What the WoT: In Which We Return to the Fold

Jenn Northington

Director, Editorial Operations

Jenn Northington has worked in the publishing industry wearing various hats since 2004, including bookseller and events director, and is currently Director of Editorial Operations at Riot New Media Group. You can hear her on the SFF Yeah! podcast nerding out about sci-fi and fantasy. When she’s not working, she’s most likely gardening, running, or (obviously) reading. Find her on Tumblr at jennIRL and Instagram at iamjennIRL.

Jenn Northington and Preeti Chhibber discovered their mutual lapsed fandom over a very nerdy game of Shag Marry Kill on Twitter, and decided that it was time to get back on the wagon. In What the WoT, they’ll read and discuss the final three books in the Wheel of Time series: The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light.

In this first post, they interview themselves about their fandom history.


Wheel of TimeTell us the origins of your WoT fandom.

Jenn Northington: I don’t know exactly when I started reading, but I’m betting I was 11 or 12. I was a precocious, genre-obsessed reader with an equally precocious/obsessed older brother, so it was probably inevitable. And man oh man, I read The Eye of the World So Many Times. It was so good! It had all these fascinating characters, and this mystical thing going on behind the main plot, and there were magic and swords but not cheesy magic and swords like in the Dragonlance books, which I was outgrowing at that point. I was also astonished (and a bit relieved) to find that there were no elves. Prior to these books, I don’t think I was aware that it was legal to write fantasy in which there were no elves. So anyway, I loved the first book, and then I would beg for more of them, and when I had finished the ones we had (or all the ones that were published) I would go back and reread at least the first one, if not the first three. At one point I had a dream that I was Rand, facing off with my first Trollocs on the farm. Also I immediately wanted to learn how to wield a sword, in a way that I had never really wanted to before, because FORMS ARE SO FANCY, and because then I could spend more time with Lan who is in the top five of my Fictional Boyfriends list. I have a thing for brooders, what can I say?

Preeti Chhibber: My friend Christian (who at the time was the kid with a bad crowd that I wasn’t supposed to hang out with in High School) gave me the first book when I was 14. Prior to that, I was still stuck firmly in the YA Fantasy world. I must have read Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series a million times. When Christian handed me The Eye of the World, I was thrilled that it seemed to be a thousand pages in pretty tiny font. SO MUCH TO READ. I ate the thing up. I then passed it to my older brother who loved it and passed it to my mother who hated it (and I quote, “He’s just stealing things from eastern religions!”). I flew through the rest of the series and it opened up a whole world of contemporary high fantasy for me. Though nothing quite hit the mark like Wheel of Time, I was excited to have a brand new genre to investigate! Also, I desperately wanted to learn archery thanks to Birgitte Silverbow. Her name was BIRGITTE SILVERBOW. Come on.

When/why did you stop reading?

JN: I am 75% sure that the last book I read was A Crown of Swords. I definitely absolutely read Lord of Chaos, and I definitely absolutely have not read The Path of Daggers, because when I looked at that recap I actually said “HOLD THE PHONE” out loud. I say 75% sure because while I remember the thing about Myrelle and Nisao, you know, that thing, I am not clear on the Bowl of Winds. Maybe I only read 75% of the book? Entirely possible. A Crown of Swords came out in 1996, which puts me at 13 or 14 if I read it within a year of pub-date, and also puts me at the beginning of the stage in my reading life that I actually enjoyed the books we were assigned for English classes, and started reading more literary fiction and nonfiction. So my expanding literary horizons, coupled with the long stretches between publication of each subsequent book, pretty much ended my time as a reader.

PC: I remember exactly why I stopped reading. That freaking prequel. THE PREQUEL. They released Crossroads of Twilight in 2003, and then we waited and waited, and instead of the next book, they released a prequel called A New Spring in 2004. I haven’t been so mad since I read all the Game of Thrones books in 2004 without realizing he wouldn’t release another book for 7 years. ANY WAY. I ended up interning for Tor in 2005 and had two very special things happen to me: I was tasked with photocopying the manuscript for The Knife of Dreams and I met (and fangirled over) Robert Jordan. You’d think that would pull me back into the series. I’m a terrible person, so it didn’t.

Why start reading again now?

JN: Well, the series is over! I can finally know what happens! Which of his three ladies will Rand actually end up with? (OMG WHAT IF IT IS ALL OF THEM?) If I had the time and mental energy, I would go back and reread them all. Worthier, braver readers, like’s Leigh Burton, have done that. But my reading schedule just can’t handle it, and anyway that’s what fan sites are for.

PC: That’s easy. I have to know what happened. I also want to make sure that Mat ends up happy and married.

Coming up next in What the WoT: February will see us Internet-recapping our way back into the plot, with The Gathering Storm discussion in early March!