Thursday, October 27, 2011

How to Easily Format an eBook [2] Title Pages / Table of Contents

This is the 2nd post in my tutorial about formatting an eBook for Kindle or Nook. You can read the first post about overall text formatting here. This post deals with Title Pages and the Table of Contents.

Once you have the basic text ready to go (according to the first part of this tutorial), you'll need to add any extra pages like a Title Page, a Copyright Page, Part/Section Pages, etc. Essentially anything that you want in your eBook that is not part of the normal text. For my eBooks, I created all of the above, including a Table of Contents.


Title Page
The title page in your eBook is essentially the first page after the cover. Usually it just says the book title, the author's name and any other info (like a tagline, publisher, etc) that you deem absolutely necessary. But for the most part, it should just be the title and author.

For my novel Bonebearer, all I did was this:


Very simple. On the Word page, start the title around 7-8 lines down from the top. Put a few spaces on each line to ensure that they remain after you convert it to the eBook format. Try to keep it tight overall and only in the first half of the page so it looks good with the most common font sizes a reader may choose for their eReader. Feel free to use larger size fonts (as compared to your normal text). When converted to an eBook the size differences between the two will remain.

Also remember to keep it on its own separate page, with page breaks between it and nearby pages. Page breaks force a new page in eReaders, so don't forget to use them when needed.

Copyright Page
There are a lot of different ways you can do this. One is to just pick up some of the books you own, look at their copyright pages and imitate them in some form or fashion (that is what I did). Add credits for any additional contributors. Go ahead and put a disclaimer about it being a "work of fiction" and that it's copyrighted, etc etc. Put it on a separate page entirely, with page breaks, like you did with the title page.

Technically you already own the copyright from the moment you create it, further reinforced by fixing your work in some tangible medium (an eBook); you don't have to file for copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office unless you want to bring a lawsuit against someone for infringement. So that's up to you.

For more info on copyright, please check copyright.gov. It's a good idea to read through the FAQs so you're familiar with the basics before publishing anything.

Yet... why bother with a copyright page? Well, because it looks professional, that's why. Plus, they are not hard to make. The extra effort will make it look like you care (which you do, right?).

Here is the copyright page from my novel, Bonebearer:


You will notice I added things like "Cover art by" and an author website. I also have an ISBN, which is something you may or may not have. It is not required in order to sell an eBook, but if you're really trying to be serious about selling your writing, it's a good idea to have one so your work can be identified for a few reasons (as taken from here):

· for the purposes of trading through conventional channels
· for search and discovery in publicly available retailer databases
· for item/product-level sales reporting (whether for royalties or for sales data reporting)

Whether you want to get an ISBN or not is up to you. They even suggest having a different one for each eBook format, but I have used the same one for both my Kindle (.mobi) and Nook (.epub) formats of Bonebearer. Read more about ISBNs on isbn.org.

Part / Section Pages
If your text is broken into discreet parts – i.e. Part 1, Part 2, etc – then you should make them on separate pages (with page breaks) as usual. Format it however you wish, but follow the same basic techniques mentioned for the title page: start it a few lines down the page (with spaces on the blank lines to force them to appear in the eReader format), use different sizes/styles of font as needed, and try to keep it in the first half of the page.

I would suggest using a large size font so that the reader knows it's a part / section break. Here's an example of a part break from my novel, Bonebearer:


I have a quote for each part in that novel. You might just have Part 1: Part Name or whatever. As usual, keep it simple and elegant. No need for crazy pictures or too much variation in fonts.

Don't forget that each part / section page needs to be on a separate page with page breaks separating them from the text. It's important!

Table of Contents
Here is one of the most critical parts of your eBook. A properly done Table of Contents will enable the reader to jump around in the book easily and it also meets the standards that Amazon or B&N recommend for their eBook formats. With one in place, it will also display page numbers in the Kindle format.

