How to Read All 15 ‘Wheel of Time’ Novels in Chronological Order

Elaine Chung

Lord of the Rings isn’t the only set of novels getting the big budget screen treatment courtesy of Jeff Bezos. The Wheel of Time arrives on Amazon Prime Video on November 19, all but ensuring that Robert Jordan’s best-selling fantasy series is about to captivate legions of new readers. But the barrier to entry is steep: despite the series’ global popularity, with over ninety million copies sold, the saga isn’t for the faint of heart, clocking in at fifteen dense books, 2782 named characters, and thousands of pages. (And you thought Dune was convoluted!) The unacquainted would be forgiven for wondering how best to scale the mountain.

That’s where we come in. We’ve spelunked our way through The Wheel of Time to bring you this roadmap to the sprawling series, with guidance on how best to navigate the novels and what to expect from each outing. Season One of Amazon’s series is expected to span only the first installment, The Eye of the World, so we recommend starting there, then plowing through the ensuing books in their publication order. The series changed hands for the final three volumes, owing to Jordan’s death in 2007, but with a treasure trove of notes from the author’s personal archive, fantasy favorite Brian Sanderson managed to bring the titanic story home, just as Jordan intended.

Drawing on global mythologies about the cyclical nature of time, as well as familiar themes of fate and free will, The Wheel of Time looms large in the literary canon as a definitive work that both subverted and expanded what’s possible for epic fantasy. If you fall in love with the books, don’t stop exploring—there’s a whole world of video games, roleplaying games, and even soundtracks to get lost in.

Let’s dive in.

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The Eye of the World

The journey begins with The Eye of the World. In a peaceful village named Emond’s Field, a mysterious traveler named Moiraine Damodred arrives, seeking the Dragon Reborn: an individual destined to stand against The Dark One, a malevolent force determined to bring chaos and destruction to these sleepy lands. When the village is attacked by trollocs (beastly soldiers), Moiraine fights off the attackers alongside a band of locals: Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Thom. To save their village from further attacks, the group flees, only to be separated along the perilous journey. When Rand decimates the trolloc army in a climactic battle, drawing on the One Power, Moiraine begins to suspect that Rand may be the Dragon Reborn. 


The Great Hunt

For centuries, legends have coalesced around the Horn of Valere, a powerful artifact that, when blown, summons dead heroes to fight on behalf of the Light. When the horn is stolen, Rand sets out to keep it from falling into the Dark One’s hands, but first, he’ll have to step into his destiny as the Dragon Reborn, and master the magical capabilities he never dreamed of harnessing. 


The Dragon Reborn

Rand has been declared the Dragon Reborn, while the war-ravaged peoples of the world cry out for his assistance. But before he can come to their rescue, he must complete another test: retrieve the mythical crystal sword Callendor, which can only be wielded by the Champion of Light, from a fearsome fortress known as the Stone of Tear. Journeying alongside Moiraine and other allies, the quest will test Rand’s mettle, and illuminate the truth of his destiny. 


The Shadow Rising

Callendor in hand, Rand travels to the Aiel Waste, a desert region occupied by a mysterious race of legendary warriors. Rand hopes to be anointed as their prophesied leader, but the journey will demand much of him, forcing him to relive ancestral history, discover the secret past of the Aiel, and master the way of channeling the One Power. 


The Fires of Heaven

Fearful that some Aiel will renounce his leadership and ally with his enemies, Rand rallies his Aiel followers to the defense of Cairhien, a city threatened by dark forces. With the armies of darkness beaten back, Rand establishes control of the city, and plans to avenge the deposed queen. Rand’s battle with her killer leads him into the world of dreams, where he seeks to stamp out an evil leader once and for all. 


Lord of Chaos

As the threat posed by the Dark One grows, Rand sets about training a new legion of men who can channel the One Power. Meanwhile, Cairhien receives an unexpected visitor seeking to control Rand, which sets off political intrigue. When Rand is kidnapped and tortured by an agent of dark forces, his followers take up arms in the climactic Battle of Dumai’s Wells, which ends with rebels forced to swear fealty to the Dragon Reborn. 


A Crown of Swords

Rand’s friends search for the Bowl of the Winds, an important magical artifact with the power to reverse the endless heat waves implemented by the Dark One. Meanwhile, female channelers (known as Aes Sedai) from different lands assemble, and Rand attempts to quell a rebellion among nobles in Cairhien. 


The Path of Daggers

With the Bowl of the Winds located, the Aes Sedai succeed in their attempt to reverse the Dark One’s climate manipulations. Elsewhere, Rand works to repel invading forces, and suffers an attack from a traitorous enemy. 


Winter’s Heart

While Rand is on the run, his friends make moves to gain power and step into their destinies. Mat kidnaps the woman he’s prophesied to marry, while Perrin pursues the warrior who kidnapped his wife. Winter’s Heart culminates with a major game-changer when Rand cleanses saidin (the male dimension of the One Power) of the Dark One’s influence. 


Crossroads of Twilight

While Perrin will stop at nothing to rescue his kidnapped wife, even torturing prisoners for information regarding her whereabouts, Mat courts his bride-to-be, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, whom he discovers can channel the One Power. Elsewhere, Rand fathers twins in secret. Stories converge when a truce requires the Dragon Reborn to meet with the Daughter of the Nine Moons. 


New Spring

Some Wheel of Time fans argue that you can skip New Spring, a prequel that takes place twenty years before the events of The Eye of the World. We include it here to preserve the integrity of the series’ publication order, but just know that this installment will send you hopscotching backward in time. The story focuses on Moiraine Damodred, tracking how she became Aes Sedai, and recounting how she witnessed a prophecy of the Dragon’s rebirth. 


Knife of Dreams

Jordan went out with a bang in Knife of Dreams, the final installment he managed to pen before his death. In this volume, the world is changing: unusual trolloc attacks, appearances of the walking dead, and ripples in the fabric of time indicate that the Last Battle is drawing near. Rand and the Daughter of the Nine Moons negotiate a truce, but things run off the rails when Lews Therin (Rand’s alter-ego) seizes control of saidin. The ensuing conflict costs Rand his left hand; we also learn that the mental disorder allowing him to communicate with his past self will likely kill him. 


The Gathering Storm

Jordan intended for A Memory of Light, the final installment of the series, to follow Knife of Dreams. But after Jordan’s passing, it became clear that A Memory of Light was too vast to publish in one go; thus, it was split into three volumes, which Sanderson constructed from Jordan’s extensive notes. Sanderson takes the wheel with The Gathering Storm, teeing up the climactic fight between the forces of Light and Shadow. According to the prophecy, the Dragon Reborn must fight in the Last Battle for the forces of Light to have a shot at victory, but before the battle, Rand must first rally the world’s forces—and get a grip on his sanity. 


Towers of Midnight

In the final days before the Last Battle, the world unravels. Mat and Perrin must align their followers to take up arms in humanity’s last stand. So too must they embrace their destinies, channelling the powerful and mysterious forces within themselves for the good of the world. Meanwhile, Rand’s power and madness grow, all while an army of Trollocs spills out across the land. 


A Memory of Light

The armies of the world assemble for the cosmic confrontation between Light and Shadow. It all comes down to a fateful duel between Rand and the Dark One, during which Rand must harness all dimensions of the One Power to imprison and defeat the Dark One. After the dust settles, Rand is believed dead, but his inner circle knows that he survived in an evil accomplice’s body, galloping away in secret, even though he can no longer channel the One Power. Sounds like spin-off fodder, doesn’t it? Maybe by the time you make it to book fifteen, it’ll be you taking the baton from Jordan and Sanderson.

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