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Wheel of the Infinite

4.01  ·  Rating Details  ·  901 Ratings  ·  79 Reviews
Every year, the Wheel of the Infinite must be painstakingly remade to ensure peace and harmony. And every hundred years, the Wheel and the world become one. But now a black storm ravages the beautiful mandala, and a woman with a shadowy past -- an exile, murderer, and traitor -- has been summoned back to put the world right. For if Maskelle and the swordsman Rian cannot st ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 4th 2001 by Eos (first published 2000)
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May 15, 2016 Carol. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Paladin of Souls, The Blue Sword

A woeful number of fantasy readers are unfamiliar with Martha Wells. My proof, you ask? The very fact that rights have reverted back to Wells and she has decided to re-release her books in e-book form. Wide-ranging in world-building and focus, she hasn’t been content to settle down in one fantasy universe and write an endless series (cough, cough, Robert Jordan). I happen to love her fine balance between plotting and world-building, and the way she winds them together with reasonably sophisticat
Melissa McShane
Jul 23, 2015 Melissa McShane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, fantasy, favorites
7/16/15: Still my favorite, for all the reasons listed below. Like many books that are my favorites, I have trouble breaking down what's great about it. The world is fantastic, very non-European fantasy and full of great depth and internal consistency. I love Maskelle and Rian for being imperfect people who are drawn together for physical reasons and stay together because they complement each other so well. (view spoiler) ...more
Apr 17, 2012 TheBookSmugglers rated it really liked it
I’ve recently read (and loved) Martha Wells’ most recent books, The Cloud Roads (one of my top 10 of 2011) and The Serpent Sea. Ever since then I’ve been meaning to read some of her backlist titles. I decided to go with Wheel of the Infinite because it was recently re-released with a new cover. And I am so glad I did because OH MY WORD, this book was a thing of beauty.

Every year, the Voices of the Ancestors gather to renew the Wheel of the Infinite, a sand mandala that represents the world and s
Text Addict
Sep 22, 2013 Text Addict rated it really liked it
4.5 stars, really. First off, I love Wells' writing. She knows how to use words to elevate setting and character to something three-dimensional, and (my favorite technique) to occasionally drop in something humorous that's also illuminating. For example, on p. 12: "There were gasps and outcries, proving that some of the raiders at least were among the devout. One quick thinker turned and dived out the nearest window."

An amazing bit of work. With that one pair of sentences, Wells had me wonderin
Laura (Kyahgirl)
There are a few things I really liked about this book; the female lead character was not young and hot but older and seasoned by life. The male lead was younger than her but smart enough to recognize a truly awesome woman to work with and pursue romantically. The good and bad characters were realistic even though this book is a fantasy. The mystery was really good. Practically perfect.
E.D. Walker
Jan 04, 2013 E.D. Walker rated it really liked it
Martha Wells is swiftly becoming one of my new favorite people. Martha Wells reminds me very much of Lois McMaster Bujold (one of my other favorite writer-people). Wells does the same sort of incredible world-building as Bujold: logical, intricate, fascinating, original. But still easy to understand. And really cool. Wells also has that dry banter down pat that I love so well. To wit:

"The Infinite touches everyone," she said...

"Tell it to keep its hands to itself," Rian suggested...

Wheel of the
Jan 22, 2013 Joy rated it really liked it
I've enjoyed Wells books since I discovered The Death of the Necromancer. She writes without the faux medieval/formal dialogue that cripples so much fantasy, with the humorous banter of good relationships.

This stand alone story involves a priestess in disgraced, banished from the capital for seven years. On her journey home; where she faces an alien magic out to destroy her world, she rescues a young swordsman who is running from his onerous Lord and they become lovers and compatriots.

The magic
May 03, 2007 Wealhtheow rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
Shelves: fantasy
An exiled nun (of a religion very like Buddhism) travels with her mysterious sword-wielding bodyguard to discover how and why the Wheel of the Infinite (a model of the world done in sand that recreates the world every year) is being destroyed. Along the way she must battle a demon-puppet, court intrigues, the Celestial Throne itself, and her past mistakes. Wells sidesteps clichéd plots and melodramatic moments neatly.
Jun 30, 2015 Férial rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Only one word : excellent !
Dec 13, 2015 Metaphorosis rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, 2015-rev
3.5 stars - Metaphorosis Reviews

Maskelle was once the Voice of the Adversary - the only Ancestor that never took human form. Now, she's returning from exile at the command of the Celestial One to help remake the Wheel of the Infinite - and deal with a problem that risks the existence of the entire world.

