173 of 186 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumphant finale to the series, despite a few missteps
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...
Published 18 months ago by A. Whitehead
1.0 out of 5 stars Where Was The Sanderson Who Wrote The Stormlight Archives??? Bah! Meh!,
I am still reeling from disappointment. I thought Brandon Sanderson did a great job on "The Gathering Storm" and "Towers of Midnight" but "A Memory of Light" has left me so disappointed, I don't know how to get it out of my head except to write this dumbo review. Basically, the story didn't have cohesion - there was way too much superfluous stuff...
Published 4 days ago by Judge Tabor
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173 of 186 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumphant finale to the series, despite a few missteps,
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.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not with a whimper but with a bang,
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.
1.0 out of 5 stars Where Was The Sanderson Who Wrote The Stormlight Archives??? Bah! Meh!,,
I am still reeling from disappointment. I thought Brandon Sanderson did a great job on "The Gathering Storm" and "Towers of Midnight" but "A Memory of Light" has left me so disappointed, I don't know how to get it out of my head except to write this dumbo review. Basically, the story didn't have cohesion - there was way too much superfluous stuff going on that didn't have to be included, while primary issues that needed to be developed toward a successful build-up were just left blowing in the wind.
I'm going to list some stuff I hated so don't read if you don't want to see some massive spoilers. These items are not listed in any order.
#1 - Lan and Nynaeve had no time together in this book except for a couple of sentences at the very end.
#2 - Perrin spends page after page after page in the dreamworld trying to find Slayer and kill him - boring, boring...
#3 - The 4 great generals who have oversight of the battle are compromised by compulsion via Graendel. After the buildup of these great men, we see Bryne, Bashere, Ituralde and Agelmar being removed from command and sitting useless. Purely disrespectful way to end the careers of these great men.
#4 - The Aiel might just as well have been left out of this book - oh, wait a minute, in my opinion - they were!
#5 - The nation of Shara shows up during the last battle - did we really need one more element added to the already bursting balloon of confusion going on? This one was ridiculous. They were not a well known people. If the author needed some other people to battle besides the boring Trollocs, why not send in the Shaido? But then again, the "good" Aiel might have had to actually have a role to play in the book.
#6 - Why in the world did we need to kill off Gareth and Siuan and Egwene and Gawyn?
#7 - Leilwin or Egeanin - whatever you prefer was so superfluous that I can't believe she was even included in the book. Plus, her character had always been portrayed as being so strong - Sanderson turned her into a wimpy marshmallow in this book.
#8 - I thought the Ashaman deserved more than they got - both in support and in details. So much more could have been made of Logain and his leadership - wasted opportunity.
I could go on and on. But the biggest issue I had after wading through so many boring pages in my effort to get "somewhere" was the dumb ending. In all fairness to Sanderson, It's my understanding the epilogue was written by Robert Jordan but here goes: Rand leaving in Moridin's body, albeit healthy and with his right mind - thinking of the places he would go and what he would do giving the three women in his life a few final thoughts - wondering if one or all of them might follow them. It was as though they were nothing to him - absolutely nothing! What about your children Elayne is carrying? What about the fact that Aviendha can't walk and may be crippled for the rest of her life, what about Min, your faithful companion and encourager? This to me was the final heartless blow. That our main guy that we had traveled with, loved with, anguished over - some readers for 23 years and all of us for 14 books, could be so blase about the people he purportedly loved?
One last item - I did like Mat's character in this book and felt it was portrayed truer than most. Sanderson did provide me with some good laughs. However, Mat should have been leading the battle from the beginning with the other captains working under him. Also, Lan's character remained true to the end - just needed more writing about Lan and Nynaeve together.
I just re-read the two books in Brandon Sanderson's Stormlight Archive Series and he is a fantastic author. I can only wonder if he had too much going on and was under too much pressure when he wrote this book.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A frenetic - sometimes too frenetic - but emotionally powerful conclusion to the most epic fantasy series penned,
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.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Finally...it all wraps up!,
I started reading this epic series in the early 90's and have been in turned frustrated, bored and then just determined to see this through come hell or high water. I suspect this was my overwhelming drive when I read this - I just wanted to know how it finished. Alas, the entire series led to essentially 900 plus pages of battle tactics and war (was I naive to expect something more?). While interesting to a point (Sanderson has masterful control over the battles raging) it became quite painful. The heart of the book is Rand's quest and a ludicrous proposition to defeat the Dark Lord. To be human is to understand the raging battle between our good nature and our inherent evil. Kay and Martin are true masters at brining this to the fore, but the scope of WOT have left the characters stretched thin, left to perform their final functions in a mechanistic fashion. Its a necessary read, not a fantastic one.
19 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just... damn. Epic.,
Without a doubt, I expected this to be epic, but I wasn't prepared for the scale of the Last Battle. From pretty much the first page right up until the last chapter, A Memory of Light delivers hard hitting, complex and fast paced action sequences interspersed with pacy dialogue and characters who die frequently.
How on earth BS managed to write this I have no idea, but I would heartily recommend it.
Just... damn. Awesome.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Slightly disappointing,
As the final book in Wheel of Time I suppose you have to read this book if you've read the 13 others. Overall the writing is OK, and the characters behave as expected. But it seems clear that Sanderson, having already filled two books with Jordan's material for one, still had too many threads to finish off and few clues as to how to do so. Some threads are ignored, others simply cut, others woven in unforeshadowed ways. The last battle is a bit of a slog and I must have skipped a bit as one sub-plot ended with no apparent resolution. I put it down with a sigh of relief, not fulfillment. Another series could be written as a sequel but I wouldn't get involved.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I've waited 10 years for this!,
Finally sitting down to enjoy the finale of Robert Jordan's fantasy epic, after a decade of avid reading. So far, 1/3 of the book through I've enjoyed it. Looks to deliver on the grand scale it's been promising for all these years. I don't think a review is necessary, since if you've stuck with the WoT this long, chances are your buying this book regardless of the reviews. You owe it to yourself to see how Rand, Matt, Perrin and crew face the final battle together against insurmountable odds.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The last book?,
This review is from: A Memory Of Light: Book 14 of the Wheel of Time (Paperback)
Enjoyable end to a memorable series, might have preferred a bit more aftermath just to clear up details of the characters
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read,
The finale was always going to be difficult, and some parts could have been better explained, others could have had less, but all in all a good wrap up to the series. Big book, and reasonably fast paced.
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A Memory Of Light: Book 14 of the Wheel of Time by Brandon Sanderson (Paperback - 31 Dec 2013)