Book Review: A Memory of Light (Spoiler-Free)

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like most of you, I’ve been reading The Wheel of Time for ages. It feels like the wheel has rolled around a few times at least since I first saw Eye of the World, sitting on my library’s shelf, looking so thick and inviting. I’ve been to midnight releases, read each installment as they came out. I was twelve when I first read the series, for crying out loud. I’ve reread the books multiple times as each new installment would come out.

I’m a fan.

And having been such a long-time fan of this series, reading the final book was a bittersweet experience. Having a personal friend of mine write it? Surreal. Not as surreal as I’m sure it was for Brandon himself, but still. Very strange.

This is all to say that when it comes to giving an independent, unbiased review of this book, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Then again, just because I’m friends with Brandon doesn’t mean I’d automatically like the ending. I’ve been a WoT fan much longer than I’ve been his friend, after all. If he screwed the ending up . . . . 🙂

I got the book on Saturday. I finished it on Sunday. 900+ pages. I had initially planned on enjoying this final read through for the first time of a WoT book, but I was sick, and 22 years was long enough. I wanted to know how it ended.

(This isn’t going to be a review with any spoilers, so you can read and not be worried.)

Brandon said that the Epilogue of the book is almost all Robert Jordan’s words. And so I look at Brandon’s job as a writer for these final three books, and I sum it up like this: he had to take the series from where Jordan stopped writing and connect it to that final epilogue, and do it in a manner that made it all feel right.

Mission: Accomplished.

I loved the final book. Was it my favorite of the series? Probably not. One of the things that appealed to me most about the series was the character interactions. The good characters helping each other and living their lives. And a lot of that has no place in this final book. It’s not called the Last Battle for nothing, folks. It’s non-stop action and intrigue. Plots within plots. And you have to see some of the characters you’ve really been attached to for so long . . . go through some very rough times.

People die. Significant people. Book One sort of people.

But that had to happen. It felt right. You don’t have the Last Battle go down and have all your friends live to see the end of it.

In the end, I finished the book, closed the cover, and stared at it for a moment, thinking. The series was over. I knew how it ended. How did it feel? Perfect. Did I know all the answers? No, but you never do. I knew what happened, and I had thoroughly enjoyed the ride.

So often, a big long epic can just fall apart in the final climax. There was a significant risk of this happening in WoT. I’m so relieved to say it doesn’t.

A few years from now–maybe when my son’s old enough to read these books–I’m going to reread the series one more time. From the beginning. Straight through. And I think a lot of the frustrations and impatience I had with the books will be washed away. Jordan had a destination. The series was far more EPIC than any of us had any idea of when we started Eye of the World. This is an Epic Fantasy taken to the next level, and it’s provided the genre with whole new fields for growth.

Judged by today’s standards, is it the Best Series Ever? I wouldn’t say so. It’s not a today series. It’s a series from the 90s. It’s THE series from the 90s, and it stays true to that right up to the end.

Fantastic series, fantastic book.

Thank you Brandon, and thank you Robert Jordan.

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