I give Martha Wells credit for developing a very different world here. This is not your standard medieval fantasy, nor quite your less-standard Eastern one. It's a mix of existing elements, but i
Darkness looms and terrible forces threaten to rise from the storm. The sorceress Maskelle has been summoned back from exile to aid in the annual process of remaking the Wheel of the Infinite in order to maintain peace and harmony. Maskelle travels unobtrusively with a group of play actors, but as the Voice of the Adversary she is not unknown. In fact, in spite of her dark past, she is revered as much as she is feared and her word as much as her power commands respect. Yet Wells makes it clear t ...more
Jasmine Giacomo
Nov 27, 2010 Jasmine Giacomo rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Antonio Williams
Aug 18, 2010 Antonio Williams rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: fantasy readers tired of the same old stuff
Incredible world building from Martha Wells. I really appreciated her use of an Asian-style setting over the usual European. While not all her characters are not as well written as her setting, they still are interesting. Maskelle (the heroine) is a really strong character though. She's a middle-aged woman full of courage and yet insecurities. She has passion and yet can be straight-forward when needed. If a movie was ever made of this book (total dream I know...but hey) Angela Bassett should be ...more
Nov 04, 2015 Tish rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars Very good book! Wonderful characters and world-building and so imaginative. The descriptions put me right there and I kept thinking how much I would love to see this made into a movie. I will definitely be reading more by Martha Wells.

P.S. It's not part of a trilogy--a refreshing change!
3.5 stars!

I suppose the only real "problem" I had with Wheel of the Infinite were the ages of Maskelle and Rian. I couldn't really relate since I'm not even half Maskelle's age. I also thought it different that Maskelle was fifteen years older than Rian. That's not something you see everyday.
Jul 10, 2015 Sheila rated it it was amazing
My entire review is really just KEYSMASH KEYSMASH ARGLEBARGLE LOVE WOULD READ TEN MILLION MORE WORDS. Because, like, older physically confident kind of murderous kickass women REPRESENT. Worldbuilding x 1000. Love interest thumbs up. Magical system I could get lost in. AC-TORS. Demons.

Jan 06, 2009 Carolyn rated it it was amazing
This may actually be my favorite Wells, likely because the dynamic between Maskelle and her bodyguard/lover was so wonderfully irreverent. Lots of strange in here, lots of potential horror, lots of snap and pop dialogue. Loved every bit of it.
Sep 23, 2010 Estara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of competent women who enjoy life and lovers of fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jean Tatro
Jan 15, 2012 Jean Tatro rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebooks
A fantasy set in a lush and intricate world that seems to be based on the cultures of the East, Tibet and Buddhism in particular, though we are given many glimpses of the world beyond. It's a rich and well-realized world that is both unique and firmly under the traditional Fantasy banner.

I really liked the prominent use of sand mandalas as the titular 'Wheel of the Infinite', and how they fit into the world and magic system. I mention it because because things like that are selling points for me
Really richly imagined world, plus a female lead who is well-travelled, with a long history and lot of power behind her.
Mar 23, 2013 Ms_prue rated it it was amazing
Easily the best $3 I've ever spent on fantasy fiction. The list of highly entertaining and subversive things going on in this story is impressive - it's lightyears away from your bog standard pseudo-medieval pseduo-European man-and-sword-and-sorcery bollocks. Although it does still have a man with a sword in it. He's the support act to the non-white, middle aged renegade priestess and her associated theatre troupe. The worldbuilding in this book is brilliant, vivid and concise and beautifully im ...more
Emotonal Reads
The book was good and I enjoyed it mostly. It had elements of religion and magic. even a little horror.

