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Thursday, February 28, 2013

“A Memory of Light” by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson (Reviewed by Sabine Gueneret)

Order “A Memory of LightHERE (US) + HERE (UK)
Listen To An Excerpt HERE

INTRODUCTION: And here we are at last . . . the final book in The Wheel of Time series. Many fans have been awaiting this conclusion for the last several years; I for one started reading the series ten years ago and I must say that The Wheel of Time is the ultimate reference for me when it comes to speaking about fantasy. It is the work that drove me to the genre and to this day I have not found another fantasy series that can compete with it, even if A Song of Ice & Fire comes somewhat close.

After a long wait of over two years (the previous volume, Towers of Midnight, was released in late 2010), A Memory of Light has finally arrived. My expectations were so great that I had to mentally prepare myself to be disappointed—this is somehow paradoxical, I know, but how could this incredible story come to an end? If the book is too vague or leaves things unexplained then it would not be a satisfying conclusion to the series. On the other hand, if too many things are explained, you lose the thrill of anticipation that has always been, for me, the best feature of the series. So it was with a palpable mix of excitement and apprehension that I read the final volume in The Wheel of Time

AUTHOR INFORMATION: As many of you know, Robert Jordan (October 17, 1948–September 16, 2007), the original writer of The Wheel of Time, passed away in 2007. He suffered from cardiac amyloidosis, a very rare disease that took him away only 18 months after being diagnosed. He was also known for being one of the writers of Conan the Barbarian in the 1980s, even though his masterpiece was The Wheel of Time, the first volume of which, The Eye of The World, was published in 1990.

With Jordan suddenly gone, fans of The Wheel of Time shared the same fear—would the dragon ever ride the wings of time again? Were we doomed to never find out whether Rand Al’Thor would succeed in the last battle?

Soon enough though, it was announced that the series would continue on through the use of Robert Jordan’s notes, while written by a successor chosen by Jordan’s widow, Harriet Rigney.

Brandon Sanderson was the chosen one. Best known for his fantasy work in the Mistborn series and The Stormlight Archive, Brandon grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and teaches creative writing at Brigham Young University. He currently lives in Utah with his wife and children.

Originally, Sanderson was just supposed to write the last book of the series, but due to the amount of notes gathered by Harriet, it was decided early on to split the final novel into three volumes: The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light. Once The Gathering Storm was released in 2009, most fans were reassured by Harriet’s choice: The Wheel of Time was in capable hands.

FORMAT/INFO: A Memory of Light is the fourteenth and final volume in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. It was published in Hardcover format in both North America and the UK on January 8, 2013 via Tor Books and Orbit Books UK. The US cover art (see above) was provided by Michael Whelan.

OFFICIAL PLOT SYNOPSIS:And it came to pass in those days, as it had come before and would come again, that the Dark lay heavy on the land and weighed down the hearts of men, and the green things failed, and hope died.” From Charal Drianaan te Calamon, The Cycle of the Dragon

In the Field of Merrilor the rulers of the nations gather to join behind Rand al’Thor, or to stop him from his plan to break the seals on the Dark One’s prison—which may be a sign of his madness, or the last hope of humankind. Egwene, the Amyrlin Seat, leans toward the former.

In Andor, the Trollocs seize Caemlyn.

In the wolf dream, Perrin Aybara battles Slayer.

Approaching Ebou Dar, Mat Cauthon plans to visit his wife Tuon, now Fortuona, Empress of the Seanchan.

All humanity is in peril—and the outcome will be decided in Shayol Ghul itself. The Wheel is turning, and the Age is coming to its end. The Last Battle will determine the fate of the world...

For twenty years The Wheel of Time has enthralled more than forty million readers in over thirty-two languages. A Memory of Light brings this majestic fantasy creation to its richly satisfying conclusion.

Working from notes and partials left by Robert Jordan when he died in 2007, and consulting with Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson has recreated the vision Jordan left behind.

ANALYSIS: In the frantic week spent reading A Memory of Light—and believe me, to carry around such a HUGE book in London public transport is no small commitment (no choice since the ebook version would not be released before April, and I wasn’t going to wait that long)—I didn’t use my critiquing mindset. A state of mind that stayed with me for some time afterwards, as the shock of being finished with The Wheel of Time was just too big. As a result, I’ve decided not to examine A Memory of Light in very much detail since a) I could write for ages, and b), so many people have already analyzed the book in-depth. In short, this is just my two cents on what I thought of the book. It will be up to you to read A Memory of Light yourself and make your own opinion about whether the book was a satisfying conclusion to The Wheel of Time or not.

