Sunday, March 10, 2013

Sunday Reviews: A Memory of Light

Sunday Reviews Week 5

A Memory of Light

After over 20 years, 14 books, the death of Robert Jordan who began the series, thousands of pages, and millions of words, Brandon Sanderson has brought us the conclusion to the Wheel of Time in A Memory of Light.  And it is an amazing ending, though one that is hard to really review.

After Robert Jordan's untimely death, the future of the series had been left uncertain.  Shortly before his death, Jordan made clear that he wished his story to be finished.  His wife and editor, Harriet McDougal, fulfilled this wish by bringing on Brandon Sanderson to finish the series after reading a touching eulogy Sanderson had written for the late Jordan and his first published novel, Elantris.  Sanderson took the helm of the series for the final three volumes under the direction of sections written by Jordan, Jordan's notes, and the guidance of Harriet.  It helped that Sanderson was also a massive fan of the Wheel of Time.  He has made it clear in many interviews that The Wheel of Time was one of the biggest influences in his becoming a writer and that his becoming published by TOR books was due to wanting to be published by the same publisher that released Jordan's books.

Okay, enough background.  There is little detail I can go into in this review without giving away spoilers, so I'll keep things as general as possible.  First of all, I have to say that this final volume does not let up on the action.  I mean, this is the Last Battle, Tarmon Gai'don.  This has been built up over literally millions(like 4.5 million or so)of words. There is a chapter actually titled "The Last Battle" which is over 200 pages long.  Yes, a 200 page chapter.  That even puts some of Jordan's early, sprawling prologues to shame.  And it works.

One criticism of Jordan's work was that he mostly played it safe with his major characters.  Nearly all the major "good guys" have lived throughout this epic.  Don't get too comfortable when reading this book, though.  All bets are off in the Last Battle.

Sanderson has done a brilliant job of tying up most of the major loose ends in the series, though you shouldn't expect the dozens of smaller threads to be addressed.  The climactic Last Battle brings the series into a very satisfying conclusion, one that is not overly complex or comprising of some major plot twist.  All of the major characters readers have come to know and love are each given a little snapshot of where they stand after all is said and done.  One thing I love about Sanderson's writing in A Memory of Light, is that you never go long between the viewpoints of the major characters.  I say this because Jordan was notorious for making you read hundreds of pages to find out what happened to a particular character after leaving you with a nerve-wracking cliffhanger.

I find it hard to come up with any complaints about this book.  It serves the exact purpose it was supposed to.  There is not a lot of character growth or development, but there isn't supposed to be.  This is supposed to serve as the culmination of the thirteen preceding volumes.

Finishing A Memory of Light was bittersweet for me.  It was wonderful to reach the conclusion, but its also hard to accept that this world and the characters that inhabit it, ones that I have grown to know over the past 15 years of my life, are finally at an end.

For any fans of fantasy who have never tried this series, you should 100% pick up The Eye of The World(the first in the series) right now.  The Wheel of Time has been one of the most pivotal fantasy series of this generation, and will likely always stand as one of the greatest fantasy series of all time.  It's true that there were a few meandering books towards the middle of the series, but you'd be hard pressed to find a more finely crafted world or a more brilliantly written fantasy work.


Find out more about Brandon Sanderson here

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