The Wheel of Time Books Ranked
By: Preston Simmons | Written: 13 Oct 2021
There are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time. But it was A Beginning.
*Warning: This post will contain some spoilers for the series*
The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (finished by Brandon Sanderson) is arguably one of the best epic fantasy series ever written. The series is an excellent introduction to the fantasy genre as a whole, and it’s soon to be adapted for television by Amazon.
The new show will bring new fans to the series who will want to start reading the books. It’s a massive series with 14 books, including a prequel.
Inevitably with such a large amount of books, some of them will be better than others. In addition, before the 12th book was released, Robert Jordan, the creator of the series, passed away. Brandon Sanderson, the author of the Cosmere books, took over and finished the Wheel of Time with the last three books.
Because of the number of books and the change of authors, questions arise: which Wheel of Time books are the best? Are Brandon Sanderson’s the worst books in the series? Does Sanderson improve on Jordan’s writings? Is the first half of the Wheel of Time better than the second half?
Let’s find out!
Here is the Wheel of Time books ranked!
Related: The Cosmere Books Ranked!
Wanna test your knowledge on the Wheel of Time? Take the Wheel of Time Trivia Quiz and see how much you know about the series! Think you can get a perfect score?
*Final Warning: This post will contain some spoilers for the series*
#15 – Crossroads of Twilight (Book 10)
At number 15 in The Wheel of Time books ranked is Crossroads of Twilight. This is, by far, the weakest book of the series. One of the biggest criticisms of the series is that there is a “slog”. If there is a slog, this is the book that epitomizes it.
Simply put, nothing significant happens at all. Plotlines drag, a certain character becomes even more annoying because of her “babes”, and most importantly, little to no Rand. Of all the books on the list, this is the one you want to get through as quickly as possible.
#14 – Winter’s Heart (Book 9)
At number 14 in The Wheel of Time books ranked is Winter’s Heart, book 9 in the series. Unlike Crossroads of Twilight, Winter’s Heart has one of the best endings in the entire series. Unfortunately, it takes 34 chapters of uninteresting storylines to get there. The biggest issue is that nothing overly interesting happens in the chapters leading up to the finale.
The prologue, however, is one of the most emotionally gripping moments in the series, but again, between the prologue and the climax, the book drags.
Overall, this is where the majority of fans believe slog begins, and I would agree.
#13 – New Spring (Prequel Novella)
At number 13 on the list for The Wheel of Time books ranked is New Spring, the prequel novella. Honestly, the rest of the books on the list are all great entries from here on out. Winter’s Heart and Crossroads of Twilight aren’t bad books; they just aren’t as memorable as the rest in the series. New Spring, like the last two books on the list, isn’t that memorable either. Nothing extraordinary happens, and there are no new revelations about any of the characters. Because of that, it cannot be considered one of the best books in the series.
However, New Spring is a good book. It does a great job at giving us more information about Moiraine, Lan, and Siuan and their pasts, as well as giving us another look at the White Tower before the Dragon Reborn shook the world. If you love Moiraine, you’ll love this book. I love Moiraine, so I thought the book was great (but short). Unfortunately, it just wasn’t as important as any of the other books in the series (including Winter’s Heart and Crossroads of Twilight).
It’s a well-written detour from the main plot that ultimately serves little purpose other than character building.
#12 – The Path of Daggers (Book 8)
At number 12 on the list of The Wheel of Time books ranked is The Path of Daggers, book 8 in the series. This has one of the best beginnings of any book in the series, with the girls fixing the weather with the Bowl of the Winds, pictured above in the cover art.
Also, this book shows the consequences of Rand using his powers to the fullest. It’s one of the lowest points for him mentally in the series, and Jordan excellently portrays his psychological deterioration.
Unfortunately, like the other novels so far on the list, this book’s ending feels like a buildup to future plots rather than having an epic conclusion of its own. Additionally, the book ends abruptly, leaving the reader feeling underwhelmed.
#11 – A Crown of Swords (Book 7)
Number 11 on The Wheel of Time books ranked is A Crown of Swords, book 7 in the series. This book has one of my favorite side plots in the series; Mat, Nynaeve, and Elayne in Ebou Dar and their search for the Bowl of the Winds.
Up until this point, Mat hasn’t had much interaction with the main girls in the series since book three because he’s been too busy dealing with his problems. For him, so much has changed between books 3 and 7 that seeing his interactions with them here was fantastic.
