For whatever reason, I’m going even further afield than usual with my ‘review’ of A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (my ‘non-spoiler’ review, Indiebound, Book Depository, Amazon). This post (below the cut) is basically a point-by-point reaction to some of the events of AMOL. It’s full of spoilers and if you read them, it will tell you how the book ends and many of the happenings along the way. It’s very colloquial and informal, so comment in kind. Beware, the book is spoiled here and I’ll make no apologies to anyone who gets upset reading this post and whatever discussion follows because some spoiler is revealed. So, take a look and then share what you think. If you prefer, my non-spoiler review is here.
- As I’ve watched the reactions to the ‘Memories of Time’ released by Tor, I’ve had my own little version of how Team Jordan must experience the world. Yes, sometimes the reactions are spot on. But more often than not, they go way wrong. Crazy. It’s amazing to see how things go when I’m thinking the answer was so clearly obvious, but then people take it opposite direction.
- Talmanes in the prologue is awesome. Many have issues with what Sanderson has done with The Wheel of Time since taking on the near-impossible task of finishing the series in a way that fans can love, and some of those issues are very real, but sometimes Sanderson has improved things. Talmanes is one area. He takes a character who was cardboard and barely worth mentioning and grows him into someone likeable, humorous, subtle and heroic. It was fun reading his leading the battle of Caemlyn. Though he should have died. He should not have been healed to fight again. And I tire of the new titles that seemingly come out of nowhere – Dreadbane. Seriously, that’s terrible.
- Androl – I like him and Pevara more and more. Obviously Sanderson does as well. I wonder how much of Androl is a reaction to reading what fans have written. The potential tactical use of gateways – we see it. Opening a gateway into a volcano to destroy trollocs, opening a gateway in front of an attacker to behind the attacker so they kill themselves. Precise use of gateways as weapons. These are cool. I wanted more. But he was ultimately mishandled. He just sort of fades away in the Last Battle. He either should have gone out with a real bang…or something. By the end he just sort of hangs on.
- Moiraine. So, he needed her to convince Egwene to sign the Dragon’s Peace. And then again as a link with callandor. She still felt strangely absent toward the end. And why didn’t we get a Moiraine vs. Cadsuane scene.
- Demandred. I love that he wasn’t Roedran like so many thought. I loathed the lack of subtly with which Sanderson handled it. Too much of a nod to theorists, too much of a breaking of the 4th wall. But Shara? The set up for that could have been handled much better. Perhaps another example of Jordan being too subtle in earlier books. Perhaps an attempt for readers to be as surprised as those fighting the battles. While I like that it gave the forces of the dark an edge, it was ultimately mishandled.
- More Demandred. He plays the big role in The Last Battle. But I’d have liked to know more earlier. What we see earlier was either wrong or painfully incomplete. Who knew that Demandred was bat-shit insane? As insane as Rand in his own way. He was always supposed to be the cold, calculating bad guy. Another place things didn’t go as well as they should have.
- Mat. Everyone’s favorite. This won’t change. His leading of the last battle was awesome! I like how all the great captains were taken out, how the forces of the dark manipulated them. I like how it took some doing to get Mat into the leadership place he was. Only Mat could have won the battle.
- Really, Mat and Rand in a bragging battle? As amusing as it was, it didn’t work for me. Another too big of a nod to the fans.
- Horn of Valere. Excellent – most everyone thought Mat needed to blow it. Everyone was wrong. His ties were broken. Olver has a place. I love that Noal was a hero. That Birgitte comes back just after her death. Hawkwing and Matt don’t get along. Good stuff. Hero wolves? Oh well, don’t feel strongly one way or another.
- Lanfear – I love that she helps Perrin. I love that she’s a wildcard. We don’t know what’s going on with her…until the very end.
- Perrin. Good fighting, continues his growth. Awesome to see him finally let go. But really…he couldn’t kill Graendal because she’s a woman. Please. I thought we were past this. This must have been an RJ plot piece, one that should have been fixed. Though I suppose you had to have some good forsaken fighting going on.
- Fain. Thank god he didn’t end up as the Gollum of WOT. I love that every theory I ever read on his place in the Last Battle was wrong. I actually love that all of the build-up, all of the hints of bad things, go nowhere. That Mat walks right into the mist, and kills him. Easy as pie. How wrong we all were, but so obvious in retrospect. The series needed a nice little Red Herring and Fain served well. Now, was Mat’s luck tied to the evil of Fain? The dice stopped.
