Please indulge me for a moment before this review begins….Woohoo! I did it! I finished “The Wheel of Time” series! I slogged through 14 books, endless sub-plots, 500 page books that advanced the plot by four days, Nynaeve’s hair pulling, Egwene’s whining and a growing belief that Robert Jordan got paid by the word. It is over.
Whew. I waited 15 years to write that paragraph and it was as satisfying as I had hoped. Now that I am purged of all my WOT demons, I will move on to my (mostly) spoiler-free review of “A Memory of Light.”
Brandon Sanderson is a good writer. He is probably a better writer from a technical standpoint that Robert Jordan. Jordan built a deep, carefully developed world, but his writing often felt…inefficient. Sanderson writes clean, concise paragraphs that actually advance the story. This pleased me immensely. The only problem with the book is that the story sprawled across so many locations and characters that the book is 900 pages long. Yes, you read the correctly. 900 pages. There is no encyclopedia in the back either. That is 100% story text and Sanderson needed every page to clean up all the dangling story lines. I will state that he resolves every major and minor story line in the series. At least I could not think of any plot point that was overlooked. Some key dangling plots cleared up include:
- Min’s viewings that have not been resolved in earlier books
- Logain actually doing something. As an aside, Logain had real potential in the series as a great character but was criminally underutilized in my opinion.
- Bela the Horse (admit it, you wanted to know what happened to him)
- Prophecies of the Dragon
- Miscellaneous relationship issues between major and minor characters
- The Horn of Valere
- The Final Battle (of course)
- Rand Shakes Hands with the Dark One at Shayol Ghul. The meeting is not cordial.
If you made it far enough through the series to care about the final book then the fact that 60% of the book is the final battle is no surprise. Seriously, 600+ pages directly relate to the actual battle. Not getting ready. Not talking about it. I mean actually fighting. Across the entire continent, with all the heavy hitters bring their big guns and Forsaken sneakiness to the battle. This is full on “Age of Legends” level carnage.
To Brandon Sanderson’s credit, the battle sequences felt reasonably well thought out, especially how the various armies started leveraging the channelers in battle. Long have I complained that the generals overlooked some really obvious uses for “easy” spells that many of the casters could cast repeatedly. It almost felt like Robert Jordan wrote himself into a corner and could not mention these tactics without breaking the story.
It is a great book, but that is not to say I did not have some issues with it. Without spoiling it, there is another player in the game that shows up that is literally mentioned in the 13 previous books as a couple of throw-away paragraphs. Yes, it was a surprise, but it seemed forced and unnecessary. Speaking of unnecessary, why does the author feel the need to name everyone’s horse?
I may gripe a bit on some things, but the only real howler in the book requires some explanation and is very mildly spoilerish. I rate the characters as either A, B, or C level characters. Rand, Mat and Perrin are the A team, Nynaeve, Lan, Egwene and the rest of the “inner circle” are the B team and the various named NPCs and hanger-ons are the C team. At one point a Forsaken is tearing up the battlefield and a member of the C team leaps into action to kill the Forsaken. A Forsaken, not some random Trolloc or Dark Friend, but an immortal spell caster with knowledge from the Age of Legends and a direct conduit to the Dark One. Imagine Wedge from Star Wars trying to kill Darth Vader in hand-to-hand combat. I actually laughed when I read it.
The Wheel of Time series is done, so I will now suggest people read it. With the caveat that it is immensely long, complicated and bogs down between books 6-11. Still, I thought it was worth it in the end and I am satisfied with the exciting climax.
That said, I am very glad Brandon Sanderson did such an amazing job finishing the series. It will be good practice for completing “A Game of Thrones.”
Trask, The Last Tyromancer