To create your Table of Contents, you must add a bookmark in each spot that you want to put on the list. So if you have chapters, add a bookmark at the beginning of each chapter. This can be a tedious manual process if your file is quite large and you have a lot of chapters, but you'll only have to do it once and it will be worth it. Why? Because it will look professional and it shows you care about your final product.

To add a bookmark in Word, first place the cursor where you want it, then select Insert -> Bookmark on the toolbar / ribbon:


This will bring up the Bookmark dialog. Type the name of your bookmark in Bookmark name (overwrite whatever is in there, it may show an existing one). I usually do something simple like "C01" (Chapter 1) or "P01" (Part 1) so I can easily identify it later. Click "Add" to add the bookmark. Go through your entire file and add each new bookmark one at a time.

Once that is done, add a new page near the beginning of your file, typically after the copyright page and before the text begins. This will be your Table of Contents page. Format it however you wish and type out the chapter names. Don't bother with page numbers or the full justification that you might see in a physical book. Just simply list everything.

When your list is complete, highlight a chapter name. Right-click and select "Hyperlink." In the Insert Hyperlink dialog, you'll have the option to add a few different types of links. You want to select Place in this Document, then select the name of the bookmark you made for that chapter. Like so:


Click "OK" and the link will be added. Your highlighted text now looks like a link you might see on a web page, but instead it will jump to the bookmark (and thus the chapter) in your text. Repeat this for every chapter name in the Table of Contents.

Yes, it is tedious. But you only have to do it once!

Next Steps
At this point your file should be completely formatted, along with all necessary features for the final eBook. The last step is to convert your eBook to the proper formats and check it in an eReader (or eReader application) to make sure everything is kosher. Check the link below for the continuation.

Next: Convert in Calibre / Verification

Shameless promotion: If you want to see how this all looks in final eBook form, download a free sample of my book in Kindle or Nook formats. You could also try reading it as well. ;)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to Easily Format an eBook [1] Text Formatting

Last month I published my first eBook on Amazon (Bonebearer). I spent quite a bit of time beforehand making sure that the file met the standards and criteria required by Amazon so it wouldn't get rejected. I read through their formatting guidelines and did a lot of research, but in the end the process I used was very simple and doesn't require any knowledge of HTML or CSS (although it never hurts to know the basics). My process is outlined below for both Kindle and Nook.

All you need to do this is a recent version of Microsoft Word (2007 or higher is recommended) and an eBook format converter like Calibre (which I recommend, it's free and very easy to use). The basic steps are:

1. Text Formatting
2. Title Pages / Table of Contents
3. Convert in Calibre

Each step will be covered in a separate blog post. This tutorial works best when your eBook is just simple text, like a novel. If you're doing something with a lot of pictures or special formatting, this tutorial would help with final conversions, but not with making sure special formatting is done right.

Remember, this is a simple method that works for me. There are obviously different ways to go about this, but hopefully this will help someone.

Text Formatting
I use Microsoft Word for all of my word processing. I read about other popular authors shunning Word and basically saying it sucks, but I've never really understood what exactly their problem with the software is, other than those authors being anti-Windows by principle (Piers Anthony, for example). I use it all the time and have no problems with it. What you can't do with built-in functions, you can always automate using VBA (Visual Basic for Applications).

Anyway, formatting text is easy. There are only a few things you really need to pay attention to. Before you do any of the steps below, though, MAKE A BACKUP COPY OF YOUR ORIGINAL FILE. Never go through this process on your only copy.

The font of your text doesn't make a difference, since Kindle or Nook will ignore the font (the reader controls the font he/she wants to see). When formatting, I switch it to something easy to read, like Times New Roman, 12 pt. The important things you need to address are spacing, tabs, font style, special characters, page breaks (for chapters/sections) and chapter headings. We'll go through each below.

Spacing
Select all the text (excluding title pages and pages that don't have straight text) and change all paragraph spacing to a value of 1.0 and make sure it doesn't add a space before or after each paragraph. I believe this kind of spacing is ultimately ignored, but I like removing it all just in case.

