Before I go into the details of this review and my thoughts about this book I should make it clear that this post will most definitely include spoilers for various parts of the book. There will be enough of them that marking each individual one would be tedious, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, bookmark this post and read it after you finish the book. If you don’t mind, then feel free to read on!
I spent the first six hours of my work day on January 8th waiting at my desk with very little to do while UPS took their sweet time delivering my copy to the office. I was hoping it would arrive in the morning sometime, but alas, I was left waiting until mid-afternoon. Despite the wait, as soon as I got my hands on a pristine copy of A Memory of Light I started right in on the reading.
After waiting so long for a conclusion to the Wheel of Time series (a little over 12 years in my case) I found A Memory of Light to be a completely satisfactory ending to the oftentimes wide-ranging and complex weaving of characters and plot. Coming into this book there were so many characters that needed their tales completed, so many plot twists that needed to be resolved, and so many events that still needed to happen. I was pleased to discover that all of the characters I wanted conclusions for managed to get them. Even some of the side characters I was curious about got their stories tied up nicely. Of course, some of the characters didn’t, which I think was intentional. There were just enough character stories left open-ended to let the readers and long-time fans of the series to dream about what might happen to them after the series was finished. There were even a handful of plot points, mostly minor ones, that were left open-ended which I’m sure is going to frustrate fans of a much more hardcore nature than myself.
For example, the fate of Tuon and the Seanchan. In the end Mat and Min are clearly major players in the Seanchan noble court and will continue to be given their relationship status’ with Tuon herself. However, at the end of the book, the ultimate fate of the Seanchan, especially their open rebellion taking place in their homeland, was left to the imagination of the reader. I will say that I was slightly disappointed by this because I found the Seanchan to be one of the most intriguing aspects of the entire series. Some people felt they were an extraneous addition to the storyline, but I often found myself wanting to know more and more about them. It’s unfortunate there won’t be any follow-up stories regarding them specifically.
I also want to take a moment to talk about the ultimate fates of Rand al’Thor and Egwene al’Vere. It was pretty apparent over the final couple of books that Egwene was being set up to do something both fantastic and immense during the Last Battle. Going in I wasn’t sure what that would be, but I can now say that I was incredibly pleased with the end result. Her ultimate sacrifice to defeat the channelers from the Sharan army in order to give the victory to her side was both amazing and surreal in my opinion. Following the death of Gawyn, her, dare I say reluctant, Warder, she needed to do something to release the pain. Release it she certainly did.
Rand’s ultimate fate was so pleasing to me I could barely contain myself. Some people figured he would have to die in order to win the Last Battle. I wanted him, along with Perrin and Mat to all survive because I’m just that kind of optimistic reader when it comes to these kind of books. I got my wish. Rand not only defeats the Dark One, but he does so in a way that teaches himself a very important lesson about the relationship between good and evil, light and dark. He also survives, but not in the way most would expect, and as a result winds up with the power to virtual think things into being. Talk about Creator-like powers. That opened up a gigantic can of worms in my mind about the possible ramifications of such a development.
It’s great to see that Rand finally gets to do what he wanted to do at the very beginning of the series. He gets to wander the land and explore all the things he heard about in stories as a small boy. Of course, he also gets to do that with a power beyond anything anyone in the land has seen before. Oh, the possibilities!
Several big names find their end in this book, all of them in fairly dramatic fashion. Particularly Gawyn and Galad Trakand, Elayne’s brothers. There is even a dramatic reveal about Galad and Rand that I should have seen coming a mile away, but didn’t. I’ll let you discover that one on your own though. Also, speaking of plot twists out of left field, wait until you see the reveal regarding Demandred and where he’s been the entire series. I dropped the book in shock.
Overall, the book was great in my opinion. The final chapter/epilogue written by Robert Jordan was left virtually untouched according to Brandon Sanderson and it brought everything together perfectly. Even better was the fact that it was entirely seamless to go from Brandon Sanderson’s writing to Robert Jordan’s. I remember thinking several times as I waited for the book that the transition would be jarring for that final piece. It definitely wasn’t. I’ll admit to being a little misty-eyed reading the final portion.
Length: 909 pages