When I was first starting writing in the genre instead of what the creative writing professors told me I should be writing, an important rite of passage was either embracing or rejecting the Wheel of Time. Everyone had to deal with these books. Everyone had to position themselves in relation to these books.
This led to lots of undeserved criticism from many fronts.
Lots of young aspiring authors went to town bashing the books (for a brief time, I was one of them).
For me, this light came on somewhere along the way and it occurred to me that I wasn’t bashing the books. I was actually rejecting this tradition of fantasy, of whom Robert Jordan was the most prominent modern author.
In fact, the books are pretty goddamn fantastic. The Great Hunt has a spectacular ending. The maddening level of anthropological knowledge of Robert Jordan was apparent in every iota of detail in the books. The man earned his fans the old fashioned way, and kept them coming back for more over and over again.
I don’t know what will happen with the ending of the final book of the series, now. I know his widow ought to get all the time she needs to grieve before she has to deal with the horde of ravenous fans chomping at the bit to get this next, unfinished book.
And, in the meantime, there’s plenty of time for the rest of you to check the books out for yourself, and understand why legions of fantasy fans just clamped up and will be depressed for weeks, at least.