Want to read The Wheel of Time books in order? With The Wheel of Time season 2 finally hitting our screens this September, there's never been a better time to dive into this rich fantasy world.
If you're unfamiliar with the series, The Wheel of Time is a highly-regarded set of high fantasy novels penned by Robert Jordan. Jordan produced his best-selling novels between 1990-2005; after his passing in 2007, fellow fantasy magnate Brandon Sanderson was brought in to help finish the final three books in the series and ensure the entire story got wrapped up the way it was intended.
The world of The Wheel of Time made its way to our TV screens back in late 2021 after showrunner Rafe Judkins developed the show for Prime Video. 2022 was dominated by the lead-up to the first season of The Rings of Power, but we're back in Randland in 2023. Throughout the year, we've been drip-fed info about the new season (based on books two and three) which finally lands with a three-episode premiere on September 1, 2023.
Whether you're a longtime fan planning a reread or a new person approaching the series for the very first time, we've put together this guide to help you if you want to read the Wheel of Time books in order.
How to read the Wheel of Time books in order
If you just want to jump right into Robert Jordan's world, the reading order we'd recommend is:
- The Eye of the World (1990)
- The Great Hunt (1990)
- The Dragon Reborn (1991)
- The Shadow Rising (1992)
- The Fires of Heaven (1993)
- New Spring (2004)
- Lord of Chaos (1994)
- A Crown of Swords (1996)
- The Path of Daggers (1998)
- Winter's Heart (2000)
- Crossroads of Twilight (2003)
- Knife of Dreams (2005)
- The Gathering Storm (2009)
- Towers of Midnight (2010)
- A Memory of Light (2013)
The only major problem you'll encounter when you look at the Wheel of Time reading order is where you want to read New Spring, the prequel novel that was published in 2004.
Although New Spring is a prequel to the main saga, it is not designed to introduce you to the world in the same way that the first full novel, The Eye of the World does. New Spring is set 20 years prior to the events of the main saga, but the book is quite lore-heavy and presumes you are at least somewhat familiar with the events of the earlier books. Plus, if you pick it up first, it will spoil some of the events in the first few novels.
But if you're not going to read New Spring before the other fourteen novels, where should you fit it in? There's actually a fair bit of disagreement over the best time to fit it in. Some fans would suggest reading the books in publishing order in order to break up the main narrative (meaning you'd read New Spring after Crossroads of Twilight), whilst others might suggest you should leave it right till the very end, after A Memory of Light.
The earliest we think you can comfortably read New Spring is after you've finished The Fires of Heaven, if it's your first time reading through Jordan's novels. At this point, the prequel will offer some interesting context for future events, without properly spoiling anything that happens in the first few books. Ultimately, that's why we've placed it where it is in our recommended reading order (in sixth place), though every other suggestion is just as valid a choice, frankly.
Once you've decided on where you're going to slot New Spring in, you're free to follow the books by release order, as The Wheel of Time's story unfolds chronologically.
If you'd prefer to pick up the series digitally, you can pick the ebooks up at the Amazon Kindle Store. The whole series is also available as audiobooks; Audible has also produced a version of the first book narrated by Rosamund Pike.
There are also two additional books worth mentioning if you become a die-hard fan: The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, and The Wheel of Time Companion. Although neither book is fundamental to understanding the main story, they're definitely worth picking up if can't get enough of Robert Jordan's world.
Jordan kept meticulous notes whilst writing the books, and these companion books expand on what happens across the saga by revealing unknown people, lands, and legends that will deepen your understanding of the Wheel of Time, even though neither is truly essential reading if you just want to know the main story.
How long will it take to read the Wheel of Time?
There's no easy way around this: tackling all 14 Wheel of Time books is a pretty big task. The paperbacks average out at 826 pages apiece.
The shortest book is the prequel, New Spring, which is 334 pages, whereas the shortest mainline book is The Path of Daggers, which still clocks in at 672 pages long.
To put that into perspective, listening to all fifteen audiobooks will take you about 461 hours, or just over 19 full days. Basically, if you sit down to read or listen to the Wheel of Time books in order, you're in for the long haul.
Why should you read the Wheel of Time books?
Jordan's novels come very highly recommended and have sold more than 90 million copies to date, and it's easy to see why. If you're a fantasy fan already, they offer so much for you to get your teeth into.
To try and summarise the basic premise, The Wheel of Time is a struggle between good and evil. According to prophecy, a reincarnation of The Dragon—"The Dragon Reborn"—is set to appear. The Dragon is the leader of the Light, a champion who will be able to unite the many kingdoms and peoples of the world against the forces of the Dark One, an evil entity bent on breaking free of his prison and devastating the world.
The nameless world in which The Wheel of Time is set is richly developed, as Jordan brings his universe to life in painstaking detail. Plus, there's a huge range of characters to fall in love with, and plenty of magic and monsters to meet along the way.
If you enjoy classic high fantasy such as J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings or George R. R. Martin's Game of Thrones series and you're looking to become completely obsessed with a new, richly detailed fantasy universe, you'll feel right at home with Robert Jordan's books.
How faithful is The Wheel of Time show to the books?
With a saga this big (there are more than 4 million words in those books), a one-to-one translation of the books was never going to happen, and as such, a lot of material was cut from the original books, leading to changes to several storylines from the original books.
That means that there are people and places that we haven't been to or met, and some new scenes and characters have been introduced to tell this version of the story instead, such as the introduction of Perrin's wife, Laila in season one, giving even more context to the character's struggle with violence.
How to watch The Wheel of Time
The Wheel of Time season 2 premieres on Prime Video on Friday, September 1, with the first three episodes dropping at once and the remaining five dropping on a weekly basis.
Get the What to Watch Newsletter
The latest updates, reviews and unmissable series to watch and more!
Martin is a Staff Writer with WhatToWatch.com, where he produces a variety of articles focused on the latest and greatest films and TV shows.
Some of his favorite shows are What We Do In The Shadows, Bridgerton, Gangs of London, The Witcher, Doctor Who, and Ghosts. When he’s not watching TV or at the movies, Martin’s probably still in front of a screen playing the latest video games, reading, or watching the NFL.