A Memory of Light



Okay, so this was a very difficult review to write. . . I took my time before writing it, not wanting the extreme disappointment I felt when I reached the last page of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's A Memory of Light to have too much of a negative influence on this review. But even after waiting for the dust to settle, looking back I can't quite come up with anything positive to say about the final installment of The Wheel of Time. Other than it's finally over, that is. Sadly, and this was my biggest fear as I was reading along, the book is all filler and no killer. In my opinion, A Memory of Light is by far the weakest WoT volume of the entire series, weaker even than Crossroads of Twilight. At least CoT had some good stuff at the end. . .

I began reading The Wheel of Time in 1991, right after The Dragon Reborn was released in hardcover. I've been a big fan ever since. And regardless of its shortcomings, I've always maintained that Jordan's magnum opus remained one of the very best fantasy series out there. The first six volumes raised the bar to such a high level that Jordan's subsequent efforts could never match, true. Still, overall, a new WoT installment was always a literary highlight of any given year for me, as we were always one step closer to reaching the Last Battle. Having finished A Memory of Light and seeing how poorly it was all brought to a close, I'm not sure where I'd rank The Wheel of Time among other popular SFF series that left their mark on the genre anymore. Nowhere near the top, that's for sure. . .

Given how Jordan vehemently defended the fact that A Memory of Light would be written as a single book even if it had to be 2000 pages long and then later, after Tom Doherty discussed the last WoT volume, admitted that it might have to be split into two installments but no more, from the start I suspected that Team Jordan's decision to split it into three volumes was just all the parties involved selling out and trying to cash in on the ending of this beloved series as much as humanly possible. I've been quite vocal about this since it was first announced, and Sanderson himself got in touch with me, telling me to be patient, to read and find out that three volumes were indeed required to bring the series to a close the way Robert Jordan had always envisioned it. As expected, it turns out it was bullshit. . .

There are so many problems with A Memory of Light that I don't even know where to start. But in a way, I'm glad it's over. No, most long-time fans didn't get the ending they were hoping for now that Jordan has passed away. But it is an ending. I for one hope that the outrigger series will never see the light. After 14 volumes, I think it's time to lay this series to rest. . .

Here's the blurb:

‘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.

In both The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight, the problem was that in order to get to the good stuff, one was required to sift through a lot of extraneous plotlines or scenes that didn't always have that much of an impact or influence on the principal story arcs of the series. We now know that all three books were filled with padding material and that splitting A Memory of Light into two halves would have been possible and would have made for a much better reading experience. As it is, all three installments were plagued by a sluggish pace for sizable chunks of the narrative, during which the plot was going nowhere.

The better part of A Memory of Light is essentially an unending panoply of battle scenes that do nothing to move the various storylines forward. I doubt that Robert Jordan meant for the grand finale of The Wheel of Time to be an interminable ensemble of boring battles seen through the eyes of basically every single character that has ever appeared in the series. I mean, did we truly need POVs from secondary protagonists such as Uno, Tam al'Thor, Juilin Sandar, Leane, etc. For Christ's sake, I expected Bela to have her own POV!

The main problem with A Memory of Light is that after such a long build-up, the most important key scenes left to wrap up the series are either rushed in such a way as to rob them of the impact they so rightfully deserve, or they are done so clumsily that it kills any emotional impact that should have been associated with them. For example, Sanderson felt the need to show readers virtually every single skirmish taking place in Andor and the Borderlands, filling up hundreds of pages with fights against Trollocs and other agents of the Shadow. And yet, the culmination of the prophecy "He will bind the nine moons to serve him," which is crucial if the forces of Light are to have a chance to win the Last Battle, was so damn lame that it's almost a joke.

There are plenty of long-awaited scenes that were dealt with very poorly. The worst has to be the resolution of the Padan Fain storyline. I've always believed that Jordan meant for Fain to be some sort of Gollum character and that he would play a key role at the end. Well, after writing hundreds of pages of meaningless and interchangeable battles, Sanderson deals with that plotline almost as an afterthought. Other aspects such as Logain's prophesied glory are also dealt with in a similar fashion.

