like this one (besides his evident love for the series, I have to figure it is giving and will continue to give him excellent name recognition for his own future projects). Although I can’t say I would never do it, because you never know in what circumstances you find yourself.

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