I missed this news from a couple of weeks ago: Tor has announced that A Memory of Light, the final Wheel of Time book, is going to be split into three volumes. A Memory of Light Part 1: The Gathering Storm is due on November 3, 2009. Working titles for the others are AMOL Part 2: Shifting Winds and AMOL Part 3: Tarmon Gai’don.
Author Brandon Sanderson, finishing the book from Robert Jordan’s manuscript and notes, explains how the decision was made: basically, it was turning into a 750,000-word novel. Consider that 250,000 is seriously long already, and Nanowrimo considers just 50,000 to be the lower limit. So we’re talking the equivalent of 15 Nanowrimo Novels. Not only would it need the proverbial luggage cart, but he wouldn’t be able to finish and revise it in time for a 2009 release. They figured 2011 at the earliest.
So they’re splitting it into three physical books, the first coming out in 2009 as promised to fans, and the others following — one hopes — in 2010 and 2011.
On one hand, I’m annoyed. I thought we were one book away from the finale. I thought we were only going to have one book worth of material polished by another author. And suddenly the single $25–30 purchase for one hardcover is turning into a probable total of $90 (over the course of several years, sure, but still…). Regardless of the actual reasons, it feels like a money-grab by the publisher trying to squeeze two more books out of a dead author’s fan base.
On the other hand… I’m not exactly surprised. Given the sheer amount of detail in Robert Jordan’s magnum opus, the number of open plot threads, and the scale of building up to full-on Armageddon, I think I’d rather see everything handled properly than get the Cliff Notes version of the series conclusion.