Tabs / Indents
eBooks are generally going to ignore tabs, so if you've got them in your file already, it's best to remove them and replace them with fixed indenting. Even if you don't think you have any tabs in your file, do this anyway just in case. To remove tabs, highlight the entire text, and do a Find & Replace (Ctrl+H). Make sure to click "More" to display more options. A tab character is listed under the "Special" dropdown – select it there for the Find what option, or just type in (^t). Replace with should be blank. Like this:


Select "Replace All" and the tabs go away. Now, you must replace them with indents. As long as you've typed your document like most people do (use word wrap and only line break after each paragraph), this will be easy. Highlight all the text again (excluding title pages, etc, as usual), then just move the "First Line Indent" marker on the ruler (circled in the picture below) over about a half inch (less if you really want, anything larger than 0.5" looks like crap when people read the eBook with large fonts):


Alternatively, you can just go into the Paragraph options in Word and under the Indentation section, make sure Special = "First line" and By = 0.5". Like so:


Font Style (Bold, Italics, etc)
If you type up your document the way you might for a publishing house, where the only font style in the file is underlining (to denote italics in a published book), you should replace it so that what you see in Word is how you want it to display in the eReader. So if you want something italicized, change all instances to italics. A typical novel will only use italics. If you must have something bold (perhaps a chapter header, addressed later), then bold it.

To make these changes, do a simple Find & Replace, as mentioned in the Tab section above. Instead of replacing tab characters, though, you'll be replacing font styles (yes, you can do this in Word... easily). Ctrl+H to get to Find & Replace, select "More" to reveal more options and in the Replace section, use the "Format" dropdown and select "Font" to select the style you need to find or replace.

So in my example, replacing underline with italics: in the Font dialog, the only things you should change are Font style and Underline style.

For Find what, you should have these settings:
   Font style = Regular
   Underline style = Normal underline style, the thinnest unbroken line



For Replace with, you should have these settings:
   Font style = Italic
   Underline style = (none)




Always make sure the Preview window shows the desired look before continuing.  In the end, this is what you want to see in the Find and Replace dialog:


Select "Replace All" and viola, the formatting in your entire document has been changed. Easy.

Special Characters
Another thing you'll want to look out for are things like double en dashes (--) which should be turned into em dashes (), or the horizontal ellipsis character (...) that Word likes to replace your normal three periods with if you have it set to AutoCorrect.

For double en dashes, these should appear if you were writing in plain text for potential publishing or manuscript submission.  They are easy to fix.  Just do another Find and Replace (make sure the formatting criteria is removed from the last step), type -- for the Find what and for Replace with select the em dash special character in the "Special" dropdown.

For horizontal ellipses, if you typed your manuscript in plain text it shouldn't be a problem, but if it was in your AutoCorrect list, do another Find and Replace.  Copy the horizontal ellipsis character into Find what and type three periods in Replace with.

It's always a good idea to check the AutoCorrect list in the Word Options, to ensure that it doesn't automatically replace things that could be problematic later.  Even better, just turn it off when you're working on your text.

Page Breaks
If your text is broken up into chapters, sections or parts that are clearly demarcated, you should put a page break at the beginning of each. This will help for when you later add a Table of Contents and it just looks better in the eReader when you jump to that chapter or section.

Page breaks are easy to add, just page down through your document and at the spot where the break needs to occur, place the cursor and select Insert -> Page Break in the Word menu. You can also use the shortcut key of Ctrl+Return. Do this for every spot where you want the content to start on a new page: chapter, section, part, etc.



How you want to do it is up to you – logically you'd want it for every chapter or section, like you would find in a professionally published book. If you're publishing an eBook I'm going to assume you like to read, so just reference some books of your own.


Chapter Headings
How you want to do chapter headings (i.e. chapter name) is also up to you, but you should at least format them differently than the main text so that it's obvious that they're chapter headings. There are a couple of different ways you can do them. I suggest you keep it simple – there's no need to go crazy with graphics or any of that, because that just makes for more formatting that could go wrong somewhere along the line.