The same can be said of the body count and its impact on the reader. A number of characters do bite the dust, which was surprising. But it's Jordan, so a number of them at first thought to be dead do survive in the end. Fans have grown attached emotionally to several WoT protagonists over the years. Everyone knows that. I know that and you know that. Team Jordan supposedly knew that, and so did Sanderson. Oddly enough, though page after page are "wasted" chronicling the deaths of nameless soldiers falling to the Trollocs and the Fades, the death of main characters are rushed through so fast it robs them of any emotional impact whatsoever.

The characterization is the weakest facet of this novel. There is no point discussing Mat ad nauseam. Brandon Sanderson pretty much killed him in TGS. I've always claimed that the author can't quite manage shades of grey, that most of his characters are always black or white. That's pretty much been the case since he started working on the WoT, which means that he's more comfortable with certain characters and could never really do anything with others. That is probably why he focused on Androl and Pevara to bring the Black Tower storyline to its culmination. His depiction of villains such as Mazrim Taim and Demandred was so bad it made me long for well-drawn protagonists such as Jar-Jar Binks. Awful. . . Just awful. . .

Speaking of the infamous Forsaken, his coming out of left field with a powerful army could have been foreshadowed much better than this. Jordan provided a few hints in the past, but almost nothing from TGS and ToM could prepare us for what came out of that gateway. Again, that was poor execution regarding an important plot point. I was forced to peruse my copy of The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time to find out more about his army and their channelers. I mean, we were forced to sift through interminable sequences featuring Lan and other fighters battling the forces of the Shadow, yet Sanderson didn't see fit to give us a few paragraphs elaborating on the newcomers to refresh our memories. In addition, Demandred enters the Last Battle bearing one of the only two sa'angreal more powerful than Callandor that a male channeler can use. For some unfathomable reason, Sanderson and Team Jordan felt that some background information on the Sakarnen, what it does and where it was found, was unnecessary.

A Memory of Light is written in Brandon Sanderson's own narrative voice. In TGS, Sanderson explained that he tried to adapt his own writing style to The Wheel of Time. But in this last volume, it's Sanderson through and through. Which doesn't really work all that well, to tell the truth. A Memory of Light reads more like The Way of Kings than any other WoT installment.

For years we've known that Robert Jordan wrote the final scene when he started working on The Eye of the World. I've read the last few chapters a number of times and I still can't put my finger on which one, scene or full chapter, could have been written by Jordan. He often mentioned that there was a "hook" in that final scene, but for the life of me I can't really see what it was. Once more, the endgame was rushed rather thoroughly. After nearly 900 pages of sluggishness, all of a sudden everything goes downhill and it all ends in a matter of about 20 pages or so. The epilogue does little to tie up a few loose ends, bringing the series to a decidedly lackluster ending.

I've been a WoT fan for more than two decades. I so wanted to love this book. You have no idea how much. But the structure of the novel, what with about 750 pages worth of bloody battle after bloody battle, precluded any kind of depth and failed to cap off The Wheel of Time with an exclamation point. As I mentioned before, it was all filler and no killer.

Bloated and uninspired, A Memory of Light is the biggest literary disappointment of my life. I would have preferred Jordan's notes and the outline to what we ended up getting. . .

May Robert Jordan rest in peace.

The final verdict: 5/10

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48 commentaires:

Cursed Armada said...

Wow what a bummer... I've never read this series and I don't really intend to. I came to the fantasy scene with Abercrombie, Bakker, Lynch, and Rothfuss and I've never really enjoyed Sanderson. I just couldn't imagine one of my favorite series of all time coming to such a shitty conclusion. It's been interesting to watch this unfold from the sidelines, but I think now I can confirm that the sidelines are the right place to stay.

Russ said...

One of my biggest fears is that we'll be reading this same type of review about A Song of Ice and Fire in about 15 years.....

JRQ said...