- Along those lines – it’s all over. Our three ta’veren are probably not ta’veren anymore. Does Mat still have is luck? What about everyone always falling in line with Perrin? Of course we have no answers, but it’s something to think about.
- So many hate Egwene, even more so since Sanderson has taken the helm. While I can’t say that I always like her, I don’t agree with the hatred. The accusations of Mary Sue. Etc. She dies, she dies as she creates. The Amyrlin dies as she kills the M’hael. Nice balance.
- Cadsuane. I would have like to see more of her during the Last Battle. A good fight scene or two during the battle. Opportunity lost with all those wonderful toys. I did not expect her to survive. Neither did she. Amyrlin? I laughed.
- Logain. Not the lovable leader many have made him out to be. Of course he was very nearly turned and there were consequences. But, is it a surprise that he did the right thing in the end? Cadsuane and Logain, White Tower and Black Tower. I think I’d like to see that.
- Thank the lord that Nynaeve didn’t heal death. I was very surprised that she never got time with Lan prior to the end. That was proof enough for me that Lan wouldn’t die. Though him killing Demandred…man, Niagara Falls baby. When he stood up with Demandred’s head I thought for sure he was a hero of the horn returned. He was always one I expected to die, but thought would live (if that makes any sense).
- Siuan dead. Expected. Actually not too saddened as it was appropriate. But I would have liked to have seen a POV from Bryne at that moment. I would have liked that decent into madness and death charge. Really, it could have been done in half a page – why not?
- Gawyn dead, Galad almost dead. Well, Gawyn should have died a long time ago. Not sad about it. He was incredibly stupid and flawed all the way to the end. Galad – I don’t think I’m upset we never got the Rand-Galad reunion. But I sort of wish he had died as well. For a minute I was waiting for a Tam takes on Demandred moment, where Tam succeeds. It would have been a nice thematic arc to the book and appropriate end to Demandred and Tam. But Lan did fine.
- Ituralde. I always like that guy. In my mind, clearly the best of the great captains. I wish we would have had more of him. I would have loved to see him and Matt in command together. I’m glad he lived though.
- So, two forsaken survive. Graendal and Moghedien. What will Avi do with a forsaken lapdog. What with Seanchan do with a forsaken and damane – and one from Shara as well? Oh, those outrigger novels would have been so much fun.
- So, just who is this old Aiel woman who has appeared twice now? She visited Aviendha in the waste and now Rand just after he seals up the DO. It appears that TAR is involved, but that’s not necessarily the case. Is this the creator?
- Oh the ending. First, the last word was not ‘time’, but ‘ending’. I can see how that scene began it all, though it’s certainly an odd one if you step back from WOT. The hero of the world steals a horse and runs away from his 3 wives and all the other forces of good. Oh, and he has a new body – that of the bad guy. That actually sounds pretty terrible when put that way. But, it fits. It’s beautifully written and I was bawling. In retrospect I can’t help but hear the Randland stories of Elvis/Jesus/Mary/Jim Morrison/Johnny Appleseed being spotted around the world. Or, maybe he’s Tom Bombadil, traveling the world in song and making the green things greener and everyone happy and gay. That’s it, Rand was always Tom Bombadil. Yes, my sense of humor is terrible.
- Now that I’ve read it all and finally know how it turns out. I’m incredibly torn. I want more. I want the prequels. I want those auxiliary novels with Mat and Tuon returning to Seanchan. I want more short stories and novellas. I want to read more. I don’t want it to be over. But, the end was perfect and appropriate. As much as I want all those things, I want all of The Wheel of Time to end as it did.
EDIT: Thanks to the folks over at Macmillan Audio I have an audio sample from Chapter 3 to share with (no big spoilers). I love the audiobooks and have been using them as 're-reads' for years, so give it a shot.
Great review Neth. I agree with a great many things. Have to say I really struggled up until aroun page 400 or so. From there things got better quickly. Had a ton of trouble immersing myself and so much of the dialog was wooden. Literally zero distinction between characters at times. Also had problems with the 4th wall being broken. Regardless loved the actio and the end. Fitting for sure.
Very nice, Ken.
I regret the lack of mention of Verin (even via her letters) or Kari al'Thor.
Also Didn't think that Moiraine's role was worth letting Caemlyn burn and Verin die.
BTW, put me down as one who asked if Mat was still bound to the horn. Didn't ask myself who else would blow it though.