The simplest way is to do an italicized header, without an indent (my personal preference). If you've set up the fixed indenting throughout your file (as noted in the Tabs / Indents section), then whenever you press Return/Enter (carriage return) the new line will automatically be indented. To remove it, just slide the First Line Indent marker on the ruler back to 0 (opposite of how we created the indents earlier).  If you look back at the second picture in this post, you'll see where the chapter header is not indented, but each paragraph is.

Here's an example of a simple chapter header:

6: The Northwest Fires

Or if you have chapters without names, just do something like:

Chapter 10

If you want to center it, merely use the Center Text option in Word on your selection (or Ctrl+E). The center formatting will carry through to the final eBook.

If you want your chapter header to be partway down the page, place a few carriage returns before the header and put a space or two on each blank line to ensure that the blank line remains. However – don't put too many blank lines before the header, as it may look goofy in a large font on the eReader. Generally this won't be a problem, because I'd wager most people don't read eBooks with gigantic font - and ultimately there's nothing you can do about that - but it doesn't hurt to keep it in mind.

If you want bigger letters or all caps for the first few words (like you sometimes see in a published novel), format your text accordingly. I personally haven't felt the need to do that yet.

Next Steps
At this point the text of your file should be formatted properly. The next step is to add a Table of Contents, along with a Title Page and any other ancillary pages you might need (section / part breaks, copyright info, etc). Check the link below for the continuation.

Next: Title Pages / Table of Contents

Shameless promotion: If you want to see how this all looks in final eBook form, download a free sample of my book in Kindle or Nook formats. You could also try reading it as well.  ;)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Wheel of Time [6] Lord of Chaos

This is Part 6 of my continuing series of blogs regarding what may possibly be my last re-read of The Wheel of Time, in anticipation of the 14th and final book releasing in 2012. Please see this blog post for an overview of the re-read and why I am blogging about it. Warning: CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE SERIES.  The best way to approach this retrospective is via your own re-read.  If you have not read the entire series yet, you may want to wait on reading this.




Book 6: Lord of Chaos (1994)
This is the last book of the "Action Trilogy," as I've dubbed Books 4-6, and it ends with a bang. The final sequence in this volume, from the capture of Rand to the confrontation at Dumai's Wells, is one of the best in the series. It's a great action sequence and it and the chapters leading up to it are a reminder that when Robert Jordan was on, he was on.

Lord of Chaos is not my favorite book in the series, and it has the verbosity and over-descriptiveness that plague the series from here on out, but it has its moments and as long as it is, it's a good read and is rarely boring. This is a book that shows that intrigue and "talk" among characters can be just as interesting to read about as epic action scenes. And for all their talk the story moves along and provides a satisfying conclusion.

Get some coffee and find a comfortable chair, I have a lot to talk about this time.

Thoughts Then
This was the first WoT novel that I bought in college. I headed off to the University of Nebraska in the fall of 1994, and this book came out soon after, in October. I don't remember buying it or reading it for the first time, but I do know I got it day of release. As I mentioned in the previous blog, since Book 5 (The Fires of Heaven) I have bought each new volume in hardback on the day of release.

University of Nebraska, son!  Go Huskers!

I thought the book was great and the logical continuation of The Fires of Heaven. I was a little disappointed that Rand didn't conquer another country or kill another Forsaken – as he had been doing steadily the last few volumes – so I was starting to wonder how long it would take for Jordan to get this done. At this point I figured that Rand would take over the world before Tarmon Gai'don, and at this rate it would take another 4 or 5 books to do so. Of course, I never imagined that it would take even more than that – no fantasy series had been so epic in scope before this, so any continuous story longer than 9 books was pretty much unheard of to me. I just kept reading.

I also didn't like the title at first, because it messed with the pattern of each book starting with "The." It doesn't look odd now, but it did back then, when the list of WoT books stopped at Lord of Chaos. Usually fantasy series have some sort of naming convention across each book, which continues today. Jordan kind of threw it out the window halfway through.

