2 Ways to Read Wheel of Time Books in Order by Robert Jordan

Wheel of Time Reading Order

Before we get started, I have a small confession. I’ve never read the Wheel of Time. So why am I writing a post on the Wheel of Time reading order?

Bear with me here.

Don’t hit that back button just yet.

I know you went for it.

Just like you, I’m interested in reading the Wheel of Time. Why? Because it’s super popular and they’ve made a TV show, so I should probably get up on that.

And so I say to myself, “Self, if you are curious about the Wheel of Time reading order, then surely other people are too.”

And why should we all have to struggle to figure it out? So I’ve done all the hard work for you. Keep reading for a list of 2 ways to read the Wheel of Time books in order.

Who Wrote The Wheel of Time?

Now, you might (or might not) be aware that Robert Jordan, the author of the Wheel of Time, did not write all 15 books in the Wheel of Time series.

Why not?

Because Robert Jordan died before he could complete the series and it was finished by fantasy favorite Brandon Sanderson.

Does that mean the last three books are drastically different from what Robert Jordan would have written?

No.

On the contrary, Robert Jordan had the series completely planned out and Brandon Sanderson held true to Robert Jordan’s original vision.

Yes, the last three books in the series (The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and A Memory of Light) were written by Brandon Sanderson, but it is most definitely still Robert Jordan’s story.

Wheel of Time TV Show

The long-anticipated TV show has finally arrived. The Wheel of Time premiered on Amazon Prime on November 19, 2021 with the finale airing on Christmas Eve. All eight episodes are now available to stream, but fans of the books have already had mixed reactions over the extent of creative changes in the show.

If you’re a dedicated book fan, and don’t mind spoilers, you might want to know about some of the core changes from the beloved books. You can find out more about that here, along with information regarding a second season, which has already been confirmed.

Before the premiere, and after, showrunner Rafe Judkins said that the deviations from the books might lose the core book fans, which was a risk Amazon was willing to take. The announcement of a second season came before the series even premiered and filming is underway with a strong likelihood of a 2022 release.

Regardless of your opinion on the show’s direction, it is undeniable that it had a successful debut. The Wheel of Time was Amazon Prime’s most watched series premiere of the year and in the platform’s top five series launches of all time.

I would recommend reading the books before diving into the TV show if you’re looking for an immersive high fantasy experience. But if you’re already a fan of the books, check out the first season for yourself to see how this adaptation compares to Robert Jordan’s world.

Audible Wheel of Time reading order

Wheel of Time Reading Order

With a little research, I discovered that there are 15 books in the series, but that one of them is a prequel.

And to throw a wrench in there, that prequel was written a decade after the first book.

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to give you TWO Wheel of Time reading orders.

Why?

Well because I’m OCD about my books, and some of you are not.

The first reading order for the Wheel of Time books is what I like to call the “Purist” version. That is the group of people who want to read the books in Publication order, the same way they were enjoyed by the series’ original readers back in the 90s.

The second Wheel of Time book order is what I call the “Chronologist” version. This is the reading order for those who want to read the series based on the timeline of the world.

Really, there’s only one major difference. And that’s where you put the prequel.

Do you put it at the beginning, where a prequel belongs? Or do you put it in publication order?

Enough with the chatter, let’s hop to it!

Wheel of Time Reading Order by Publication Date

I won’t beat around the bush anymore, here’s the Wheel of Time books in order by publication date:

  1. The Eye of the World – 15 January 1990
  2. The Great Hunt – 15 November 1990
  3. The Dragon Reborn – 15 October 1991
  4. The Shadow Rising – 15 September 1992
  5. The Fires of Heaven – 15 October 1993
  6. Lord of Chaos – 15 October 1994
  7. A Crown of Swords – 15 May 1996
  8. The Path of Daggers – 20 October 1998
  9. Winter’s Heart – 7 November 2000
  10. Crossroads of Twilight – 7 January 2003
  11. New Spring – 6 January 2004
  12. Knife of Dreams – 11 October 2005
  13. The Gathering Storm – 27 October 2009
  14. Towers of Midnight – 2 November 2010
  15. A Memory of Light -8 January 2013
Wheel of Time Reading Order Eye of The World

Wheel of Time Books in Chronological Order

But for those of you who’d rather read the Wheel of Time in chronological order:

