There are no major spoilers in this review but you probably shouldn’t read it if you want to go into the book with an absolutely blank slate. For those on the other end of the spectrum, a spoiler-filled review is coming soon.
I know there are no endings to the Wheel of Time and this is merely an ending, but I still can’t believe the Wheel of Time is over.
This book is a perfect ending. The main theme of the Wheel of Time has always been balance between two opposing forces – saidin and saidar, Darkness and Light, good and evil. The resolution of the story carries that philosophy to its logical place – there’s no other way it could’ve ended.
Don’t go into this book expecting all your questions to be answered – some are, but a lot aren’t. It feels right, though – there are far bigger things going on.
Most of this book involves battles. Tarmon Gai’don is the Last Battle, and the stakes are truly desperate. The book does a great job of conveying the scale of this conflict, even though it’s exhausting to read about. Any less, and it would’ve been too easy to win. The usual “no one dies” approach that the rest of the books have does not apply. Some very bad things happen to very good people, and death seems better than some of them. Our heroes are outnumbered and outmaneuvered, and it shows. Even at the end, you’re not left feeling like it’s been a great victory – you’re horrified. There’s still hope, though, and that’s what matters.
Of course, it’s not all bleak – there are several moments where characters are really awesome, including some unexpected ones (Gaul, you are the man). There are some very touching moments between people (one of my favourite ones involves Annoura Sedai and Berelain). There’s even some humour – usually Mat or Talmanes are involved (although, one fan theory concerning Demandred gets a very unsubtle nod). Long-awaited prophecies are fulfilled in unexpected ways (Logain’s glory and Seanchan helping Egwene, I’m looking at you!) And there are still some cool plot twists.
The battles are not just about swords and spears and the One Power, there are several maneuvers by both sides that were absolutely brilliant. What seemed like throwaway incidents in the previous books come into play in a very clever way.
I liked that Perrin, Mat and Rand were fighting on different “fronts”, so to speak. Their special strengths were uniquely suited to what the forces of the Light needed, and brings their character arcs to a satisfying close. Most of the characters got a satisfying ending, not just the ta’veren, but my favourite was Birgitte’s.
We finally get to meet Demandred (I guessed right about where he was!), and he’s quite formidable. I’m used to the Forsaken being easily balefired/defeated by our heroes, but not Demandred. Some adversaries that I thought would have a much bigger role end up not being a huge threat, though.
I really couldn’t see how the multitudes of issues with the Seanchan would be tied up in time for Tarmon Gai’don, but it’s handled very neatly. A completely unexpected character ends up playing a pivotal role, and I hope that the Seanchan system of institutionalised slavery can end because of that character. The Black Tower plotline’s resolution was not quite so satisfactory, but it works pretty well.
I kind of wish there was more of an epilogue, but I think that’s just me being selfish and wanting to see the dawn of the Fourth Age. It’s probably a good thing there wasn’t one, judging by the Harry Potter epilogue.
It’s rare that I say this about a book that ends a much-loved series, but A Memory of Light
is everything I wished for and more! Thank you, Robert Jordan for creating this incredible world, and thank you, Brandon Sanderson for doing such an excellent job giving us a satisfying conclusion.
I’m giving away a copy of the audiobook version of the first book in the Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World – enter here.