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One of the best reads with avg. rating of 4.51...
11 December, 2013
Overall, I was very satisfied with "A Memory of Light", Sanderson's final installment to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Having grown up with these characters, spending hundreds of hours investing myself within their storylines, watching them transcend from naive village youths into the 'movers and shakers' of a richly detailed and fully conceived world, to finally see their destined paths collide among the chaos and bloodshed of Tarmon Gai'don was breathtaking, heartbreaking, gratifying. This was a somber journey, as I knew with every passing page that I was finishing a 23-year adventure unlike any other.
Many will speak of the differences of style between Jordan and Sanderson, and even though the narrative inconsistencies in diction are more prevalent in areas than others, I still found myself amazed that Sanderson was able to take thousands of pages of material, with over dozens of distinct characters and plotlines, and masterfully bring to close Jordan's legendary tale while maintaining an overall sense of familiarity.
That there is some ambiguity in the final chapters is fitting, I find on reflection, because life itself rarely finds closure in all concerns.
"A Memory of Light" is an exhausting read, not so much due to length, which is considerable nonetheless (weighing in at over 900 pages, it's a massive tome), but because you are witnessing multiple battlefronts towards the beginning of the story, which later converge into the Last Battle; Sanderson relishes writing these scenes, and is quite adept with his descriptions of what is happening, allowing you to easily visualize the larger context. PoVs change consistently, and this transforms the war into many 'snapshots', speeding along the narrative. The overall effect is well done.
The many ways Sanderson plays with the concepts of gateways was one of my favorite aspects of this novel. Implementing them as viewpoints above battlefields from which you can gaze down through to witness the movements of troops, using them to create a lava funnel of death, or simply to brew tea was exciting to read about.
Sanderson doesn't change the core mechanics of Jordan's magic system but expounds upon it in interesting ways. Creating a weave the opposite of Balefire, using Mask of Mirrors to lure enemies into elaborate traps, or using the regenerating villagers of a small town to 'return from the dead' at a critical point during a major campaign - these elements, along with many others, give fresh perspectives to Jordan's world.
Prophecies that fans have been waiting to see fulfilled finally come to light, and in ways you least expect. Logain's glory, in particular.
This isn't to say that I found everything perfect, to my tastes. I felt Fain/Mordeth's storyline was too inconsequential for all its buildup over multiple entries to the series. I'm not particularly a fan of Fain/Mordeth, but it felt rushed. However, it's a small qualm, and didn't truly detract from my reading experience.
Bittersweet was the way I felt as I finished the last chapter. For all the braid-tugs, sniffs, arm-under-breasts and many other quirks of Jordan's prose, the Wheel of Time has been a major influence on my life and a story which has stood apart from the usual fantasy fare. Even though the industry is moving into 'darker, deeper, more complex and thoughtful' fantasy, where the lines are blurred, there are no young farmboys who become heroes nor dark lords seeking utter destruction, sometimes you want the archetypes. And the Wheel of Time is the epitome of High Fantasy.
And "A Memory of Light" its swan song.
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