I gave WoT up after reading Knife of Dreams, which, upon finishing, made me finally realize I should have given it up after Crown of Swords (or thereabouts). I can't even Remember much of what happened after Crown of Swords.

Still, WoT was what got me interested in modern fantasy. I probably would never have eventually read Martin, Hobb, Bakker, Abercrombie, Lynch, Mieville et al. had I not stumbled first across Eye of the World in college in 1993.

But by the time the first half of the full WoT story was over, man, it was clear WoT would be completely unfinishable without serious disappointment.

And eventually it started happening that every time I went to pick up some other book to read to tide me over for the next WoT installment, I kept finding stuff that blew the last WoT I read out of the water.

Nick Tab said...

Sanderson is the most overrated writer in the business today. I've been saying it for years. They should have gotten David Farland to finish the series. His writing style is more akin to Jordan's.

Noricavus said...

Thank you Nick Tab for saying it. It needs to be said more on /r/fantasy. It's also a Sanderson cult over there.

I'm stuck at almost page 300 where I've been for awhile. I don't know when I will finish it. I was so looking forward to this last book.

Anonymous said...

Pat,

Reviews like this one show exactly why you can't even consider hanging it up. The SFF blogosphere needs you! In a matter of a couple of weeks, you thrashed both the Wheel of Time and the Malazan saga, even though both series rank among your favorites.

I always appreciate your honesty and your candor even if I don't always agree with your reviews.

Didn't think much of AMoL myself, but I haven't been a big fan of the series since about the 8th book. So no big deal for me. But I thought your review was pretty much spot on about what didn't work...

Keep up the good work!

Freddy

Taxalian said...

Makes me feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick a football . One more try.....

Anonymous said...

To me the biggest disappointment is how Sanderson dropped the ball on the big picture, i.e. the whole turning of the Wheel / beginning of a new age aspect of the story.

RaduC said...

I always expected to hear more about what Rand thought about the Lewis Therin being known as the Kinslayer; I'd have liked Rand to have had a conversation with Tam about Therin being a father and why he and Ilyena decided to have children during the War of Shadow (among other things).

Anonymous said...

@Noricavus gl posting on r/fantasy you just get downvoted to hell for saying AMOL was shit

Anonymous said...

I see where you're coming from on a lot of points. I liked Logain's storyline however. I thought it came to a nice emotional end (for me at least). However I think his prophesied glory was yet to come. What we saw was merely the beginning. He'll go off to lead the Asha'man for a long time I imagine, changing the way male channellers are viewed.

Jordan wrote the whole epilogue. I think the "hook" was that you could wonder what further adventures Rand would find down the road and his three women coming after him at various points, etc. I think Jordan overestimated certain ideas at times, like the "hook" being much of a "hook". I know some were rather meh about Rand losing his hand when Jordan had hinted at some big gasp in that book.

I would have liked more on Demandred's sa'angreal though and his story in general. All we got was one scene with some woman he has a few feelings for and it felt like they just forced that in there to make him not so evil or something.

Anonymous said...

Great review. (Keep it up*, Pat.)

Thanks.

cseresz(.reborn)

*honesty


PS: I got banned again = goodbye westeros.org!

David Selig said...

So let me get this straight - KoD, half of which is pure bloat like 5 pages of Mat buying a horse or half a page description of every random Aea Sedai Egwene meets in the Tower corridors, is 10/10 for you, Pat, but AMOL is too bloated? Oh, the irony...

Anonymous said...

I wish I could disagree with you, Pat, but I can't. This was a huge diaappointment.

I do disagree with you in laying it all at Sanderson's feet. Clearly his style was the wrong one for this task, but Jordan himself built in the bloat in the last few volumes he rote, and Harriett I believe was the driving force behind the outline and what had to be included.

Sascha Walter said...

I stopped reading WoT after Fires of Heaven because by the time the next book came out I had forgotten who half the people were and also forgotten 50% of the side plots. I would have had to read the previous books again, just to be "in" the story again. I wanted to wait for the last book to come out before I read the whole series.

