The Wheel of Time is finished. That's a statement that's going to take a while to get used to. The first volume of the series, The Eye of the World, was published in January 1990. George Bush Snr. and Margaret Thatcher were still in power and the Cold War was still ongoing. Fourteen books, four million words, eleven thousand pages and over fifty million sales (in North America alone) later, the conclusion has finally arrived. Can it possibly live up to the expectations built up over that time?
It is a tribute to the plotting powers of Robert Jordan, the writing skill of Brandon Sanderson (who took over the series after Jordan's untimely death in 2007) and the hard work of Jordan's editors and assistants that A Memory of Light is - for the most part - a triumphant finale. Given the weight of expectations resting on the novel, not to mention the unfortunate circumstances under it was written, it is unsurprising that it is not perfect. The novel occasionally misfires, is sometimes abrupt in how it resolves long-running plot strands and sometimes feels inconsistent with what has come before. However, it also brings this juggernaut of an epic fantasy narrative to an ending that makes sense, is suitably massive in scope and resolves the series' thematic, plot and character arcs satisfactorily - for the most part.
It is a familiar viewpoint that The Wheel of Time is a slow-burning series, with Robert Jordan not afraid to have his characters sitting around talking about things for entire chapters (or, in one case, an entire novel) rather than getting on with business. However, Jordan at his best used these lengthy dialogue scenes to set up plot twists and explosive confrontations further down the line, pulling together the elements he'd established previously in surprising and interesting ways. This reached a high in the slow-moving sixth book, which ended with what is regarded by many as the series' best climax to date at the Battle of Dumai's Wells. Steven Erikson (whose Malazan series is the most notable recent mega-long fantasy series to have also reached a final conclusion) used the term 'convergence' for such structural climaxes and it's fair to say that this is what A Memory of Light is: a convergence for the entire series. All thirteen of the previous novels lined up plot cannons in preparation for the Last Battle, and in the closing chapters of Towers of Midnight Brandon Sanderson started triggering them.
The result is not The Wheel of Time you may be familiar with. A Memory of Light is a brutal, bruising, 900-page war novel that kicks off with all hell breaking loose and doesn't pause for breath until the ending. The prologue starts with a well-paced sequence as we find out the state of play for the major characters, intercut with Talmanes and the Band of the Red Hand engaging hordes of Shadowspawn on the streets of Caemlyn. The rotation of scenes between the desperate street fighting and more familiar politicking is highly effective and is exhausting in itself. Immediately after this we alternate between Rand's attempts to pull together a coalition against the Shadow whilst a small group of Asha'man try to save their organisation from destruction against overwhelming odds. No sooner is that over than the Last Battle is joined in full force. Vast armies clash, channellers engage one another in One Power exchanges that dwarf anything seen before in the series and lots of stuff blows up. There's more action sequences in A Memory of Light than the rest of the series put together, more than earning the adage 'The Last Battle'.
The action sequences (which make up almost the whole book) are, for the most part, impressive but benefit from unpredictability. Jordan has been criticised for making his characters too safe, with almost no major character of note (on either side) dying in the previous books of the series. This limitation has been removed for the Last Battle. Major characters, middling ones and scores of minor ones are scythed down in this final confrontation with near-wild abandon. Some get heroic, fitting, blaze-of-glory ends. Some die in manners so unexpected, offhand and callous that even George R.R. Martin might nod in approval. Many of the survivors are seriously wounded, either in body or mind. Jordan's experiences as a Vietnam vet informed Rand al'Thor's arc in The Gathering Storm, and resurface here when one major character is tortured by the Shadow before being rescued, but spends the rest of the book suffering the effects of his experiences. The war scenes are suitably epic and exciting, but Sanderson remembers to include moments counting the cost of such a struggle.
That said, there is an annoying discrepancy in the Last Battle sequence compared to earlier novels. Based on the army sizes in previous volumes and the number of channellers in each faction, the good guys should have brought the better part of a million troops and five thousand One Power-wielders to the Last Battle, and the Shadow several times more. There is no indication that such vast numbers are present, which seems rather odd. There is also the fact that the channellers suddenly seem to be much less effective in mass combat than previously shown. This is most blatant when Logain is angrily told that he and a couple of dozen Asha'man cannot hope to defeat a hundred thousand Trollocs by themselves. Given this is exactly what happened in one scene in Knife of Dreams, I can only conclude that the channellers were deliberately reduced in power for this book, which is very strange.