Thoughts Now
I appreciate this book a lot more now than I did some 17 years ago. Unfortunately, that appreciation only comes from the fact that I've read all 13 volumes out now, and I know what is to come and how it all fits together. Re-reading this one in particular at this point opened my eyes a little and I've come to appreciate the careful planning and thought Jordan put into the entire series. People might say that not much happens in this book. In reality a lot happens.

The remaining Forsaken all finally appear, and we learn where a few of them are hiding. The Dark One makes his (its?) first appearance. Elayne and Nynaeve learn all kinds of cool things from Moghedien. Nynaeve does something so cool (Healing Logain/Siuan/Leane) that you will instantly forgive all the braid-tugging and whining she has done the last two volumes (and there's a lot of that). Egwene becomes Amyrlin of the rebels. The Black Tower is founded and a new group in the Asha'man are introduced. Gateways become a staple in the series – no more travelling on foot for our heroes, a serious disadvantage against the Forsaken. Rand is captured, Aes Sedai swear fealty for the first time ever. And on and on.

The content and structure of the books in the series now are very different from the first few, which were more about doing and familiarizing the reader with the world rather than talking and occasionally doing. Lord of Chaos is a great example of both types done well together. Even when people are talking and scheming, the story is moving forward, and there's a whole new world post-Dragon to familiarize yourself with.

The Inaccurate Cover
But first... we continue my rants against the Darrell Sweet covers. I will never relent! Never!

This one is okay, but in the vein of The Dragon Reborn it is a bit inaccurate in that it depicts something that didn't happen in the book. If you don't know what it is, just look above Rand's shoulder. His left shoulder... yeah, up there by the title of the book. What is that?

Jordan... did you even get a chance to look at the cover before publication?

It's a... Draghkar? If you said to yourself, "there weren't any Shadowspawn at Dumai's Wells," then you are this blog post's lucky winner! You would be correct; there weren't any Draghkar, much less Shadowspawn, at Dumai's Wells. So why is one on the cover?

Why ask why? It's a Darrell Sweet cover.

The Birth of the Epic Prologue
This volume had the first of the epic prologues Jordan started writing in the second half of the series. These prologues were novellas in themselves, the later ones over 90 pages on occasion, usually touching on a number of minor characters and story threads to remind you that he hasn't forgotten about them, and that they'll be important fairly soon (although sometimes "fairly soon" meant 2 novels later).

Only Robert Jordan would have the gall and wherewithal to write such epic prologues. But along with that, he had necessity. From Book 6 forward there are so many plotlines and minor characters, it was necessary to spend the first 90 pages doing a kind of "meanwhile, back in (insert location here)..." No other fiction writer or series I've ever read has done prologues like these. They became a staple of WoT, and when the novels became consistent #1 New York Times Bestsellers, they even started releasing the prologues as eBooks prior to publication (beginning with Book 9, Winter's Heart) – for a price, of course.

I'll talk more about that when I get to those books. Suffice to say I understand the point behind releasing them, but I did not buy them. I wanted to experience the entire book at once, not piecemeal.

Where/Who is Demandred?
I personally have always thought this was a bigger (and more important) mystery than "Who Killed Asmodean?" Demandred makes his first on-screen appearance in Lord of Chaos, and appears occasionally throughout the rest of the series – but we are never explicitly told exactly who he is or where he is hiding. By Book 13, we essentially know the whereabouts of all the remaining Forsaken aside from Demandred.

The biggest and most popular theory has been that Mazrim Taim, the leader of the Black Tower and the Asha'man (as founded by Rand in this volume), is Demandred in disguise. They look very similar, and Lews Therin consistently rants about killing Demandred when Rand meets with Taim at various points in the story. However, Jordan threw a wrench into the gears by explicitly stating that Taim is not Demandred on a number of occasions.

Portrait from the "Big White Book"

It's hard to accept that Taim is not Demandred, given all the matching information between them. But in reality, he is most likely part of the Black Tower, and has been directing/assisting Taim this whole time. In the FAQ link above Jordan also said that as of Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight, we hadn't seen Demandred's alter ego on-screen yet. Given the content of the 3 books after that, I can only imagine that Demandred's activities will finally be revealed in the final volume. My money is on the Black Tower somehow. Logain will probably be involved.