But now with your review I am not so sure anymore. I like Brandon Sanderson's own stuff so far (haven't read the Way of Kings yet, it is book 1 of 10). But it seems he was not able to finish WoT adequately, which is a pity.

So it looks like I will leave WoT be and read the Malazan Book of the Fallen instead.

Concerning A Song of Ice and Fire. Someone told me that Martin already put down that if he dies before he can finish the series, no one is to finish it in his stead? That the series will forever be unfinished?

Xazy said...

That was almost exactly my opinion of the last book.

The one part you left out was how MOghedian was captured, the spider, the one who creeps in the dark was just out there with the ability to channel showing for anyone to see?

I do not think so.

amysrevenge said...

I disagree with most of the review, but I can understand where you're coming from. No hard feelings.

machinery said...

seriosuly, i no longer have any idea what goes around in your circles pat.
you gave the horrible piece of shit book 10 of the malazan a rating of 12 out of 10, yet this book whcih was ok, a 7.5 , you gave it 5 ?
maybe the problem is with me, do you read the book as a story and rates it as a whole, or as a proffesor of literature who is interested in characters, motives and such ?
for all it's short comings sanderson did one thing good, which i seriously doubted he would succeed in :
he closed all the story lines. (well i am 60% through the book, and it seems like this is where the book is going).

Unknown said...

Well said, Pat. I'd been reading WoT since 1994 and was thoroughly underwhelmed. Sadly, it seems that there are a shocking number of reviewers who let their fandom take over their good sense. This is, without doubt, one of the most poorly edited books I have ever read.

And, as you say, the characterization is exceptionally bad - this combined with a stunning number of cop-out near-deaths and the POV hit-parade that you mention just left me feeling totally unimpressed with Sanderson's ability as an author.

It seemed like large swaths of this book were written like fan-fiction: this is what the fans want to read. I think that is probably Sanderson's greatest sin here (we can talk about the sheer bloat of the three books ad nauseum); he did not stay true to Jordan's vision, rather he stayed true to the fans' vision and wrote the book the preponderance of fans wanted.

This I would argue is not the book that stays true to Jordan's vision - it is, as you say, Sanderson's voice through and through and it is his book. Such a pity.

Anonymous said...

I've never seen Pat give any Sanderson work more than a lukewarm (C+ or so) reception. Couple the fact he clearly doesn't connect with this particular author with the fact that this was the final installment in one of his favorite series of all time, and you have a review ripe for personal biases. No way this book deserves a 5/10. Speaking as someone who has read the entire series recently, and who had no nostalgic connection to the series in the first place, this book is easily superior to the true "all filler, no killer" volumes RJ produced in books 7-11.

Dave said...

To me the writing really just didn't "feel" like a Wheel of Time novel to me which was my biggest issue with it. I do enjoy battle scenes though - maybe it's just the inner teenage boy in me so at least I didn't mind those scenes.

Not a fan of what he did with gateways though, Sanderson mentioned in an interview that the new uses for gateways was all him.

Eric Leblanc said...

AMoL is not without is weak points, but I think you give way too much credit to Robert Jordan in the entire serie. Unnessary fillers? These were needed because of the countless useless open plot points opened by Jordan from book 7-10. I would say in fact that books 7-10 were fillers by themselves. And do you remember that famous battle (Dumai Well I think) where Rand, captured by Red sisters, was getting freed? There were so much PoV in that battle it took almost a third of aCoS book, for frankly a not so important battle when you think about it, at least compared to the Last Battle.

I don't mind your review really, varied opinions are important, but I just feel that Sanderson did what he could with the mess that Jordan left unfinished.

Blend said...

I still don't really understand how you thought a book all about the Last Battle wouldn't be all about battles...

I personally LOVE battle scenes, so I devoured MoL in a few sittings. I think that your personal bias and personal expectations, and your dislike for Sanderson in general, have really tainted your opinion of this. Pevara and Androl were my favourite characters.

