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6 Books like The Wheel of Time: Thinking on a Larger Scale

People have been enjoying epic books like ‘The Wheel of Time’ since ‘The Odyssey’. Series like ‘White Gold Wielder’, ‘The Belgariad’ and ‘Saga of the Seven Suns’ are part of the saga, racking up the word counts and delivering an immersive experience in a fantastic world.

Make No Little Plans

One of the reasons we read epics and sagas is the thrill of taking a journey with a hero or a culture. Immerse yourself in a bigger world, follow the journey of a hero from birth to battle. All of these series follow elements of Joseph Campbell’s hero epic in some way.

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Books Similar to ‘The Wheel of Time’…

‘Lord Foul’s Bane’ (Stephen Donaldson, 1977)

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The first book of this 10-book series deals mainly with the evolution of one character, Thomas Covenant. He is an author who no longer writes since he contracted leprosy and fell into a pit of anger and depression. He is hated and shunned by the people of the town, and lives far away from any regular human contact.

After he is injured in the “real” world, he is brought to a place called simply the Land where he finds he is fated to the savior and defeat Lord Foul, the ultimate evil. He seems to be able to switch from the Land to what he thinks is reality. This fan-made video gives a great synopsis and the music is good too.

As a reader, you are not certain if the Land is a fantasy created by Covenant to escape his horrible life or if he really can go between the worlds. He attempts to make changes to his physical appearance in one place to see if it changes in the other, but the results are always ambiguous.

Covenant is not a likeable character to begin with but as he grows into his role as White Gold Wielder and Lord Foul’s Bane, you feel more sympathetic. In some ways, his role is like Rand al’thor in ‘The Wheel of Time’, reluctant savior of the world. They are both unsure, unwilling and unbelieving.  Like ‘The Wheel of Time’ you need a glossary and a map to span the new ideas presented in it.  Donaldson  has written other works in the same vein but this the series for which he is best known.

Similarity Match: 90%
Most of the 10% I took away here comes from the fact that Donaldson’s series has better character development and better writing then ‘Wheel of Time’. They share that broad vision, but Covenant is a better character than Rand, who really just annoyed me by book 7.

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‘The Pawn of Prophecy’ (David Eddings,1982)

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This is a picaresque book about an amazing cast of characters. The hero is Garion, a child at the beginning, living a simple farm wife with an eccentric aunt. When a wandering storyteller named Old Wolf turns up with the report of a mysterious stolen object, Garion quickly learns that his Aunt Pol and Old Wolf are way more interesting than he ever dreamed.

He soon learns that he has a bigger role to play in the world than he ever dreamed.

This lighter fare then ‘Wheel of Time’ both in characters and in plot. While there is still the theme of the destiny, Garion is less reluctant. There are amusing characters who have much to reveal. The minor characters in the tale, like Silk the thief are the best part of this series. Many reader comment on the likability and development of the characters of this book.

It’s a shame this has not been made into a series. The story feels more like a series of connect vignettes rather than a broad, heavy saga. It would work well in a mini-series format. It’s far less dark and violent then ‘Wheel of Time’ and is well suited to a teen audience. Like ‘Wheel of Time’ you still have a hero, but Garion lives in a nicer world. I’m not the only one who would like to see it on TV, Den of Geek agrees!

Similarity Match: 80%
This is lighter, shorter version of ‘Wheel of Time’ suitable for the YA audience but good enough for adults who love character-driven fiction.

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‘The Hidden Empire’ (Kevin J Anderson, 2002)

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I came at this one backwards. First I read the first book of the sequel trilogy. Kevin J. Anderson does a great job backfilling what you need to know about the ‘Saga of the Seven Suns’ so it made sense, but it left me with a lot of questions. And the series does not disappoint. It is well-paced and well-planned.

‘Wheel of Time’ and this series span eons of time, but this is pure science fiction, no gods, demons or deities predicting destiny. There is also not a central heroic character like Rand, instead you have a host of characters who are following their guiding star in life.

The conflict starts when the human race discovers an ancient device from a deceased (or presumed deceased) race called the Klikiss. They use it to ignite a gas giant so they can create a star only to start a war with a race they didn’t even know existed. This race lived inside the gas giant and took exception to being blown up.

This escalates as the presumed-to-be-dead Klikiss are found not to be dead. Add in a lot of political intrigue, ancient races with terrible secrets, a cast of characters and you get seven volumes of a very involving story. There are even killer robots.

This has all the scope of a book like ‘The Wheel of Time’ but is more scientific. Anderson writes in great detail, especially about food. ‘The Wheel of Time’ also focuses much more on a single character, ‘The Hidden Empire’ is more spread out.

Anderson wrote the books using a grand architectural plan and it shows as you read the entire ‘Saga of the Seven Suns’.

Similarity Match: 80%
If you are more into Isaac Asimov than Piers Anthony, this will be your cup of cardamom coffee which you can share with the Chairman, a bad guy you will love to hate.

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If You Like ‘The Wheel of Time’, You Will Like…

I have to admit that any saga with the scope like the ‘The Wheel of Time’ does seem daunting at first, but once I immerse myself in that world I love that it continues in another book.

‘The Golden Compass’ (Phillip Pullman, 1995)

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In this series, children’s souls exist outside of their bodies manifested as animals. Lyra, the child of destiny, discovers there is a war brewing between the church and a group which is stealing those souls for an unknown reason. This book has been banned as anti-religious because of some very negative religious elements. As usual, the book is much better than the movie.

The theme of destined hero, but for children. Pullman has an amazing imagination which comes through in this series.

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‘Dune’ (Frank Herbert, 1965)

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This Hugo-award winning book is about one thing, Spice. This mind-altering drug drives every character, plot and scheme in the book. The hero of destiny, Paul Atreides is the ultimate achievement of a genetic engineering project, but he does not do as his makers intended. This series has been continued by the author’s son along with other authors. There have been several movies made from it, but the series from 2000 was probably truest to the book. This one rivals ‘The Wheel of Time’ in scope of empire and depth of vision.

This classic is the source for so many ideas, Herbert created a world so large I think they could write books about it until Arrakis dies.

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‘A Spell for Chameleon’ (Piers Anthony, 1977)

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I have to admit to being obsessed with this book and series in high school. Bink is the only non-magical person in a world where every person has some kind of ability and is being exiled for it. He ends up getting involved in a long journey of self-discovery, discovering political intrigue and finding a wife. This series will have you groaning out loud with the amazing puns and word play.

This classic series was great until about book 10, then I think it started to slide. But it’s still worth reading. Check out Anthony’s page for many other “punny” works.

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I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie!

The reason I read fiction is to get lost in a world bigger and more fantastic then this one. All of these series deliver on that and provide characters you care about, love or hate.

Do you find sagas intimidating?

If you do, maybe you have not found the right one?

Do you think they are too much of a commitment in our hurried lives?

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