Oh, and for the record... I hate pronouncing the name Taim as "Ta-eem." I still pronounce it "Taym," one of the few WoT terms I pronounce incorrectly. I know you said it's "Ta-eem," Jordan, but that one is a bit awkward and doesn't stick in my mind, no matter how hard I try. I was able to get Faile (fah-eel) and Shaido (shah-ee-do), but not Taim. Sorry. In later years he always started signings with a pronunciation spiel, probably because he got fed up with the mispronunciations.




The Healing
Speaking of Logain, Nynaeve managed to do something really cool in this book: she healed stilling / severing. I remember when I first read this, I thought it was the coolest thing ever and had to re-read it a few times. Siuan's and Leane's reactions make for a very moving scene. This is also one of those iconic moments in the series that sticks with you.

It's funny, because Nynaeve is super annoying up until that part. I mean, so annoying that I didn't really want to read her chapters at all. A woman glaring at a man and having them suddenly run away or trip or something is unfortunately quite overused in this series. At this point it's a joke when it happens, and it happens a lot. Virtually all the women do it. I didn't remember it happening this much in Lord of Chaos, but it does.

Anyway, after the Healing, Nynaeve is alright again. She tends to do that in this series. Gets annoying and then does something really cool and becomes your bud again. She does it a couple more times... I'll be sure to mention them when they come along.

Rand, Lews Therin and the Madness
Another notable thing about this volume is that Lews Therin really comes to the forefront here. He started muttering in Rand's head in the last book, The Fires of Heaven, but he really gets going here, even going so far as to try and grab saidin from Rand, which we can all agree is not a good thing (at least not in this volume). This makes for an interesting new dynamic, and really drives home the fact that Rand needs to do something about the madness, or get going on Tarmon Gai'don, or he won't be sane enough to fight the Dark One.

The emergence of Lews Therin makes for some really killer scenes in the later volumes, and if you've read past Book 12, The Gathering Storm (which you should have if you're reading this), you know how struggle between Rand and Lews Therin is resolved. But it's new territory here and provides a lot of tension. Will Rand make it? Or will he go mad before it's all over?

Rand as a character eventually leaves behind most of his former self here. He has to deal with the new stuff in his head (Lews Therin, Alanna's bonding), upholding the laws he makes (hanging of Mangin), balancing a dozen different groups with different desires, not to mention the Aes Sedai betrayal that sets up Dumai's Wells.

Speaking of Mangin, in my opinion his fate is about the most shocking event in the entire series. Far worse than the "gasp moment" much talked about prior to the Knife of Dreams release. I didn't want Rand to hang Mangin at all. Yet he does and it's very cold, and as a reader you're in disbelief that Mangin accepts it and goes to his death willingly. It's one of those moments where you stop reading and sit there and think about it for a while. How could anyone accept that?

Hints About Other Lands
The series has always focused primarily on Randland – the small continent where virtually all the action takes place. Of course we know about the Seanchan and that they live on a large continent across the Aryth Ocean to the west. The land of Shara, beyond the Aiel Waste, is mentioned occasionally in the series and it's always been a bit of a mystery. There is even another continent, called the Land of Madmen, which was revealed in the "Big White Book" (The World of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time) after Book 7 was released.

The entire Wheel of Time world.

In the past I've always wondered why Jordan hasn't explored much of these other lands. Tarmon Gai'don will affect the entire world, so shouldn't they be involved? Apparently in past re-reads I missed the thoughts of Sammael, when he meets with Graendal to discuss Forsaken matters (Chapter 6, "Threads Woven of Shadow"). His thoughts explain why everything is fixed on the Randland continent:



Was she trying to divert him toward the lands beyond the Waste by making him think she an interest there? The battlefield was here. The Great Lord's first touch when he broke free would land here. The rest of the world would be whipped by the fringes of storms, even racked by storms, but those storms would generate here.
Makes sense – the Bore and the hole in the Dark One's Prison is in the Blight north of Randland and the Waste. Those are the places where it touches the most and where the battle will be fought. While I have always wished to read about happenings in Seanchan and Shara itself, perhaps even incorporate the Land of Madmen into the story somehow, it's obvious with only one volume left that those lands will never feature prominently in the story. We just have the Seanchan invasions.