I think that the way Demandred was FINALLY introduced into the storyline was great. He built up the 'where is Demandred' thing a few times leading up to the big reveal, but considering the amount of hype over who Demandred is combined with him suddenly showing up with a Sharan Army (and come on, who didn't expect him to have an army, it has been foreshadowed for several books) was beautiful. I personally expected him to show up at a most inopportune time, heading an army and most likely from somewhere we haven't seen. *shrugs*

About the only thing I agree with you about in your review is the waste of Padan Fain. You're right, it seems he was thrown in there as an afterthought. But really, how much crap did Sanderson have to get through?

Anyway, as other have said, differences of opinion are fine, I just think that you were predisposed to dislike the book before you even started reading it.

MConrad said...

I think this review is overly harsh as well. We've been reading about the "LAST BATTLE" for 20 years now. Not the Last Exposition, not the Last Goodbye, but the LAST BATTLE. I loved the battle scenes, and found them to be some of the best and most coherent combat scenes in the last several years in the genre.

I also think that there was a certain desire to NOT add elements to the story, or expand the story beyond what Jordan had in his notes. I get his from reading articles and listening to Harriet and Brandon at a signing. I think that is why you don't get overly long goodbye scenes or great details about where the characters go beyond the Last Battle. If Jordan hadn't mapped that out, then they did not want to include or ADD new details to carry the characters beyond what Jordan had already built.

They also have said point-blank that Outriggers won't happen, and that Jordan's notes on the subject amount to 2 sentences.

So Sanderson was kind of boxed-in as far as what he could add into the story, and the elements he had to include. In spite of that I feel like Sanderson injected some much needed life into a series that had pretty much stalled out, advanced the story and completed his work in a timely and professional manner. AMoL is not a PERFECT book but I found it a very satisfying conclusion to the series.

MConrad said...

I agree with Blend. We've been hearing about the Last Battle for 20 years and 13 books, I would've been dissatisfied with anything less than the large scale battle we got. I thought it was fascinating to watch how the powers of light and dark countered each other in the back and forth leading to the final showdown on the fields of Merrilor.

AMoL was not a perfect book, but I found it to be a very satisfying conclusion to the series. It does feel like some characters and scenes got the short shrift, but I get the impression that there was some hesitation from Brandon and Harriet to expand too much on what Jordan had laid out for each character beyond the Last Battle. I went to see Brandon and Harriet speak at a book signing, and the impression that I got is that they really don't want extend the world beyond Jordan's Epilogue. So you don't really get the kind of expansive "and they lived happily ever after" kind of ending because in order to give us in depth character details of life after the Last Battle they'd have to fabricate details that Jordan never put down. They also said point-blank that Outriggers won't happen, and that Jordan's notes on the subject amount to 2 sentences.

Joakim Ek Hallvist said...

I have had a similar relation to WoT as you Pat and must say that considering where the series was going when Jordan was writing it Sanderson didnt do any worse than what I think Jordan himself would have. Books 1-2 were good, 3-6 amazing and 7-11 awful with some truly shockingly bad instalments. Sanderson's three books while nowhere close Lord of Chaos or Fires of Heaven are still better than Knife of Dreams or Crossroads of Twilight. Sanderson finished the series as a decent craftsman and gave people like me who have followed WoT for 20 years an ending.

Thomas said...

I'm not a WoT "fan" or "hater". The series was mediocre from start to finish. Some good books, some bad, but overall nothing to be excited about.
I disagree with the review. Not that it was a "great" book, but it was leaps and bounds better than anything Jordan had written after book 6, around the same lavel with the other 2 Sanderson books and some of Jordan first books.
Sure, it reads more like a Forgotten Realms novel than a WoT one with all the action and the "cool" moments, but late Jordan was way worse than that.
Also,for me the worst part of the book was the last 20 pages. And that part was all Jordan.
Would Jordan have managed to finish the series in two books? Maybe. Would they be good? I don't think so

Paul D said...

