If you’ve heard much about the Wheel of Time series, then you probably know that the final book in the series has been in the works for some time by Brandon Sanderson, the author chosen to continue Robert Jordan’s work after he died.

The final book, which is supposed to be released sometime this Fall, possibly in November, is titled A Memory of Light. There have been some rumors flying around the internet of late pertaining to how many volumes the book will be released in.

It was previously assumed that the book would be one volume, released all at once. But rumors speculate that it might be put out in three volumes instead, with the first part, titled “The Gathering Storm,” being released November 2009. The Wheel of Time series has consisted thus far of eleven books ranging from 800-1,000 pages apiece. (Plus a shorter prequel.) A Memory of Light, due to the quantity of material and loose ends to tie-up, has become three books the size of the first eleven.

Mr. Sanderson commented on his LiveJournal blog in late March:

I can’t say much.  Why?  Well, it’s not my right.  I’m loving being part of the Wheel of Time, but it is Harriet’s world, not mine.  And so I feel it right to let her make any announcements at her pace. […]

A lot of people are wondering on the number of volumes this book will be.  I’ll be honest, this is a big, big project.  I stand by one promise to you, no matter what else happens.  I will NOT artificially inflate the size of this book.  It doesn’t matter to me how many volumes Tor decides to make it; the story is the same to me.  One volume, as Robert Jordan planned it.  Enormous.

If it is split into chunks, I will push Tor to release them as soon as is reasonably possible and I will push hard for an omnibus edition at the end.

Then a few days later, more was revealed. The rumors were confirmed by a Tor Books press release, and Sanderson wrote a lengthy exposé on his website.

So…how big will the gap be? Well, the honest truth is that I don’t know. Tom has been telling other publishers and retailers that November 2009, 2010, 2011 seems like a safe bet. But that’s just an estimate, erring on the side of caution.

I think that brings you all up to speed. The question many of you are probably wondering now is “What did you decide to put in this book, and what did you decide to hold off until the next one?” I can’t answer that yet–perhaps when the time gets closer, I’ll be able to hint at what was included and what was saved. But know that I believe strongly in the place where the cut was made, and I love how the final product has turned out.

Edit: There have been a few changes. The first book, The Gathering Storm is now set to be released on October 27, 2009. Release dates for the last two installments are still unofficial, but the titles announced are now Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light.