For the most part, this is the level of problems A Memory of Light presents: something mildly irritating to those who prefer consistency from fictional works but ultimately not hugely relevant to the overall thrust of the narrative. Similar issues can be found with a number of very minor subplots that the novel fails to resolve (or even address) from earlier volumes. In some cases these may be examples of what Robert Jordan himself said would happen in the last book, with some elements left deliberately hanging to give the illusion that life goes on after the last page is turned. In other cases, it may be that Jordan did not draft out how those storylines ended, so Sanderson chose to leave them rather than risk too inventing too much of his own material. Sanderson even refuses to name an important river that Jordan did not name himself, resulting is a slightly awkward battle sequence where characters talk about the 'river on the border', the 'river on the battlefield' and so on, which is a bit laboured.
However, whilst the war scenes rage there is also a philosophical struggle at the heart of the book, and of the series. This struggle is shown in the confrontation between Rand and the Dark One in which their visions of the world and the Wheel are shown in conflict with one another. Robert Jordan was convinced that whilst there were certainly complexities and shades of grey in real life, he also believed that real good and real evil existed, and these ideas form part of the philosophical struggle that takes place alongside the battles. How successful this is will vary (perhaps immensely) from reader to reader, but is not helped by some muddling of the issues. The primary struggle of the books has consistently been Good vs. Evil, but in this philosophy-off the idea of the Creator personifying Order and the Dark One Chaos also arises, possibly as their primary roles. This is in conflict with the rest of the series and is also more tiresomely familiar and predictable. Once that interpretation arises, it's impossible not to think of the ending of the Shadow War in the TV series Babylon 5, and the resolution we get is not a million miles away from it (Rand even gets a line almost as awful as "Get the hell out of our galaxy!").
On the prose side of things, it's pretty much the same set-up as The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight: acceptable, faster-paced and a bit less prone to unnecessary introspection. Where Sanderson comes undone (yet again) is his very occasional use of terminology and language that Jordan would never have used, particularly modern words and terms. Though relatively rare, they still jar a little bit when they appear. The book's centrepiece is a single chapter that is almost 200 pages (and 70,000 words) long in hardcover, with some 70 POV characters playing a role. Apparently both Sanderson and Jordan wrote parts of this chapter, and a few minor inconsistencies aside their writing styles mesh very well. The very last section of the epilogue, written by Robert Jordan himself before he passed (including, rather eerily, Jordan's epitaph from his own funeral), is indeed a fitting way to end the book.
Taking everything into account, A Memory of Light is a lot better than perhaps we had any right to expect. The book is a relentless steamroller of action, explosions, plot resolutions, deaths and philosophical (if somewhat confused) arguing. Some elements are under-resolved, or a little too convenient, or not fleshed out enough. But that's par for the course with any ending to a series this huge. The big questions are answered, the final scene is fitting and the story ends in a way that is true to itself, which is the most we can ask for.
on 10 January 2013
I feel emotionally battered and bruised after finishing A Memory of Light but also satisfied.
After the last 20 years I am used to the enjoyable slow burn of the Wheel of Time novels. The final novel in the series, 'A Memory of Light' is different. It is brutal, an assault on the senses, the action does not relent and you are left in no doubt the 'Last Battle' is here.
The book itself is epic. The battle scenes are intense and are wonderfully written. Characters finish their arcs sometimes in blazes of glory, other times in brutally unexpected ways, and the heroes journeys are ended.
A very minor gripe is that the ending left many subplots open for interpretation which is not normally a bad thing but somewhere deep down I feel that after a 20+ year investment I could have seen a slightly longer epilogue.
As a side note to the publisher I was also slightly frustrated I was unable to get this as an ebook/kindle on release.
A very worthy end to a wonderful series.
on 21 September 2013
Like many Robert Jordan fans, I was sceptical when Brandon Sanderson took over the helm of finishing off the remaining books of the Wheel of Time after Mr Jordan's untimely death. However, I needn't have worried and I am so grateful that he managed to so with such accomplishment.
There's not subtleties in this last book, just battles - death, bloodshed, more death etc. but what do you expect at the Last Battle? I particularly liked the fact that characters we had grown to love (or loathe) over the years finally had their part to play in the final denouement.