Thomas,you hit the nail on the head. It's hard to understand how anyone could hate this series since Jordan started killing the series with book 7. This is all you could expect. Hell, we know that Jordan would never have finished the series.

Anonymous said...

Such a disappointment, that after reading 7,500+ pages of this series, you come to understand how much pure greed played in destroying this once promising work. Should of stopped at 7 books, Robby.

Anonymous said...

I finished the book yesterday and all I feel is empty. I knew this book wouldn't be awesome, but it should have been by all means. It's really disappointing how they dropped the ball.

WoT will still stand as the greatest fantasy series of all time, and that makes it such a shame that the final half of the series sucks exponentially.

I will read the whole thing again in a few years, but I need something else in the meantime. But what? When and where WoT is great, nothing comes close. Who's going to pick up the slack?

Debrich said...

This is why I continue to follow you. Fair reviews. I rely on that.

Anonymous said...

I can't help thinking : how would these books have ended when Steven Erikson had a go at it. He really is someone who can picture a battle scene, even with a lot of POV's.

Thomas said...

Anon,
WoT will still stand as the greatest fantasy series of all time/the final half of the series sucks exponentially.
how these two parts can be in the same sentence? If half the series sucks, the series can't be the "greatest in all fantasy", unless you have read only bad fantasy until now. WoT could be one of the best IF it was a six book series.As it stands...no.
The thing WoT does best is the worldbuilding.In that indeed is top 3 material.But as whole series go, there are other out there that are better.Malazan wins over WoT in worldbuilding. ASOIAF has the best characters out there.Abercrombie,Bakker,Tom Lloyd, all of them have written very good series.
Sanderson's Stormlight Archives is more in the WoT style.
My point is that if you can pinpoint what aspect of WoT you liked best,chances are there are authors that did it better than Jordan,or at least without the bloat.

Anonymous said...

I did not finish this series. I stopped reading when Jordan died.
After my experience with what Frank Herbert's son and Kevin Anderson did to the Dune series, I never wanted to read anything again that was finished by another author "based on extensive notes"
For myself, the tone and style of the works and the story itself is more important than an ending and this never seems to translate when a new author picks up where another left off.
Also same deal with the splitting the final volume up to milk the series for every dollar it was worth.

Anonymous said...

" I know some were rather meh about Rand losing his hand when Jordan had hinted at some big gasp in that book."

The big gasp moment in KoD wasn't Rand losing his hand, it was the collective mass suicide of an entire people.

C.B.

Jason C said...

I mostly agree with the review but I thought the ending did have some decent parts to it (aside from the scene with Thom coming up with words for his ballad while guarding the entrance to the Pit of Doom, I think that was quite possibly the most terrible scene I have ever read, ever!)

Anyway, I also think you need to keep on giving us these honest reviews. Your's is the only review of AMoL that I've read so far that tells it like it is; and I find that for the books I've read that you've reviewed, my personal feelings usually match yours. Plus, it was your review of Under Heaven that got me reading Guy Gavriel Kay and I thank you for that! I'm eagerly awaiting River of Stars.

Benjamin said...

Not a fair review. I liked the battle sequences and the POV of secondary characters. But as the Romans say: suum cuique

andrew said...

I loved wheel of time, I loved TGS, but AMOL is a HUGE letdown. The ending is great, but the process was interminable. Chapter after chapter of boring bloody battle scenes that bored the hell out of me. Why did we have to spend all that time in TOM reading about boring elaine building up here boring empire only to see it torn to boring pieces again in AMOL. boring. boring. boring. AMOL is a failure. We waited till 2013 for a mammoth failure. Why? I firmly beleive that TOM and AMOL should be recalled by tor - and the two books merged into one TIGHT fast paced BRILLIANT novel. Splitting them into two books has destroyed the series. I fully agree with the review - I REALLY WANTED to like AMOL but it was just too painfully for words. This is the WORST book in the series. Great ending. Crap book.

Anonymous said...

