Wheel of Time books on a bookstore's shelf

A few years back, Mysterious Galaxy, a San Diego bookstore specializing in mystery and science fiction, opened a second location in Redondo Beach. They recently decided to close the newer location and focus on the San Diego store and community events (they’re heavily involved in the local book and comics convention circuits), and held a giant sale to clear out inventory.

I have to admit I’m not terribly surprised. As much as I loved the place, the store was never particularly busy when I dropped in. Although to be honest, we’re part of the problem, since we only managed to visit a few times a year. Neither of us has nearly as much time to read as we used to, and we’re splitting our book purchases between print and digital along somewhat arbitrary lines these days. (I did make a point of using their affiliate account at Kobo, though.)

We went to the sale over the weekend, and found it amusing that of all the Wheel of Time novels remaining on the shelf, the only ones left aside from the final installment were The Path of Daggers, Winter’s Heart, and Crossroads of Twilight — a trio of books widely known for killing fans’ interest in the series. (Crossroads, in particular, is referred to jokingly as “Characters Show Up.”) Fortunately it picked up again with New Spring, a flashback novel focusing on a character who had vanished halfway through the series, set years before the first book. The next book in the main series, Knife of Dreams, turned out to be really good, making me wonder if Robert Jordan’s side trip to the past had re-energized and re-inspired him. The fact that the story picked up again so strongly before his death — before he was even diagnosed, IIRC — gave me a lot more confidence in the concluding trilogy finished by Brandon Sanderson. If that next book had been like Crossroads, I probably would have dropped the series right there.

M'Haels Crafts (Michaels sign missing a few letters)

Little-known fact: in the First Age, Mazrim Taim sought power by running a craft store, rather than becoming head of the Asha’man.

Where did you think they got their supplies for making sword and dragon pins?

On a more serious note, I’m currently reading A Memory of Light, the long-awaited final volume of The Wheel of Time. I’m about 80 pages into “The Last Battle.” This chapter isn’t just longer than a Robert Jordan prologue, it’s longer than some novels I’ve read.

Update: This photo turned out to be quite popular on Tumblr, racking up more than 300 notes including a slogan from ashamanhannigan: “We’ll turn you from other craft stores.”

Back in 2005, Tokyopop started working on manga-style graphic novels based on Jim Henson’s Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. They released one volume of three planned for Legends of the Dark Crystal, taking place centuries before the movie, and two volumes of four planned for Return to Labyrinth, focusing on Sarah’s brother Toby as a teenager…and just sort of stopped. After two years, the third volume of Return to Labyrinth eventually came out, but it was unclear when the final volume would arrive.

Earlier this year I noticed an August release date for the conclusion of Return to Labyrinth. I checked a few days ago and was surprised to find that not only was it actually available…but so was Legends of the Dark Crystal volume 2. (Interestingly enough, the main thing I can glean from the Return to Labyrinth v.4 reviews on Amazon is that the Jareth/Sarah shippers hated it.)

Of course, when you start thinking about long-delayed fantasy books, one in particular always comes to mind: George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, the long-awaited fifth book of A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s already been nearly five years since the last book, and while the cover art has been ready for most of that time…there’s no sign of the book being finished anytime soon. This is the book that indirectly prompted Neil Gaiman’s (in)famous essay in which he stated, “George R.R. Martin is not your bitch.” The really funny thing? People are reviewing the book on Amazon. Actually, they’re reviewing the wait for the book!

In addition to fan frustration, some readers are concerned that George R.R. Martin might follow in the footsteps of another fantasy author and die before he completes his magnum opus. Robert Jordan, fortunately for his fans, was already working on the conclusion of his epic, The Wheel of Time, and left extensive outlines and notes. Brandon Sanderson has been writing a trilogy to conclude the series based on Jordan’s notes and partial manuscript. The Gathering Storm came out last year and was surprisingly good. On Tuesday, Dragonmount reported that Sanderson has completed the final draft of Towers of Midnight, and is on track for its November 2 release. The final book, A Memory of Light, should be out next year.

Spotted on the Dynamite forums: Amazon has New Spring: The Graphic Novel available for preorder, with a release date of January 18, 2011.

They’re using the cover from the prose novel in the listing, which I assume means Tor hasn’t submitted a cover yet. I’d say the cover from issue #1 of the comic book (shown here) would work just fine.

It’s taken a long time (and three publishers) to complete this adaptation of the Wheel of Time prequel, even though it only covered eight standard-sized comic books. (Check out the New Spring-tagged posts here for the whole story.) I’m sure Tor Publishing was frustrated, since they couldn’t actually release the collection until the individual chapters were complete, and Robert Jordan was extremely frustrated with the situation.

The same studio has also started adapting the main series. The third issue of Eye of the World arrived in stores earlier this week. According to this post, the original plan was for Eye of the World to cover roughly 36 issues, to be collected in six volumes. Just for book one.

Dynamite has been good at keeping the comics on schedule since they relaunched a few months ago, but at that pace, even if they never miss a month, it’ll take 42 years to adapt the whole series!