After 23 years, one of America’s favorite fantasy book series, The Wheel of Time, finally comes to an end. On January 2013, the 14th and final book, A Memory of Light, was released. And what an ending it well deserved.
Robert Jordan started writing the book series back in 1984, originally planning only six books, with the first book, The Eye of the World, getting published in January 1990. However, before Jordan was able to finish the series he passed away. Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal, commissioned the fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to co-author the remaining books using notes left by Jordan.
Sanderson is well known for his book series Mistborn, as well as stand-alone titles such as Warbreaker, Legion and Emperor’s Soul.
Now, this is the part where I say I won’t spoil anything or give you a warning, but you’ll find that won’t be true. As a matter of fact, this review will contain spoilers. On top of that, from here on out will be information and vocabulary that may be obscure if you’re not already familiar with the series to begin with. So while some things may fly over your head, don’t let this review spoil you from having your own reading experience. After all, everyone reads differently.
In A Memory of Light, we follow Rand al’Thor as he finally confronts The Dark One at Tarmon Gai’don, a prophesied battle that will signify the end of the Third Age. Rand hosts a meeting between the nation’s leaders to form an alliance in battling the Shadow. Though a few disapproved of his plan–a treaty that outlaws war–due to the price, they were finally convinced by Moiraine Damodred when she arrived. Moiraine is regarded as a legendary Aes Sedai, even amongst her peers.
The best part, or perhaps it’s the entire part, of this book is that the final battle is epic, massive, and well-paced. But what climactic war isn’t? However, what makes this battle that much better is that it takes place in multiple locations at the same time, covers countless perspectives of characters, and is written in narrative forms that most readers feel comfortable with.
Of course, one would wonder how such battles can be interesting when the story’s protagonist is powerful enough to annihilate armies with a single thought. But Sanderson pulled it off somehow by creating checks and balances that made readers buy into it. For example, The Dark One’s never-ending army just keeps coming, regardless of how many are slain; which sounds ridiculous but is true. That just means the good guys will eventually run out of steam. Quite an approach, don’t you think?
The actual fight between Rand and The Dark One was even more interesting, as Sanderson found a way to turn a seemingly-quick battle into an epic one that was spread out through the entire book. Due to a time dilation, their battle lasted only minutes while the rest of the world was waging wars for days. Clever, if I say so, but it does sound underwhelming. Nonetheless, great writing from Sanderson overall.
Though many fans were angered that Tor delayed the release of the e-book version, A Memory of Light still managed to become a top seller immediately after it’s publication. Harriet shared concerned that a split sale between both physical and digital copies may undermine Jordan’s legacy, as well as hinder the book from reaching number one.
Sanderson did an amazing job in incorporating his writing into Jordan’s universe. Some critics even argue that he gave readers an ending to the series that was better than anything Jordan could have come up with. After all, a single author writing more than 11 novels can derail the story in itself. So it was a great thing that Sanderson picked up the reins, though it’s unfortunate to see it come at the cost of another’s passing.
As it stands, I’m not the biggest fan of The Wheel of Time nor am I one of Robert Jordan. In fact, reading through 14 lengthy novels about a single story can be rather demoralizing. I am, however, an avid reader. And what I do enjoy is the creation of worlds and how they’ve come to fruition.
This series is exactly that. It’s fantasy. It’s creative. It’s fun. Go out and pick up a copy today. Or if you’re new, then start with book one and see where it takes you.