Unfortunately, his plot also consists of one of the most controversial moments in the entire series that will more than likely leave a terrible taste in your mouth after reading it. Because they are in Mat’s POV, the events are portrayed as humorous, even though what’s happening is disturbing.
Other than that, Egwene and Rand’s chapters are enjoyable but nothing spectacular.
#10 – Eye of the World (Book 1)
Coming in at number 10 in The Wheel of Time books ranked is the one that started it all, The Eye of the World, book one in the series. Out of all the entries in the series, this book is the most unique. You can tell that Robert Jordan was taking inspiration from other novels like Lord of the Rings and other classics when you read it.
EotW follows a very familiar hero’s journey structure and, to an extent, feels more young adult than pure adult fantasy. The Eye of the World feels like a prologue to the series, while in a way, it also feels like its own standalone book. It’s almost as if Robert Jordan wrote it in a way that if The Wheel of Time didn’t get approved by publishers as a complete series, the Eye of the World would still work as a one-off.
#9 – The Dragon Reborn (Book 3)
Number 9 in The Wheel of Time books ranked is the Dragon Reborn, book 3 in the series. There were so many enjoyable scenes in this book that I loved, but all of them belonged to Mat Cauthon.
In the previous two books, Mat was never my favorite character. He was annoying, mean, selfish, and overall the weakest link in the party (all explained and necessary to the plot). Little did I know how much I would come to love Mat throughout the series, and in the Dragon Reborn, it’s where it all began.
The book’s highlights were Mat’s fight with Gawyn and Galad, Mat’s rescue of Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne, and Rand’s battle with Ishamael in the Stone of Tear.
#8 – The Great Hunt (Book 2)
Next on The Wheel of Time books ranked is The Great Hunt, book 2 in the series. Earlier I mentioned how I felt that The Eye of the World felt more like a prologue to the series. The Great Hunt is where I would say The Wheel of Time becomes more epic fantasy than Young Adult, signaling the actual start of the series.
A lot of incredible character building happens in this book, but Egwene’s is excellent. This book shapes her for the rest of the series and makes her one of the most compelling characters to read about.
The climax of this book is also arguably one of the best in the entire series.
#7 – Knife of Dreams (Book 11)
Number 7 on The Wheel of Time books ranked list is Knife of Dreams, book 11 in the series. This is Robert Jordan’s final released book before he passed away, but because of this book, he set the story up perfectly for Brandon Sanderson.
In this book, many multiple-book-long plot lines are concluded in satisfying ways. Perrin finally moves on from the Faile rescue arc, Elayne finishes her claiming the throne arc, Mat and Tuon’s romance is put on a hiatus for more important things, and Loial is married.
But the absolute best part of this book belongs to Nynaeve. Her traveling to the Borderlands and rallying the people is one of the highlights of the entire series.
#6 – The Gathering Storm (Book 12)
Next on the list of The Wheel of Time books ranked is The Gathering Storm, book 12 in the series. First, The Gathering Storm is notable because it’s the first book written by Brandon Sanderson in the series.
When Sanderson took over for Jordan, Fans were wary because Jordan had a particular writing style that would be hard to emulate. Fans were also worried that Sanderson would try too hard to sound like Jordan in his prose and ultimately fail.
They were also scared that Sanderson would take the series in a direction that Jordan would never have. Fortunately, Sanderson not only put most fans’ worries to rest, but he also accomplished the seemingly impossible; he improved upon the series.
The Gathering Storm contains so many memorable moments in the series that deserve recognition. I loved Rand’s mental breakdown and subsequent rebirth. Egwene’s confrontation with Elaida and her return to the rebels to reveal the darkfriends in the camp reignited my love for Egwene. Who could forget that bombshell of a reveal by Verin?
So many unforgettable moments all in one book, and Brandon Sanderson proved that the series was in good hands.
#5 – The Towers of Midnight (Book 13)
Number 5 on The Wheel of Time books ranked list is Towers of Midnight, book 13 in the series. The Towers of Midnight is a fantastic book, and in my opinion, the most fun book in the series.
Perrin and Mat were the biggest highlights of this book by far. In this book, Perrin has probably the third most memorable line in the entire series earning him his nickname Perrin “It’s just a weave” Aybara. Not to mention Perrin forging one of the coolest hammers ever, proving he’s more than “just a blacksmith” once and for all.
Mat and his incredible rescue in the Tower is probably one of the best moments in the entire series and solidifies why he’s my second favorite character in The Wheel of Time.