But I bet if you had been in the book Pat, like you were in Dance with Dragons, then you'da given it a 9. Because let's face it, that book was crap but because you were in it you felt the obligation to puff up the score.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering if they ever referred to The Last Battle as Tarmon Gai'don in this last book or not? I think not and do not know why.

This book was like bad medicine. Had to take it to cure an illness that I got back in 1996, but tasted horrendous.


David H

Vlatko Goljevacki said...

I LIKED A Memory of Light. I also liked Towers of Midnight and The gathering storm. It's a continuation of the story, and I'm glad we got it.
But the last three books are very different from the rest of the series. Different in tone and development. After spending time with 11 books with Jordan, I got a feel for the man's writing. He's an amazing writer, and his strength lies not in pacing but in his ability to portray characters and important moments, and his ability to make the story feel like a big, continuous entity instead of it being episodic in nature.
Most people ditch novels 8-10, I don't. True, the magic that drives his writing got mired in too much detail, but one can't deny it still exists. That is because the man himself didn't understand where his writing talent came from. I think I do, but alas, it's too late to do anything about.
Thinking now, about the Wheel of Time, I realize it's the important moments that stay with me. The Golden Crane, my favourite scene ever. The Rhuidean journey through the pillars. Nynaeve healing stilling. Dumai Wells.
And, that is what is missing from the last three books. Those are all about fast pacing and story progression, but they lack in private moments and characterisation. There is no emotional impact when Rand cures his madness, no impact when he finally meets Moiraine. My biggest disappointment is Nynaeve healing madness. I'll not mention Mat, apart from this brief cameo. Basically, it's the little bits, the important bits, that suffer. I don't think Jordan envisioned the book(s) like this. I don't think he would have written all those battles in AMOL. I believe he would have let them happen off-screen, and would jump into important moments as they play out. And I believe we would have been given Tarmon Gai'don, and not the Last Battle, in the end.

Anonymous said...

This review is spot on. Very disappointing finish. I think the horrible characterization is the worst offense in AMOL. Characters we had followed since Eye of the World are given short shrift in too many cases. No way that Androl and Pevara should have shared the stage with the central characters. I felt zero emotional attachment to the characters or events in this book, and this is the most damning indictment of AMOL.

Bloody Nine said...

Overall I thought the book was about as good as it could be considering the author that wrote the bulk of the series didn't get to finish his tale.

Sanderson did an admirable job of tying up loose ends (though some felt pretty rushed considering the amount of time devoted to them over the course of the series).

Great depictions of an epic battle and some fantastic one on one battle scenes with Demandred.

The book definitely had flaws, but overall I'd give it 8/10

Anonymous said...

It took me five months to finish this book. Your review is spot on. Thank you for putting into words the feelings I have about this incredibly disappointing book.

Mel said...

I agree with every word of your review. The only reason I kept reading over the years was to get to the ending Robert Jordan had envisioned while writing the first book. What a colossal disappointment.

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

Anonymous said...

So... Robert Jordan told you there was a 'hook' in the last scene(s) and after two decades of reading the Wheel of Time series, you failed to comprehend perhaps the greatest 'hook' in sci/fi/fantasy literary history; priceless!
Sadly you are not alone.
I have to admit the 'hook' blew my mind and left me reeling, and made the Wheel of Time series beyond epic.
It sounds like Jordan's story failed you some how, but I say that you failed the story.
Never the less, yours is the funniest review of a Memory of Light.
Sincerely, Nathan Lancaster
fanaticmrfox@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Agree completely pat, characters were changed completely. The speech was almost robotic and la di da everyone lives even the dragon reborn, at least egwenes death was moving. The battle scenes were confusing and poorly set out. oh everything goes wrong for the side of the light right up until the end how terribly pathetic. yes some of RJs stuff was incredibly slow but for some reason it still worked for me, this is possibly the worst book ive ever read which is sad because up until now it was one of my favourite series, even the past two were fairly good. Brandon Sanderson i will never, ever read one of your books. I would rather read a newspaper!