Monday, March 6, 2017

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, #14)A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a momentous day. I started re-reading this series over a year ago, and started my original reading of the series 20 years ago. And today I finally finished the final book. As you can imagine, I have a lot to say so I'll try to stick to key points, but I wont be able to avoid spoilers, so you are hereby warned.

The wrap up: It felt like it took forever, and at the same time it went too fast. And it is hard to put my finger on why. I think that the battle scenes were not connected to the actual last battle well (Rand's fight), so it felt like over half the book was spent on things that didn't really matter. As often happens with epic fantasies, the real struggle at the end is metaphysical, and is hard to follow. I was with Sanderson until the very end where Rand and Moridin commence their fight. If Callandor was really a trap, why didn't Rand just pretend to drop it at the beginning of the fight? Was the encounter with the darkness and the inner struggle with the Dark One really an accident for Rand?

Characters: A lot of characters were killed off, and at first I was put off by that, but in the end I was mostly ok with the sacrifices, although the Amyrlin's story line was not wrapped up for me. Couldn't Egwene and Gawyn have at least some happiness in their relationship? Siuan and Gareth Bryne, well it's sad, but I can accept it. I think I would have preferred Galad to not have made it. He was an annoying character most of the time, so it seems unfair. In fact, we hear nothing about the Children of the Light at the end, and I hope they got wiped out. I know that sounds cold, but they were a hypocrisy the entire series.

Biggest pet peeve: the Seanchan. I said in a previous review that if the culture of damane was not resolved it would be a huge detractor from the whole series for me. I'm standing by that. I don't care that they were used to win the last battle, or that they were a fitting punishment for Forsaken. In the end, this book condones human slavery, and that is not ok. Aside from that point as a moral position, there is the issue of Tuon as a character. Where was her growth? I expected some kind of awakening where she becomes enlightened and incorporates the best of what she sees on this continent into her empire, resolving the dark side of the Seanchan plot line. And what about the part where she can learn to channel? The issue of whether or not she chooses to doesn't hold water, because that same argument could be used for damane as well. Why treat them like murderers when they haven't made that choice yet? Anyway, the final status of the Seanchan is a straight up disappointment for me in this series.

The Black Tower: The ending of this one just seemed odd. Logain was starting to look like the first of a new batch of Forsaken, and his turnaround was hasty and not convincing. It was one of those times I wondered why a character survived (other than Min's vision for him that was in a previous book and couldn't be retracted.)

Brandon Sanderson straight up saved Matrim Cauthon. He was a weak, whiny character with a chip on his shoulder, and very flat at the same time. His voice was lost in the previous books. Sanderson brought him back with some flair and a voice that added comic relief as well as color to the story line. Mat and Perrin both grew the most as characters through the series, but Mat--if he were a real person--would owe it all to Mr. Sanderson.

Olver and the Horn of Valere was a nice twist, but I never got a confirmation one way or the other on my hunch that Olver was really Birgitte's Gaidal. Did I miss that somewhere, or am I really out in left field on that one? And speaking of Birgitte, the foreshadowing is strong that she will be Elayne's daughter, right? Anyone with me on those thoughts? I could have been given an answer to both of those questions in a sentence or two that made it obvious. #disappointed

So what now? While I enjoyed the overall push through the series, it really has slowed me down. I hope to make it through some quicker reads and then go back to a few series that I haven't read in years, most notably the Shannara series by Terry Brooks and the Sparhawk series by David Eddings. Maybe by then Sanderson will be far enough along with the Stormlight Archives that I'll start it, but I really dislike starting a series that isn't finished, as evidenced by the multiple attempts at the Wheel of Time.

Overall, I really liked this one, but I can't quite put it in the 5 star category. This book had to deal with so much baggage that I think it was about as awesome as it could have been, but 5 stars is a hard bar to reach. I am just happy to have it over with, and have good feelings about the whole series. It is like when you have been gone on a long vacation, and although you had fun and made treasured memories, you are glad to be home and back to normal life.