First off, I thought the plot in A Memory of Light had really good pacing since it didn’t feel like I had just read over 900 pages. In the previous volumes, the story sometimes dragged on and would lose itself in secondary plots. In A Memory of Light however, the plot was more straightforward focusing on The Last Battle and builds up tension all the way to the finale. Along the way, the story completes Robert Jordan’s interesting vision of good and evil, in all of its subtle nuances, which had somehow disappeared in the previous volumes under a pile of more political considerations.

Admittedly, the ending confused me slightly. A lot happened very quickly and I still do not understand the final revelation, which might be because I had forgotten things from the previous books (I only read volumes twelve and thirteen once). Also, not all questions are answered which left me with a bittersweet feeling, but as I explained in the INTRODUCTION, too many answers would not have been satisfying either. As a result, as soon as I finished A Memory of Light, all I wanted to do was start reading the whole series again to fill out the gaps! Nevertheless, many loose ends were tied up, and overall it was a very satisfying conclusion.

In terms of characters, it was a major delight to watch all of the protagonists joining forces for the Last Battle, with a special mention for the Two Rivers folks who played such an important role in the series. These characters have been part of my life for so long now, and are so rich and vivid, that reading about them in A Memory of Light was, in way, like meeting with good old friends. So, it was good to see that each character stayed true to who they are, while providing me with a good laugh from time to time—a thankful occurrence since the atmosphere of the book can definitely be dark.

Lastly, the world-building, which has always been a major feature of The Wheel of Time, is once again spectacular. The only new addition to this already densely detailed setting is the apparition of the Sharan from the Far East. Personally, I wish we could have learned more about the Sharan, but that probably would have required another book!

CONCLUSION: A Memory of Light does its job properly, offering fans of the series many epic moments while staying true to the spirit of The Wheel of Time. Granted, it may not be the perfect ending to Robert Jordan’s magnum opus—can there be a perfect ending to the turning of the Wheel of Time?—but at least it is an ending...

7 comments:

dov said...

I have to admit I disagree a bit in your analysis. When I finished the book like you I was content.

Then I started thinking who was andrhol and how we he mentioned as the main character in the dark tower. We barely even know him. Logain got a secondary role.

Did we need a view point from every person who ever was in the book?

Moiraine, did not get utilized enough at all, despite how big of a character she came by being absent.

How about Fain? He was that third wheel that has always been there in the back, as a power. Yet his role in the book was laughable.

Perrin fight was awesome, yet it seemed to take up way to much of the book.

Moghedien being captured in the end like that, the spider? Really how was the not hiding her ability to channel or sensed the other woman.

In hindsight, I think the book was maybe 3/5 stars.

Pabkins said...

Yeah - carrying around the book must have been a pain I hear you! I think its ridiculous they delayed the release til April!
Pabkins @ My Shelf Confessions

Tuesday Wang said...

I was severely disappointed by the book. The pacing as your said was fine.

The utilisation of characters were not.

Seriously. Moiraine and Nynaeve spent the last battle clinging to a couple of rocks? I'm sure I speak for all (even those who hate Nynaeve) that we had all come to expect great things from her.

The horse. Dying from an arrow in the flank. Are you kidding me?

Siuan - no death scene.

And what happened to Egwene was just wrong. It felt contrived, like.. oh I need some major character to off, so oh well, let's go with her coz she's the most plausible.

The use of the one power was.. kiddy. The only person with some cool bits to show was Androl, and WHO WAS HE AGAIN???

In Jordan's versions, the Shadow was always sinisterly evil. Malignant, malicious. Causing pain for no other reason than the pleasure of it. Its evil was sick and tortured and demented.

Saunderson's evil is MEHHHHHH. It's the kiddy version. It's like, ohhh you're on the other side and you've got trollocs eating humans, therefore you're evil and you speak in a dark booming voice in CAPS.

Mirza Ghalib said...

A fitting end to the Wheel of Time. The characters shine throughout the series, most ends tied with the future left to the reader's imagination. There are parts to make you cry and parts to make you laugh. The Last Battle is upon us and the Dragon reborn goes to Shayol Ghul to battle the Dark One. There was many battle scenes and they show Jordan's military genius with beautifully written. The epilogue except for some parts has been wholly written by RJ before his death.

I started reading in the evening and did not stop till next morning

Jose pasada said...

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Shayar said...

I am biggest fan of Fantasy Book Critic, God Bless You...

Love, Shayar

Anonymous said...

After reading the wheel of time to book 10 over 4 times and then finally reading the last books I Have to say I will never read the story again. The last books by Brandon Sanderson have been a complete let down, his writing is weak, his thought process is just not on Jordan's Level, his attention to detail pathetic. His Characterization thing. The last book Memory of Light was horrible! Great Chess Battle but everything else and it's out comes pathetic. It really misses to much it's not Lord of Chaos! I am done with the Wheel of Time.
Which is Sad I loved Min and Rand.

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