@Suttree - I didn't have a problem getting into the book, but then even a WOT book by Sanderson has never had issues with keeping me immersed.
@Linda - I also really regret that nothing further came of Verin and all that she revealed. As Dom has discussed in detail, Mat's actions were not so great and his stubborn pride caused a lot of harm that should have been avoided - not to mention that Mat is character that Sanderson has always had trouble with.
While I left my theorizing behind long ago, I do recall many discussions on Mat no longer being bound to the horn. I was happy to see and happy to see Olver as the hornsounder. Also as Dom has discussed, the Horn of Valere was one of the best arcs of the AMOL, though it's overshadowed by the 'action' of the others.
I haven't read it yet... couldn't help myself just had to read the spoilers. No matter, it just made me more ravenous to read it. But I have to say I'm curious. How did you and apparently others get the book AND READ IT before the release date? Wish I was in that purple circle. P.S. Enjoyed the review.
@Matjess - Tor provided me a review copy about a month ago. A number of other bloggers and mediea outlets received early copies.
Actually, the last word is 'time':
THE END OF THE LAST BOOK OF THE WHEEL OF TIME.
It could also be argued to be 'Gone' from Loial's final quotation
My primary problem with the book is simple inconstistencies with what has gone before. Most notably, the fact that there is absolutely nowhere near as many troops on the page as the Light should be able to raise, and definitely nowhere near enough channellers. The Light only has a few hundred at the battles when they should command thousands.
Somethat was really weird was someone saying that a few dozen Asha'man cannot defeat 100,000 Trollocs alone. Yet they did in KoD. I can only conclude this was directive from Team Jordan that Sanderson objected to, otherwise lampshading it like that was a silly idea.
I thank you for the on target review, Ken. On the whole, my quibbles parallel your own. Why on EARTH do you take a character like Moiraine, who after all, -with Siuan- instigated this whole thing. Make her central to it, then (ostensibly) kill her off. Only to discover that she ISN'T dead and let that hang over everything for what, 8, 9 books? And then give her virtually nothing to do, once she re-appears?
The armies of The Light math, was Brobdingnagianly wrong! Did no one have a bloody calculator? Not to mention, just how DO you feed an army of over 1 million Trollocs for however long they just chilled, whereEVER they were chilling?
And Shara as Demandred's power base, well it blew. It was deux ex machina of the worst kind. And yeah, the dude gave Batshit crazy a bad name.
The other grimace worthy moment was Mellor appearing in the middle of the LB to off Birgitte and threaten Queen Snot/Snit. I understand, THAT'S why he got away w/the medallion but crikey it felt contrived as all hell. Since when did Demmie become the world's greatest blademaster?
Anyway, yeah, all over, all done.
Linda, there was a very brief mention of Kari al'Thor. It was in one of Tam's POVs near the end, where he thinks of having to live all those years without Kari. I actually thought it was perfect. Enough to show how important she was to him, how ever-present in his mind, yet also long ago and life moving on. Dunno. I liked that piece.
"I want more"
No truer words were spoken. And why do you want more? Because THERE ARE TOO MANY LOOSE ENDS! I could fill two pages with things that were left unresolved. "But it's a huge universe," you might say. "How can you possibly resolve everything?"
IT'S A 900+ PAGE BOOK! AND THE SAME THING PEOPLE ARE SAYING OVER AND OVER AGAIN IS, "I WANT MORE." ... Not a very ringing endorsement.
I want to love the book. I want to love the great moments that are throughout. But it's hard to love something when it's laced with negatives. At best, that makes this mediocre.
A generation-defining series such as The Wheel of Time deserves a better send-off. Team Jordan and Team Tor had the time and the resources to make it happen, and they came up short. As gifted as a writer as Sanderson is, I feel somewhat that he didn't fully commit to this project. He had other books of his own that he just had to get out. I don't know the particulars behind the scenes, but I'm left wondering if perhaps some of those unanswered questions might have been addressed if he'd given his full, undivided attention to it.
I thought the book was ok. I would give it 7 out of 10. What i would have liked to see more of was the aes sedai. We were told all of these names throughout the series, i thought we could have more details of their deaths.
More characters should have died. I am glad eg an gw did. I was surprised that major charcters could actually be killed off. It was something like a bad joke in the series- the number of times the good guys were kidnapped but not killed was ridiculous.
As for shara- well, there were more and more mentions of shara in the last five books. It was a great surprise to the readers. Many more ridiculous things have happened before.