A criticism of Sanderson's approach was the fact that he spread the last "book" over three books rather than just the one volume. However, with such an abundance of material and so many resolutions needed to be made, I can now see why this was necessary. In fact, the only problem I have in this last book is that everything seemed a bit rushed towards the end. When you have spent over 20 years getting to know characters and then their fate is mentioned so briefly, this was a little bit disappointing. Also, I would have liked another chapter at the very end to round everything off - that is why I have only given it 4 stars.
Overall, though, no complaints from me. Thank you Mr Jordan for the best fantasy franchise since Tolkien, and hats off to you Mr Sanderson for a creditable "taking up of the helm" for the last leg of the journey.
on 13 February 2016
I've given all the other books 5 stars in this series - it is a truly epic fantasy saga. PLOT SPOILERS AHEAD
So a random sentence so that you can stop reading before I spoil some of the plot.
So a when a major character dies I felt massively disappointed. It isn't one of the ones everyone likes but when he/she dies you then realise how much you liked the character and how much you'd invested in that character over 14 massive books. It is completely unexpected and almost unnecessary - as if Brian Sanderson felt he had to kill one of the main characters and chose the one he thought would be missed least! There are few plot lines not tied up: like who Olver was when he was spun out of the pattern (it should be obvious him being so ugly and all but I'd have liked it confirmed and explained why he could blow the horn of Valere when he might have been one of the heroes summoned previously), also Logain's glory could have been worked in instead of being postponed. I'd also have liked to have seen the Seachan start the process of change towards the damme.
Towards the end of the saga you realise how much your time and emotional investment depends upon this one final book. It was never going to be perfect - everybody can't all survive the final battle so this made a good ending.
on 13 January 2013
Lord knows the Wheel of Time series has flaws. All fans know that. Plot missteps, idiosyncratic touches which did not always work. Characterization that did not work for everyone.
Nevertheless, no series - none - has earned its ending volume quite like The Wheel of Time. Epic is a word that is overused, but for this series, it genuinely has to apply. No series earns its sacrfices, its twists, its darker moments, with quite the weight of this series. The scale, the depth, the engagement with characters taking dark, sometimes unpalatable paths, and, yes, the length, all contribute to this. None of its flaws overcome how much impact the journey of the series has had on me, and has truly tested the standard forms of the genre while making them feel real and emotionally satisfying; the role of any good reconstructionist.
Rand al Thor was the Chosen One, and no Chosen One ever suffered so much, transformed so much - even into places which were not pleasant - and actually earned the Chosen One label like he did. His journey was real, tragic and draining, and yet his position as prophesized chosen did not feel cheap, as it so often does, as he plainly was the chosen figure of the world for demonstrable reason, a force on the Pattern as much as the evil they all faced. And with a case of engaging, flawed, heroic, complex and yes, even frustrating, core characters, the series built a world of enviable complexity and idiotic humanity, that drew us in even when it dragged or annoyed. Even the seemingly two dimensional had true depth to them. People changed, grew, devolved and above all lived.
No world ever suffered like the world of the Wheel of Time, or at least not for so long in our memories building for book after book. We saw it approaching the end for so long, and believed it, building an apocalypse that matches the dread of the bleak brutality of Westeros despite the vastly different styles of writing. Whole nations seemed to have their own stories we only glimpsed, and yet did not feel tacked on but part of the overall chaos these characters experienced. The atrocities and heroics did not take place in some flimsy construct, but in a land which gave it all weight.
As a finale, A Memory of Light could be hard to follow sometimes, flitting about at light speed between seemingly hundreds of locations and characters coming together in, appropriately, one giant tapestry of epic conclusion. It was only ever going to be thus. As the final planned third of the final book, the glut of action was inevitable, and the confusing mass of characters, motivations and backstories is par for the course for Wheel of Time fans. There are moments of humour (mostly from Mat ;)), glorious heroics, heartbreaking sacrifices and moments of incredible tension as the costs of actions took on all involved.
It was well structured despite the action heavy focus, juggling the incredible weaving of plots with skill, and had moments of emotional power throughout, and I read it all in one day.
Was it perfect? No. I mostly adored the ending conflict and scenes, but without spoiling felt the emotion was undercut by some decisions. It did feel very rushed, as though some other plots should have been resolved or at least addressed in the previous two volumes, leading to some exchanges that just seemed too brief for the occasion, and for my own personal preferences, there was still too much focus on some characters I'm not particularly fond of, but that's on me. I do like being able to imagine the stories of characters beyond an ending, even if I don't necessarily care to see any (which is one problem I had with Mass Effect 3's ending - wondering what the point of all the emotion and energy put into the world and characters had been for if I couldn't picture how things might play out, for good or ill), and appreciated that the world of the books feels real to me, even after this epic story has concluded. There will be triumphs and disasters for these people and world, even if we do not get to see them.