#4 – The Fires of Heaven (Book 5)
Next on the list for The Wheel of Time books ranked is The Fires of Heaven, book 5 in the series. This book is excellent because of Mat and Rand’s development as characters.
For Rand, in the previous books (not so much in The Shadow Rising), he had been very hesitant in being a true leader of men as the Dragon Reborn. But here, he finally has fully stepped up to his role and does what needs to be done. Not only that, but he also becomes wise and listens to Moiraine for once. It only took five books, but he fulfills some of the potential that Moiraine sees in him.
For Mat, this is where he becomes amazing. He forms the Band of the Red Hand, uses his memories to become the best general of the age, and shows how amazing he is in combat. He also starts to claim that he’s “no bloody hero” but does everything possible to show the opposite.
Finally, Moiraine’s battle with Lanfear deserves mention as well. It showed just how incredible of a woman Moiraine was and just how scary Lanfear could be.
The only negative to this book was the Valan Luca moments.
#3 – Lord of Chaos (Book 6)
Next on the list for the Wheel of Time books ranked is Lord of Chaos, book 6 in the series. There are so many highlights in this book that it’s hard knowing where to begin.
First, I loved Rand’s struggles in this book. This is what I consider Rand’s second-lowest point in the entire series, just behind him almost murdering his dad in book 12. When Rand is captured by the Red Ajah, mentally, he’s destroyed. Jordan masterfully writes about his struggle with his identity, the anguish that he feels, and everything he goes through. And then what it leads to is arguably one of the greatest battles in all of fantasy; Dumai’s Well.
During Dumai’s Well, two of my favorite quotes in the series are said and are probably lines I will never forget: “Asha’men kill” and “Kneel, or you will be knelt.”
This book solidified the series as one of my favorites of all time, yet still is not what I would consider the best.
#2 – The Shadow Rising (Book 4)
At number 2 on The Wheel of Time books ranked is The Shadow Rising, book 4 in the series. This book truly introduces us to one of the most incredible groups of people in fantasy; the Aiel.
The Aiel are such a unique group of people that, in some ways, remind me of the fantasy version of Freman from Dune. But in reality, there is so much more to them than just that. Their culture, way of thinking, and customs are so much different from what Robert Jordan had previously shown us compared to other groups of people in the books. Learning about them through Rand’s visions was one of the coolest non-battles in the series, which alone makes it worthy of the second spot on the list. However, there’s more.
Perrin going back to Emond’s Field after so long was something that I was so excited to see happen. The battle there is the third-best fight in the series and one of the most emotional moments in Perrin’s story.
Oh, and Mat gets his hat along with some memories.
#1 – A Memory of Light (Book 14)
Finally, at number 1 on the Wheel of Time books ranked is A Memory of Light, book 14 in the series. What an epic, heart-wrenching masterpiece of a book. Brandon Sanderson somehow not only managed to conclude this epic of a series perfectly, he somehow managed to write the best book of them all in the process.
The book’s highlights are basically the entire book, but I’ll try and mention the parts that make this one of the most remarkable pieces of fiction in all of fantasy.
Let’s begin with the behemoth of the chapter known as The Last Battle. Just for reference, that single chapter alone is longer than the entirety of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. It’s a monumental achievement in writing, and it not only fulfills the 13 book buildup the series gave it, but it also surpasses it. Every single character is given their time to shine in some way. Each POV during the battle is compelling. Honestly, you couldn’t have asked for anything better. This is hands down the best battle in the series and arguably one of the best battles in all of fantasy.
Now, let’s talk about the epic conclusion of Rand against the Dark One. Everything had led up to that moment, and it delivered. How things were going to end had been hinted at all throughout the series, yet when it finally happened and how it happened still managed to take me by surprise. It truly was a fitting end to the overall story.
Without question, A Memory of Light deserves the number one spot on the list.
The Wheel of Time is one of the greatest fantasy series of all time, filled with some of the most memorable moments, lovable characters, and compelling cultures. The series is an achievement in fantasy and literature as a whole. Amazon has big shoes to fill when adapting the series for TV, but if they don’t stray too far from the source material, the show is bound to be one of the best fantasy shows to air.
I hope you enjoyed my Wheel of Time books ranked. If you’d like to start the series for yourself, check out the best reading order to do so!
If you want to buy all the books at once (because every fantasy lover should have this series in their collection), you can find them all here!