A Memory of LightSo, you might want to file this one away in the ‘Useless Genre Knowledge’ drawer, but I was a little shocked when, in an interview with Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing, Jason Denzel, webmaster of Dragonmount, and one of the few people who have read A Memory of Light, mentioned that there is a chapter in the final Wheel of Time novel that is 50,000 words long and contains as many as 70-80 point-of-view characters. For reference, The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is 95,000 words long, and Lord of Chaos, the sixth volume in the Wheel of Time time series, features 47 point-of-view characters in its entirety. That’s a meaty chapter.

From Denzel:

There’s one chapter in the book, one chapter itself, that’s fifty thousand words long, or maybe more. I’ve been saying fifty thousand, but it might actually be more than that. There’s something like seventy or eighty point of views within that single chapter.

Speculating, my best guess is that the chapter covers a single major event (Rand fighting/defeating the Dark One?), viewed by dozens of different characters on the battlefield and/or around the world. At the low-end estimation of 70 characters, that leaves about 700 words and change for each point-of-view, which isn’t a lot to work with, but could be an interesting technique for showcasing the world-altering events that are sure to fill A Memory of Light. It makes me tired just thinking about it. For what it’s worth, Denzel also said that it’s the fastest he’s ever read 50,000 words.

The entire interview with Denzel is worth reading for anyone interested in Wheel of Time fandom, or salivating for the upcoming release of A Memory of Light, which Denzel talks about at length, but avoids spoilers completely.

Update: For those who don’t read the comments section of these posts, Brandon Sanderson dropped by and clarified some of the details about this chapter. It’s both smaller, and larger, than Denzel was suggesting.

Just opened the document, as I figured I could give some hard statistics on this. The chapter is just shy of 79,000 words. It contains (by my quick count) 72 scenes–but only 31 distinct viewpoints, as numerous ones repeat. (There are eight Rand scenes, for example, and six each for Mat and Egwene. Three or four each for another eight characters.)

It is not the last chapter of the book, but is a very important one, as you might have guessed. From the get-go, I lobbied Harriet to let me do this sequence as a single, massive chapter as I felt it fit with what was going on in the book as well as fitting with the series as a whole. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.

79,000 words puts it just 15,000 words (or a decent sized novelette) away from being as long as The Hobbit, and 35% of the length of the entirety of The Path of Daggers. Staggering.

Discussion
  • Stephan December 3, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    It’s something that Jordan does often, but never at that epic scale. Those scenes are among my most favorite scenes in all of speculative fiction. Call me crazy, but I’m looking forward to that chapter SO. MUCH.

  • Josiah Cadicamo December 3, 2012 at 3:55 pm

    ^ exactly. His grasp of perspective and pacing shine through when he does that for sure. When he does stuff like that you get a wonderful idea of the true shape of events whereas a lot of authors end up simply confusing the reader more then anything else.

  • Aidan Moher December 3, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    The most obvious example being Rand’s ‘flashback’ in Rhuidean, I’d say. Fantastically powerful chapter.

  • Brandon Sanderson December 4, 2012 at 3:31 am

    Hey, Aidan. Saw this linked on Reddit, and did a post there. Figured I should post the same response here. Tiny spoilers follow, as I mention some of the viewpoints that are in the chapter.

    “Just opened the document, as I figured I could give some hard statistics on this. The chapter is just shy of 79,000 words. It contains (by my quick count) 72 scenes–but only 31 distinct viewpoints, as numerous ones repeat. (There are eight Rand scenes, for example, and six each for Mat and Egwene. Three or four each for another eight characters.)

    It is not the last chapter of the book, but is a very important one, as you might have guessed. From the get-go, I lobbied Harriet to let me do this sequence as a single, massive chapter as I felt it fit with what was going on in the book as well as fitting with the series as a whole. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.”

  • [...] relativamente a questo quattordicesimo volume, è che, a detta dello stesso Sanderson, in esso è presente un capitolo lungo la bellezza di 79.000 parole che vede al suo interno 72 scene con 31 distinti [...]

  • [...] A Memory of Light has a 50,000 word chapter with 70-80 character viewpoints [...]

  • [...] A Memory of Light has a 50,000 word chapter with 70-80 character viewpoints [...]

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