Patterns of the Wheel: Coloring Art Based on Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time
by Robert Jordan & Amy Romanczuk
Patterns of the Wheel is a posthumous collaboration between late author Robert Jordan, of THE WHEEL OF TIME fame, and officially licensed Wheel of Time™ artist Amy Romanczuk, who has merged phrases or dialogue from many of Jordan’s novels with pysanky, a style of Ukrainian folk art most often seen on brightly-colored Easter eggs. While marketed as an adult coloring book, the black-and-white images and quoted selections from Jordan’s novels are certainly suitable for all ages, though the designs lack the level of finesse I would expect from an officially-sanctioned product associated with a beloved epic fantasy series on the level of THE WHEEL OF TIME, and the connections between Jordan’s prose and Romanczuk’s art is sometimes tenuous.
Patterns of the Wheel begins with a glowing Foreword from Harriet McDougal, Jordan’s widow and the editor of most of the WHEEL OF TIME series, followed by Ellissa Mitchell’s painstakingly detailed original map included in the novels, and then a glossary of pysanky symbols and their significance. The coloring book itself is structured so that the left-hand page features a brief quote from one of Jordan’s novels and the right-hand page contains Romanczuk’s design: sometimes a repeating mandala or boxed patterns, sometimes an item, and sometimes abstract intersecting lines. The majority of the quoted material comes from The Eye of the World and The Dragon Reborn, but most (though not all) of the other books in the series are featured at least once.
Each page is perforated near the center binding so that it can be torn out, but the identifying information is on the facing page rather than the back of the image, so I wouldn’t recommend removing too many images unless you’re sure that you can easily identify them without the quote. As with most other coloring books, the best media choices are colored pencils, gel pens, or crayons; markers will bleed through the paper, and watercolors will soak the paper far too much to be satisfying.
To my mind, the most successful images created by Romanczuk were the two poster-like pages, reading “Sleep, Drink Kaf, Conquer the World, Repeat” and “Courage to Strengthen, Fire to Blind, Music to Dazzle, Iron to Bind” in various fonts and surrounded by small, but striking, icons. They were well-made, balancing sizes and styles of letters in each line against the next, and I could easily picture them hanging on a fan’s corkboard or inside a school locker. If the whole book had been a series of mock-inspirational WHEEL OF TIME posters, Patterns of the Wheel would have been far more enjoyable.
The issue I had, and the subsequent low rating, is a result of the rough, nearly unfinished appearance of most of the artwork throughout Patterns of the Wheel. Objects which were clearly intended to repeat in a mandala were sometimes left unfinished; other designs are so crammed with lines that it’s difficult to determine what the overall picture is supposed to be or where colors should go; others still are nearly blank pages with a bare minimum of lines. There’s an inconsistency to the art from one page to the next, as well: sometimes it’s skillful and impressive, and sometimes it has the appearance of a half-finished sketch, with stray lines and incomplete shapes. It’s frustrating because I could see the potential in a presented concept, but I wanted to enjoy a finished product rather than the work-in-progress.
The idea behind Patterns of the Wheel — blending a beloved fantasy series with a stylized folk art — is a solid one, but an adult coloring book just wasn’t the right outlet for it. Romanczuk’s psyanky art is absolutely beautiful, and if she had put together a coffee table book with full-color photos of WHEEL OF TIME-inspired pysanky offset by quotes from the novels, I’d have written a far different review. As it stands, however, I wasn’t terribly impressed with this coloring book, and I won’t be recommending it.
Note: Images copyrighted by Amy Romanczuk
The Wheel of Time — (1990-2013) Publisher: The peaceful villagers of Emond’s Field pay little heed to rumors of war in the western lands until a savage attack by troll-like minions of the Dark One forces three young men to confront a destiny which has its origins in the time known as The Breaking of the World. This richly detailed fantasy presents a fully realized, complex adventure which will appeal to fans of classic quests.