I would thoroughly recommend this series despite all its flaws and length, for though its style might not be for all to enjoy, its development of character in sometimes unexpected directions, it's grand plot that attempts a truly world shattering, high stakes end of world scenario, without copping out on the scale, even if it does require splitting of focus in many places and among many people to keep a character focus to emotionally invest us. And A Memory of Light delivered on much of what was promised. It was a good Wheel of Time book, a mostly fitting conclusion which did not hold back and was not afraid to take risks with characters or plots. Not all of those I liked, even including with the ending, but any negatives won't stay with me in the face of all the good. I read the whole thing in less than 6 hours I was that gripped with its tale.
Well written, emotional, exciting, epic. Fans should be pleased with the finale we got (minor quibbles aside), and what a journey it has been to experience along with all its players. Nostalgia for the whole series makes me want to give it a five star, but four is still great, make no mistake. I look forward to many more rereads of the whole series, and recommend all do the same, with this book in many ways a glorious celebration of the series.
on 26 November 2013
After struggling to find the time to read the final book in this epic fantasy series, when I finally did get round to finishing it, I was not disappointed. I class this as my favourite fantasy series, so the stakes were always going to be high and, as such, people like me are more critical of something they love.
As other reviewers have said, there were blips along the way in the telling of this final installment, but the overriding emotions - the true judges of a novel - having turned the last page are those of satisfaction and and longing for the characters we have now left forever.
Because over the course of fourteen books we have come to know even the tertiary characters in remarkable depth; world- and character-building on this scale is a rare and impressive thing. And A Memory of Light, on the whole, does not abandon its characters, with nice nods to many lesser players with their own PoVs. That said, whereas major players such as Lan and Egwene see plenty of airtime, Nynaeve and Moiraine really miss out. There will naturally be an imbalance in trying to tie up so large a cast and story, but I felt these two in particular needed - and deserved - more. Another disappointing point in regards to characters was the lack of interaction between the main cast; many of us were really looking forward to our original travellers from Emond's Field reuniting for the first time since Tear, but they, and smaller reunions, never materialised. One could argue that this is only natural amidst the planning of what is effectively a World War. Nevertheless, it was something I missed.
I also felt that some characters were misused or that their personal finales, given their importance, were too fleeting. Again, the time and the page count may not have necessarily allowed everyone their deserved, climactic final scene. But when they are built up over a number of books, one expects a certain type of pay-off.
Yet, there were pay-offs, and many of them, sometimes in epic proportions. Rand's battle with the Dark One in a metaphysical realm was well done, if thinly spread out over the book by necessity. We saw less zen-Rand here, which is good or bad depending upon the reader. That battle felt like it came to its logical conclusion, whilst including a nice couple of twists along the way, and certainly satisfied this reader.
Lan, Egwene, Perrin and Mat, in varying degrees, got what they deserved. And many of the prophecies and teases we have been wondering about for so long were resolved in style, with only a few dangling threads - a reflection of real life - left to ponder over. The use of the Power also played out to its logical conclusion and some things you may have hypothesises about bear fruit.
There has been criticism that the key players in the series have been impervious to harm in the lead-up to the Last Battle. Jordan showed that this is no longer the case, yet I still felt the major casualties were the tertiary characters, with only a few secondary and primary characters being dealt with brutally.
The Last Battle itself is dealt with well. It was a huge task, spanning almost the entire book, with one chapter - fittingly entitled The Last Battle - running to over 200 pages in length. With the sheer number of armies and leaders involved, this was a daunting job, but one that Sanderson, in most part, handled well. There seemed to be a lessening in the numbers of Randland troops (including Aiel) and occasional confusions in numbers and deployment, as well as a lessening in effectiveness of allied channellers. Perhaps this was to stack the odds against our heroes, which certainly worked. Tactics and formations also seemed to be a bit repetitive, but this is understandable given our authors are not medieval warfare strategists. Yet the tension is maintained throughout and Mat's involvement is thoroughly satisfying as he juggles and gambles his way through it.
