Hard to believe I purchased this book 18 years ago in a grocery store. Back then, since I didn't have such a wonderful website to help me find the next great novel to read, I followed cover artists. If a book had cover art by Michael Whelan or Darrell K. Sweet, and was in the fantasy genre, I would scan the synopsis and usually purchase it. And so starts the love/hate relationship I now have with the Wheel of Time series. When I first started reading this novel, I had no idea that 18 years later I would still not know the ending. That I would see beloved and hated characters come and go and come again. I've been thrilled, excited, angry and bored to tears at times while reading this entire series. But this first book was the best. You get to know all the main characters and you feel swept up in events as if you were along for the ride with them. Of all the characters I meet in this first novel, three rise to the top and stay there as my all-time favorites. Nynaeve, Moiraine and Lan. That's right. Rand al'Thor is not one of my favorite characters. Granted we wouldn't have a story without him, but as the story progresses I like him less and less. Perrin is another favorite and comes in closely on the heels of Lan in my rankings. Since the final book* is scheduled to be published an the fall of 2009, I have a whole year to re-read this series. I'm actually looking forward to re-reading this book and the Great Hunt. Perhaps my enthusiasm for the others will increase as I re-acquaint myself with the characters and the convoluted plots and subplots. * As many of you know, the final book, A Memory of Light, will now be three books published one a year for the next three years. Brandon Sanderson sent the final revisions for The Gathering Storm to Tor recently. He's currently working on the second installment, under the working title Shifting Winds.