My maincriticism, well too many gateways, it made the battle so hard to picture. I would have loved to have seen the dome put over the main fight.
I agree that there are too many loose ends...mainly, Rand wonders to himself which of his women will follow him. How exactly are the Queen of Andor, the Truthsayer of the Seanchan Empire, and a leading wise one of the Aiel going to just leave and hang out with some guy? So for the rest of their lives they're going to feel him somewhere in the world and NOT go to him? I don't get it.
Now that we know the story maybe someone can re-write the books into 5 or six volumes!
Candidates for elimination or truncation:
1. Savanna and Shaido. Total waste of time, no impact and annoying. When did Faile and Perrin get payback?
2. Eliada. Same. All the annoying angr moments building up to nothing. Would like to see her and Egwene go a round or two
3. Knitting circle. Hello, we supposedly had a thousand channel ears in waiting. Where did they go?
4. Dresses. Who cares what color or how low?
5. Slayer. Cut him from 600 pages down to 20.
6. Valan Luca
Ok I think I just cut out 6 effective novels worth of frustration and wasted reader time.
I believe it's called editing, but this weave was not discovered in the third age
How can Rand leave his dad like that at the end?
Incongruent character. Tam ought to slap his ass!
Why didn't the aes Sendai and aashamen form a full circle too?
Where did a million trollocs come from?
How many men can a 9 foot, 500 pound trolloc slay?
Why fight parallel battles when you will lose all three? Should have massed the channellers together and focused on killing the enemy channellers . Maybe the authors could have consulted a real general before attempting to write a huge campaign
Am I the only one who thinks Sanderson over use the word "tempest"?
Been annoying me ever since he took over.
He's close to using "tempest" like the Smurfs are using "smurf" (slight exaggeration ;-)
Let me start with that I love the way the series ended. I started to read it several years ago at the age of around 30, but that gave me the opportunity to read without waiting until the final 3 books. Now that it's over I really feel like this is the way it should end.
The only thing, but it's a big one, that really annoys me is the absolutely blunt, not-in-the-least-clever way the war was handled and especially the use of the one power in combat. Almost the whole book is battle scenes and yet they are all almost the same. Is it just me, that is utterly annoyed by it? I mean, come on, it's like having laser guns and using them as knives by a couple of villagers. I thought that we'll get some real clever, inventive L vs S power fights - the only exceptions were Androl and Egwene at her death. Most of the time there was constant bombardment with fire, earth and lightning, while it was shown how little effort it would take to stop one's heart. It was so obvious that this fight should go channelers against channelers and other part of the armies to fight on more equal ground. There were virtually no one-on-one battles between the most powerful channelers. No Wise Ones against the Forsaken in the World of Dreams? With so many powerful characters I was expecting far more such duels, while in reality we got around 5. How many Dreadlords were there, given that a bunch of beaten-down, not-so-powerful, not-very-well-trained guys drove them away from the Black Tower? What exactly was Mat's battle plan - waiting for Demandred's death? Why there was no use of the Blood Knives in this battle. Instead we got the rushing teenager Gawyn the only one that came with the thought of using such trick attempting to put the powerful leaders of the opposition down? And all this while having several attempts from Fades to do exactly that? I can continue with the list.
Personnally I was really sad by the deaths of Siuan and Bryne . I did not like Siuan at first but after a moment the character grew on me and I really liked to follow her romance with Bryne , I agree that we could have had a little point of view from Bryne .
Thinking about it , there were many romance and I think Jordan/Sanderson chose not to chose too much of love moments (sad not to see Nynaeve finding out Lan was alive , no point of view of Tuon if she was worried for Mat -he came back in the Seachan's empire just because of her- no Berelain & Galad after the battle etc , I'm actually a little sad about it)
I would have loved to have a little stuff such as : ten years later : Rand , what live will he have ? Elayne or Min ? How the nations will fare together ? The Seachans ?
I really liked Mat in it , such a badass !
It is so weird to know that there is will be no more Aes Sedai , channelers people , Dragon Reborn etc, that's the really really end . And a very good one , the three buddies survived and their love interets , too . Of the two girls , one died ...
snif snif , I'm wuite sad to leave everyone , I took so much pleasure reading The Wheel of Time for ten years ...
I chanced upon your review and I liked it. I generally agreed with everything you said. However, after reading AMoL a few times again I still don't understand: What was the Dark One's plan with the world? Conquest?
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