Elements of the ending felt rushed as the authors tried to tie up loose threads, but nothing was missed that was meant to be included. The epilogue was also satisfying, although a little confusing at times - probably worth a re-read of the final chapters - but ultimately I can have no real gripes given the epic undertaking Sanderson was faced with. The issues raised above are mostly minor and do not take the shine of a magnificently managed and ambitious book, one that - mostly - gave the characters what they deserved. But, in the end, the story got what it deserved, and if you are wondering whether you should bother completing a series that dragged over books 7-10, the answer is a resounding yes. Because duty is lighter than a feather.
on 29 September 2013
Overall, I really enjoyed AMOL, and this enjoyment was probably increased by my surprise at the feeling itself. I first picked the housebrick of a book up almost in two minds whether to read it or just let it wait. I just wasn't sure I was going to enjoy it and was approaching it a bit like a chore that I didn't really want to do, but knew needed doing. It didn't take too long before I was rewarded however, as I was sucked in not just by the desire to see this through, after some 11,000 pages of reading in the series, but also by the gripping writing style employed by Sanderson.
The scale of the book is immense, and as number 14 in the series, it has to be in order to bring everything together to a fitting close. I feel that there are just too many characters to keep a good track of, but for a series covering 14 novels, that's always going to be difficult - I think it's a case of introducing new characters as necessary but having so few as a percentage killed off. In a fantasy of this scope, I'd normally expect to see a fair number of these characters bite the dust before we get to book 14 - heck, if GRR Martin was writing it, we'd probably be left with just half a dozen named characters left and the last battle fought by heroic unknowns.
Speaking of which, I joked to a friend that I'd just started the last battle and I was only halfway through the book, so either it's a really long battle, or we have an ending like the cinematic version of the Return of the King - where we get half out of our seats to go home and then realise it's coming back to the screen with another 10 minutes of footage. And then another 10 minutes. As it happens, it was a really long battle. The actual battle itself is almost entirely encompassed in one single chapter, but that chapter is 190 pages long. It's a beast. To satisfy my curiosity, I just counted and between us, my wife and I have about half a dozen books that are barely longer than this one chapter in terms of number of pages. Counting up an average looking page within the chapter and extrapolating a figure from there gives a rough estimate of somewhere in the region of 70,000 words. For a single chapter.
Anyway, putting aside my amazement at the size of the chapter, I can see why it was done, and this bit for me is one of the best things about AMOL as a climax to the whole Wheel of Time series. There are 13 books leading up to this one, there's a cast of around a hundred named characters who are going to be involved in the last battle (I just pulled that number out of the air, but I really don't think I'm exaggerating much, if at all). To do it any justice, the last battle really has to be epic, and my word it delivers.
Sometimes, thinking back on it, it almost seems like the entire book is dedicated to the last battle and nothing much else happens. There's plenty I can remember happening before we get to the battle itself, but somehow those bits all seem to be just prologues to Tarmon Gai'don anyway, and in a sense that's exactly what they are. Over the last couple of books it's been gradually happening, and leading up to the last battle in AMOL we see the final threads all being caught and pulled together.
In the battle itself, as well as seeing a sequence of events befitting the build up we've been given, there's also some neat little extras. I think my favourite of these is probably the use of newly learnt magics, and mostly in the way gateways are used as more than just Travelling aids. I think this brings a big touch of realism to the battle, as you have commanders seeking every advantage they can get and people trying out new things, letting their imaginations loose with the powers they have at their disposal.
It takes something special to keep a battle going for 190 pages, even one fought over several fronts before they all pull together, but I think I've read enough of his work to realise that Sanderson is indeed something special. The last battle is a real life or death fight, one last roll of the dice for both sides, with everything thrown at it - the name kind of gives it away really. To have the last battle over in a few smaller chapters just wouldn't have worked. It really needed to be on a scale rarely, if ever, imagined in fantasy writing. Now, obviously I've not read every novel, or every series out there, but for me at least, this was epic writing on a scale never seen before.