Just more of that fantasy mystique that makes some series great. Keep the reader curious so they keep reading. Jordan does that very well using both the other lands in the world and occasional stories / memories of the Age of Legends from the Forsaken and Lews Therin.

Reborn Forsaken
Having some of the Forsaken reborn is something that has always bothered me about the series. I guess the Dark One really can't find anyone else good enough to do his bidding, so he just recycles the ones that he can (those killed by balefire cannot be recovered, as they are burned out of the pattern). This trend starts here, in Lord of Chaos, and we are introduced to a couple of new "Dreadlords," Aran'gar and Osan'gar.

Now, these two are in fact Balthamel and Aginor, respectively, from The Eye of the World fame, where they were quickly killed by Rand and Moiraine. When I first read about these new guys, I was kind of like, "eh, okay" and wasn't too thrilled about it. It makes more sense to me now, but for a long while the "reborn" Forsaken bothered me. I'm not sure why, I suppose I wanted Jordan to come up with some new Dreadlords. Like Padan Fain, though he's completely disappeared at this point. Or possibly Mazrim Taim – a topic for a further blog.

It always seemed to me that Jordan might have just thrown them in as the series expanded and was successful, which gave him carte blanche to do whatever he wanted. However, according to this CNN chat from way back in Dec 2000, Aran'gar and Osan'gar were planned from the beginning. He also was asked about the series "taking on a life of its own," which he firmly disabused. Considering how much planning went into the series (he worked on it 6 years before the first novel was published), I'm inclined to believe him.

Dumai's Wells
And at last we come to it – considered by many to be the greatest action sequence in the entire series (though I hope Tarmon Gai'don puts it to shame). The capture of Rand, the chase and ultimate rescue is a great sequence, masterfully written, and I get goose bumps reading the last few pages of it every time. Asha'man and Perrin's wolves appear in a major battle for the first time, a half-dozen different armies on the field. It's one of those sections that you just can't put down and you have to read it for yourself to appreciate it.

Jordan has a trend of ending each book with an awesome confrontation or action sequence, even in the later books which on the whole don't contain much action. He always ends with some kind of cliffhanger or major event that makes you hate him for taking 2 years to release the next book. For Lord of Chaos was the last book released in the yearly cycle – the next would not come for 2 years.

Which made the waiting worse, especially after a sequence like Dumai's Wells. What would the world be like where Aes Sedai obey the Dragon Reborn? With Asha'man finally playing their part and being regulars in the storyline? The order of channelers for the last 3000 years is truly turned upside-down for good with the end of this book. It is a pivotal point in the series. I would almost call it the halfway point; everything before it was building up for this moment, and now we go in a different direction in a new Randland, for better or worse.

Of special note is the eBook artwork for this volume, by Greg Manchess, which depicts the battle at Dumai's Wells (really, there was no other choice for the cover). It's a great piece, and puts anything Darrell K. Sweet does to shame. This video showing the painting process is pretty awesome:




You can see the full picture here. The audio comes from the audio book for Lord of Chaos. Note that the reader pronounces "Shaido" wrong. I wonder if Jordan knew that and it factored into him starting pronunciation spiels at signings.

But anyway, thank you, Greg Manchess, for doing such a great job on this cover, and thank you, Tor, for putting together that awesome video. If only we had this cover from the start.

Next:
Book 7 – A Crown of Swords
 
Previous:
Book 5 – The Fires of Heaven
Book 4 – The Shadow Rising
Book 3 – The Dragon Reborn
Book 2 – The Great Hunt
Book 1 – The Eye of the World