  1. New Spring – 6 January 2004
  2. The Eye of the World – 15 January 1990
  3. The Great Hunt – 15 November 1990
  4. The Dragon Reborn – 15 October 1991
  5. The Shadow Rising – 15 September 1992
  6. The Fires of Heaven – 15 October 1993
  7. Lord of Chaos – 15 October 1994
  8. A Crown of Swords – 15 May 1996
  9. The Path of Daggers – 20 October 1998
  10. Winter’s Heart – 7 November 2000
  11. Crossroads of Twilight – 7 January 2003
  12. Knife of Dreams – 11 October 2005
  13. The Gathering Storm – 27 October 2009
  14. Towers of Midnight – 2 November 2010
  15. A Memory of Light -8 January 2013

Just be aware that this method of reading is only recommended for those who are re-reading Wheel of Time. I have it on good authority from a Wheel of Time fan that New Spring is not a good entrance point into the series, and would be a rather confusing place to begin.

So if you’re new to Wheel of Time, like me, then stick with the Purist reading order.

Looking for more books in order?

Check out my list of Legend of Drizzt Books in Order.

11 thoughts on “2 Ways to Read Wheel of Time Books in Order by Robert Jordan

  1. I am in the middle of rereading WoT. Actually listening on Audible. Its great for taking up downtime (like while driving). 5 Books in and should finish sometime this fall (if I do not take a 3 month break to reread Harry Potter).
    I would not suggest to someone starting the series to begin with New Spring. Its a great backgrounder, but not a starting point. It took 3 books to really understand the Aes Sedai BS. Starting out in the Tower is incomprehensible.

    1. Great suggestion Andrew. I’ll update the post a little later to mention that. I imagine it’s still an option for those rereading that want a purely chronological experience?

  2. The world lost a great sci-fi author when Brandon passed. I still have the complete series of The Wheel of Time and look forward to watching the movie. Brandon did a great job finishing the series in the way Robert wanted it done. I go back every now and then and reread the entire series, I do that with many of my favorite reads.

  3. If you’ve never read The Wheel of Time before, then I recommend reading New Spring after Book 2, The Great Hunt. The reason for this is that New Spring contains spoilers for scenes in the first two books that will completely change the reader’s perspective of several characters and their motives and many scenes would not have the same impact with this foreknowledge. By partway through Book 2, all the secrets of New Springs are revealed, and the prequel can be safely read at any time after this point.

    If it’s not your first time reading at least the first few books, then by all means, start with the prequel.

    1. You’re absolutely right. I wouldn’t recommend the chronological reading path for anyone but fans doing a re-read. That’s the case for almost any series.

      Personally, I always prefer publication order, because if it’s good enough for original readers, it’s good enough for me.

      The one exception is for mega series like Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere where the author has actually come out with their recommended reading order. The author knows best in those instances!

  4. WOT is pretty good say,6.5 out of 10.cant hold a candle to LOTR or the hainish cycle from leGuin (or Earthsea).Good enough to read 2-3 times.Good story but lots of filler (more in later books)E.G. he never mentions a warder without something about their “eye-wrenching cloaks”. After a dozen times I just want to call him up and say”enough about the fucking cloaks,already”. Series would be afew thousand pages shorter w/o all the fat.Sometimes reads like Jordan was paid by the word.

  5. Please revise your suggestion to read the Prequel first. As other commenters alluded,, it is more of a delightful insight into a curious relationship, NOT part of the WoT story that follows Rand al Thor and Friends.. and enemies…. and the age old bottle between good and evil, Light & Dark..

    1. It’s not a suggestion to read it that way. It’s simply an option. I always list books in chronological order in these sorts of lists. And there’s a disclaimer that you should NOT read it that way if you’ve never read the series.

      But some people like to know where all the books belong if arranged in a timeline of events. So it is an appropriate list.

  6. The series desperately needs an editor. The first four books were fantastic. But the main plot slowed way down and got stuck on bit characters. I have good friends who just stopped reading because the plot stopped advancing. It’s a shame because the finish/resolution aka the last three books is fantastic.

    So my recommendation is read the first seven/eight books. Then skip to book 13 and read the last three.

    Then go back and read the prequel which is a good story worth reading but full of spoilers.

    Tai Shar Manatheren

  7. Found your post searching for a recommended order for the last three books. As released, those will put a crimp in any attempt to read in “chronological” order. Why? Because Jordan intended them to be a single, last massive volume and Brandon wrote them that way, then he, Harriet (Robert’s widow and editor) and the publishers at Tor agreed it wasn’t feasible. They broke it into three books, which *mostly* works, but in order to make three satisfying books a lot of events in Towers of Midnight take place before the climax of The Gathering Storm. This can get confusing because several characters move around a fair bit and it gets tricky keeping track of what events have or haven’t happened in different POV chapters.

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