A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brian Sanderson [Book Review]

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

A Memory of Light was written by Brandon Sanderson based off of Robert Jordan’s notes after Jordan died.  It got so huge that it was split into The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and finally “A Memory of Light”.  It was an epic finale to an otherwise rich and action-packed fantasy series that was long overdue.  

The Good

Epic:  Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and Memory of Light was a grand, epic and sweeping tale.  Major battles were fought between men and the Trollocs.  The action was gritty, detailed and explosive — literally.  

Aludra’s Dragons (cannons) came to mind.  

Everything in the previous ten or eleven books was leading up to this finale and it didn’t disappoint.  It really felt like Tarmon Gai’don arrived in force.  The only other epic fantasy stories that matched or surpassed this was Steven Erikson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (or Peter Jackson’s movie re-make of it).  

Characters:  The old favourites were the same as they always were — full of life and depth.  Perrin continued to wrestle with his wolf brother nature.  I thought it was a little overdone though it resolved itself in the end.  

Matt was Matt — the same trouble maker as he always was.  The fun, danger and jokes involving him and Tuon were quite amusing.

Sanderson and Jordan also threw in some interesting minor character stories around Pevara, Logain and Androl Genhald.  The Black Tower minor storyline was quite a scary one because the characters were faced with the prospect of being turned into Dread Lords.  

I thought it was a nice touch.  

The romance aspects between Min, Elayne, Aviendha and Rand seemed downplayed or muted.  Then again they were all separated by huge distances even though they had gateways.  Apparently saving nations and preventing Tarmon Gai’don was bigger than their love for each other.  

Pacing:  As I said above, the action was fast-paced.  There were moments of quiet but they were few and far between.  Everyone in the story on the side of Good fought for their lives.  

Good people died and not everyone got away unscathed.  

Character Deaths:  Brandon Sanderson wasn’t afraid of killing off some of the characters we’ve come to know and love.  I won’t spoil it for you if you’ve skipped finishing the Wheel of Time series so far.  Depending on who you rooted for in past books you may be disappointed or you may appreciate the fact that the world was changing.  

Not everyone was going to make it to the new one.  

Some of the bad guys you loved to hate finally got their just rewards as well. 

I thought all the deaths fit and were realistic.  They were the ones you didn’t expect.  

Tying Up Loose Ends:  Brandon did a great job of tying up all the loose ends and stories of the major characters.  From Nynaeve to Perrin, everyone got some sort of resolution to their tales.  That included Rand Al-Thor and that pesky Padan Fain.  

The End:  This links back to the “Character Deaths” aspect.  I thought Rand’s ending was the most unbelievable one but it did come at a price for the character in question.  To Rand himself it might have been a blessing.  

It did leave the possibility of further novels set in the Wheel of Time universe despite the Dragon’s Peace.  After all, Rand realized that imperfection was necessary.  If you read it, you’ll understand what I mean.  

Frankly I think Brandon pulled a Tolkien in this regard.  Think Dark One equals Sauron.

The Bad

To be honest I didn’t really feel there were many issues at all with the finale for the Wheel of Time series.  Let me see what kind of gripes I can come up with…

The End:  Personally I thought the strike at Shayol Ghul and the Field of Merrilor battle could have been more dramatic.  The battle at Merrilor ended before Rand finished up with the Dark One at Shayol Ghul.  If they finished simultaneously it would have heightened the tension.  

Would Rand’s success or defeat not only determine the survival of all existence but also affect the life-or-death battle at Merrilor and in Shayol Ghul’s valley in one deadly stroke?  

Well, Sanderson didn’t do it that way.  I really can’t fault him — he did such a great job on everything else.  

The only other thing I thought was weird was that Rand left his “wives” Min, Aviendha and Elayne at the conclusion.  It struck me as out of character for him despite the hardships he went through.  Truly it did.  

The Verdict

A Memory of Light was a great finale to an otherwise timeless and amazing series.  Sanderson did Robert Jordan’s memory justice in my opinion.  When I finished the last book I was quite sad that it was over.  

If you’ve absolutely never read The Wheel of Time series you’re missing out.  If you have, then you have witnessed the end of a piece of fantasy history.  Then again, maybe someone will come back to it again?

After all evil never dies — even Rand accepted that.

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