Friday, November 15, 2013

A Memory of Light, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Yes, it is still November, and I am still busy with NaNoWriMo, so we are still revisiting the books I love the most this last year (or indeed ANY year).

A Memory of Light which was published by TOR Books on January 8, 2013, is the final installment in the epic fantasy saga, The Wheel of Time. Robert Jordan wrote the first eleven volumes in the series, nearly completing the final volume which was so huge it had to be divided into 3 books.  Unfortunately Robert Jordan passed away before the last book made it out of draft form, and after Jordan's death, Brandon Sanderson, who is famous in his own right for the epic Mistborn series, stepped in and finished the colossal undertaking, writing the final three volumes.

The Blurb:
Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with  its first book, The Eye of the World, readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.

When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.

Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

My Review:

I confess, I had my copy on pre order for a l-o-o-ong time, just waiting and drooling for this final installment, so on January 8th I hit the ground running with this book.

First off, if you haven't read the first thirteen books in the series this book will make little sense to you as it is the culmination of many, many storylines. This book is no less complicated than the thirteen books that have preceded it, so I will not be giving you a plot summary.  Instead I am going to give you my impressions and say only that some of my dearly loved characters who should have lived, die, and some who should die, do not.

Each and every one of the main characters have matured and become the sort of leaders we knew they would have to be if they were to succeed at Tarmon Gai'don, the final battle with Shai'tan, who is the personification of evil. I liked that particular twist, and feel vindicated for having stayed with the series even when it went so far afield in The Path of Daggers. Most of the many threads are brought together in this volume although  some  threads are never resolved.

Rand, Mat, and Perrin each fight the battle from a different front, and their stories and unique skills are each central to the final resolution. Logain and Olver both play crucial parts in the last battle. Many minor characters have major parts to play in determining the outcome of Tarmon Gai'don.  The strong roles played by Elayne, Egwene, Nynaeve, Moraine and the other Aes Sedai in this final battle are clear and integral to the success of Rand's bid to win this battle.  Love, loss, sorrow and the immense will to survive are part and parcel of the tapestry Sanderson has woven from Jordan's notes in this very fitting end to a monumental series.

The final battle is nothing less than epic. This encounter between Rand and Shai'tan begins with a contest of morality tales, which in the end determines Rand's course of action.

I shed tears many times, but most especially at the deaths of two important characters in particular, believing they could have accomplished so much had they lived. Yet that is what makes this book and indeed this series so fantastic - the reader CARES about the characters, and this loss makes the outcome more poignant and meaningful.

I liked the way Demandred is finally exposed and introduced into Tarmon Gai'don, and I really enjoyed the plot twist in regard to Taim, now known as M'Hael, and the way he is ultimately dealt with. All of the Forsaken are dealt with in ways both creative and fitting.

In the end, the final resolution is satisfying, and was well worth the journey. There is a large contingent of people who are upset that the epub edition won't be released until April 9, 2013, but this was a choice made by Robert Jordan's widow. I don't buy too many hard copies of books, being a fan of the Kindle, but I did make an exception for this book.   For me, some books need to be in hard copy form and the Wheel of Time Series is one of them, as are the Harry Potter books.

Amazon's reviews are rife with trolls and nay-sayers who couldn't wait to emerge from the woodwork and have their say. Apparently very few of these people purchased the book, much less read it. That is the price of success and these days it's almost an honor to have so many haters just spoiling to knock you down. But their strident caws and self-important rants should have no effect on the true fans of this series. In my humble opinion this work is a masterpiece and is a triumphant finish to the series.

I love Brandon Sanderson's handling of this series finale, and feel I more than got my money's worth from this book, as I will definitely read it again and again; it's that good. If you love this series, you will love the way it ends!

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