What I don't understand is the relations between the two leads. she saved him, he began following her and became her personal guard, a day later they were having sex, I have no idea why, there was nothing that said they were attracted to or desired each other, they just started sleeping together.
The only thing the heroine said about was that she hadn't been with a man in a long time.
I guess per
Jul 22, 2014 Marissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maskelle, een vrouw van middelbare leeftijd, is gezegd door de Voorouders en daarna vervloekt en verbannen. Ze reist met een buitenlands theatergezelschap naar de hoofdstad om een geheimzinnige oproep van de Hemelse te beantwoorden als ze een Sitanese zwaardvechter tegen het lijf loopt. Niet uit het veld geslagen door Maskelle's grauwe gevoel voor humor staat hij haar bij tijdens avonturen met bezeten marionetten, waterdemonen, windgeesten en nog erger; hofintriges. En ondertussen roert de Tegen ...more
Kathryn Young
Mar 28, 2014 Kathryn Young rated it it was amazing
One of the more enjoyable stand-alone fantasies I've read, with a great magic system, world building, and ending I didn't see coming that makes perfect sense. Add in an evil, demon-possessed marionette that knock-knocks on the truck he's been trapped in, well, cool.

Plus, without making a big or any kind of deal about it, our war-weary returned wizard exile is female (and a woman of color), and the person she rescues from a fate worse than death is male (and blond). But, as the author points out
Maureen E
Jun 21, 2012 Maureen E rated it it was amazing
I really wish I had the time to write this one up fully, but it’s awesome! The worldbuilding is incredible (oh, wait, I just said that…). It’s also a mystery with a great main character. In short, it’s one of those books that made me wish I could write this well. Bonus: beautiful cover. Dobble bonus: multicultural sff, where everyone is treated respectfully and comes across as real people!
Kristi Thompson
Jan 17, 2014 Kristi Thompson rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I liked it. Readable. Confusing plot, or at least piecing together the backstory to make sense of the present plot was confusing. But the spiritualiity was handled plausibly - at least, the characters attitudes to religion seemed plausible. And the middle aged, repeatedly married, falliable female heroine was very nice.
Sylvia Kelso
Oct 07, 2012 Sylvia Kelso rated it it was amazing
My favourite Wells book. Not *quite* as splendidly insouciant characters as in *Death of the Necromancer*, but Rian is excellent and so is the protagonist/hero, Maskelle. Hard to top her first unveiling of her power in the riverside inn. Also liked the main city, based on Angkor Wat. And a v. satisfactory end.
Apr 10, 2016 Mark rated it really liked it
The biggest surprise to me about this story: the author takes a character who has unapologetically killed two husbands and relinquished a child and makes her sympathetic. Oh, and she's the voice of a possibly insane god.

The world-building and non-western view of "religion" (drawing on Bhuddism and mandala's, I think) set this book apart and helps draw you in. The mystery to be solved and the constant questioning about the reliability of the narrator keep up the tension and the interest. About 1/
Dec 28, 2013 Li rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, read-in-2013
I’m slowly making way through Martha Well’s self-pubbed e-backlist. I liked the touches of humour in this one, and the characters felt real.
Jan 06, 2016 SELF-e added it
Shelves: select-titles
This book was chosen as a SELF-e Select title and features in the Fantasy Anthology in the SELF-e Select Module on Biblioboard, a nationwide product available in participating local libraries all over the country.

Interested in getting your book into SELF-e? It's a free discovery service curated by Library Journal and powered by BiblioBoard and it couldn't be easier to use. Talk to your local librarian to see if your library has SELF-e already, or visit t
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Endicott Mythic F...: Wheel of the Infinite - Discussion 3 16 Mar 15, 2010 08:43AM  
  • The Touchstone Trilogy
  • God Stalk (Kencyrath, #1)
  • To Ride Hell’s Chasm
  • Rituals (Rhapsody of Blood, #1)
  • Point of Hopes (Astreiant, #1)
  • Penric's Demon (World of the Five Gods, #1.5)
  • Song of the Beast
  • Shattered Pillars (Eternal Sky, #2)
  • Power and Majesty (Creature Court, #1)
  • J-Pop Love Song
  • Firebrand
  • Bride of the Rat God
  • The Steerswoman (The Steerswoman, #1)
  • Carousel Tides (Archers Beach, #1)
  • The Desert of Souls (The Chronicles of Sword and Sand #1)
Martha Wells is the author of over a dozen SF/F novels, including Wheel of the Infinite, City of Bones, The Element of Fire, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. She has a fantasy trilogy: The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods, currently out in paperback, ebook, and audiobook.

Her most recent fantasy novels are The Books of the Raksura series: The Cloud Roads
More about Martha Wells...

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