I think if anything, the one part that I least liked about AMOL is the epilogue. I'd read that this was written by Jordan and added to the end of the book exactly as he'd intended it, and I like how everyone in the process stayed true to that as, after all, it's his story. For me, there was a noticeable change in the writing style when I turned that last page on Sanderson's writing and moved on to Jordan's. I also feel that the epilogue needed to be a bit longer, maybe a bit more fleshed out. To me, it almost seemed like it barely touched on a couple of major characters, and it's not until I went back to check that I realised there's actually a couple of pages split over two or three sections, but these characters still don't get the sort of send off I'd have thought they'd earned.
on 2 September 2013
This is the fourteenth and final book in The Wheel of Time series of fantasy novels and it didn't disappoint in any way. I'm not going to include any spoilers -- that wouldn't be fair on anyone who's read the previous thirteen books and, like me, has been enmeshed in the story and Robert Jordan's world since day 1. However, I will say it is a wonderfully satisfying book that brings all the outstanding story lines to a conclusion; even some of the stories that seemed to finish in book thirteen or earlier have a final episode here. There were some really shocking moments when I found myself gasping out loud and points where tears threatened, but strangely, I found myself smiling quite a lot of the time as well.
I also found myself `watching' many of the scenes in my head, as they are very visual. There has been talk over the years of adaptation either as a TV miniseries or as film(s). Given that the series runs to more than 4 million words on nearly 12,000 pages and includes literally hundreds of named, and described, characters, I don't see how any adaptation would work without losing huge amounts of detail.
Jordan's world draws on many myths and legends. Inevitably, there are some points that will seem derivative, especially to anyone who grew up with Alan Garner and JRR Tolkien. For example, I was never able to read about Loial the Ogier without visualising Tolkien's Treebeard and the Ents destroying Isengard. But there are some wonderfully inventive aspects to Jordan's world. I especially loved the Aelfinn and Eelfinn with their tricksy, manipulative ways and the dice rolling in Mat's head.
In my opinion, Brandon Sanderson writes with a slightly more fluent tone than Robert Jordan did (and I read this final volume in less than two weeks, whereas some of the earlier ones have taken me months to get through). Working with Jordan's vision, characters and storylines, Sanderson has woven a great final episode to a highly complex fantasy series.
A final comment to new readers of Robert Jordan: In some series of books, each volume can be read as a stand-alone. I don't believe that is possible here. Go back to book 1 and start from there. It will take a long time, but it will be worth it when you read the closing words of book fourteen: There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the running of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending.
on 18 May 2013
I am lucky in that I came to the Wheel of Time series towards the end. I was looking for a new series, and was nearly put off by some of the negative reviews of some of the books in the middle of the series. Then I heard that Brandon Sanderson was doing the final books in the series, and I have read and really enjoyed his books, so that made me decided to give the series a go.
I read the first books and thoroughly enjoyed them. I thought when I came to the dodgy part in the middle I would try and find a summary online and skip to the better books. However, of course, I couldn't do that - every time I got to the end of a book, I couldn't wait to start the next one. Lucky me, no huge wait of years between books - just one click and the next one was ready to go!
I have to agree that those books in the middle were not up to some of the others, but they still had their good parts. And like others I got irritated by the man-hating (and I am a woman), the braid tugging and tutting, etc, etc. But the overall stories were great.
By this final book I was really hooked. I loved most of the characters, and will really miss them now it is over. I particularly loved Matt. I was sad at some of the deaths - but let's face it some had to die in the final battle, and I found the ending very satisfying. I would love to know what happens next, but that won't happen I guess.
Overall I loved the series, and loved this final book. But what now? I need a new series.....
on 25 April 2013
I have been reading the Wheel of time series for about 6 months now, getting through roughly a book every fortnight, and having just finished A Memory of Light I am bereft. I have been glued to the books and am already missing the incredible universe created by Robert Jordan.
Brandon Sanderson has done an excellent job picking up where Robert Jordan sadly left off. There is clearly strong continuity in terms of the characters' personality, though Sanderson spends a little less time on the step by step minutiae of each characters' actions and more on moving the plot forward. He has also injected a little more humour into the characters.
Over the first 10-11 books Jordan developed multiple plot lines and character threads, and was prepared to devote large proportions of the narrative to each character. In this final volume the challenge for Sanderson is to bring all these threads together, which in my opinion he does successfully. The difficulty is to give every plotline and character the weight it had in previous books, and that simply isn't possible. As a consequence some familiar characters who had central roles in earlier books become sidenotes in A Memory of Light. Balancing this is the terrific pace that is set as the final battle develops and is played out.
In a way this review is irrelevant. No one will start with the 14th book in a series; if you have started the series and like earlier books then you are hardly going to miss out on the final one! The good news for anyone still reading through the Wheel of Time is that the denouement is worth waiting for, that Sanderson was an excellent choice to carry Jordan's vision forward, and that it is a cracking read.