Book Review: 'A Memory of Light,' by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (2013, Tor Books)
The Last Battle is upon us!
After three years of preparation, the armies of the Light must steel themselves and face the Dark One's forces in a struggle that will determine the future of the world. In this, they may expect to receive no quarter- nor will quarter be granted- as an ocean of nightmarish trollocs and their myrddraal commanders invade the free nations of the earth, in an attempt to usher in an age of darkness.
Vastly outnumbered, starving, and fighting an enemy who has the power to corrupt the very fabric of reality, mankind must look to a flawed hero to unite them, and to lead them- somehow- to victory...
And him they named Dragon.
A Memory of Light marks the fourteenth, and final, installment of Robert Jordan's epic The Wheel of Time series,1 concluding the exquisite tale which began over twenty years ago in The Eye of the World (1990, Tor Books).2 As with the previous two entries in the series, Light was co-written by Brandon Sanderson, Hugo Award3 nominated author of The Mistborn Trilogy (2009, Tor Books),4 and published posthumously after Jordan's death.
If there were any holdouts left among die-hard fans of the series, who feared that Sanderson might not be able to weave the myriad, complex threads of this vast universe into a complete tapestry- despite his stellar work to date- they may rest at ease. Not only does the heir apparent manage to resolve the key elements of The Wheel of Time's multi-faceted story line, he does so with eloquence, demonstrating an understanding of the world, and of the defining nuances of it's characters, that will lead the initiated to wonder if he is somehow channeling Jordan himself from beyond the grave.
Those who fear that the ending for the series had been lost, will be relieved to learn that Mr. Jordan left copious notes, in-depth diagrams, and detailed instructions numbering in the thousands of pages for his successor. In fact, the entire epilogue of Light, which had been written by Jordan previously, was ultimately included in the book verbatim.5
All of the attention to detail, descriptive imagery, and engaging character interactions that fans have come to expect from a The Wheel of Time book are present in Light, and Jordan's uncanny ability to paint dynamic battlefields infused with a life of their own has survived into this final, worthy installment. Readers will feel as though they have been transported into the heart of combat, sharing in the exultation of victory, the devastation of defeat, and every emotion in between. The epic does not shy from the horror of war, and graphic descriptions of close fighting abound, conveying a desperate urgency with every swing of the sword, every arrow loosed, and every drop of blood spilled. Contrarily, equal attention is given to those assuming the burden of command, who rarely engage in direct fighting, and yet find themselves in a battle of wits with their enemy, a war of wills in which every decision they make decides life for some, and death for others.
While Light successfully closes the book on Jordan's The Wheel of Time saga, bringing long awaited closure to fans, it is not recommended for those who are unfamiliar with the series. Newcomers will quickly become discouraged as they find themselves bogged down by unfamiliar names, concepts, and events. The book is written, unapologetically, in the spirit of total immersion. However, for those who have persevered through the lengthy canon of: Nine thousand pages, in thirteen prior installments, over a publishing history spanning twenty-three years- the rewards are rich and satisfying.
Earl's Bottom Line:
A Memory of Light not only marks the end of a series of epic fantasy books, but the end of an era. In 1990, Robert Jordan was heralded as the next J.R.R. Tolkien, and all of the expectation that comes with such high praise was heaped upon him. In the years to come, following the release of each The Wheel of Time installment, new proponents were born, offering a litany of similar accolades, while still others faded away, discouraged by the sheer volume of Mr. Jordan's epic. Finally, over a score later, the saga draws to a close, and readers must say goodbye to characters who, for many, have become like old friends. Still, as Mr. Jordan would admonish, "There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of The Wheel of Time..."
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- Wikipedia contributors. The Wheel of Time [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2013 Sep 18, 23:58 UTC [cited 2013 Sep 26]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Wheel_of_Time&oldid=573572877.
- Wikipedia contributors. The Eye of the World [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2013 Apr 29, 22:20 UTC [cited 2013 Sep 26]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=The_Eye_of_the_World&oldid=552796963.
- Wikipedia contributors. Hugo Award [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2013 Aug 19, 06:03 UTC [cited 2013 Sep 26]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Hugo_Award&oldid=569179773.
- Wikipedia contributors. Mistborn series [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2013 Sep 10, 22:52 UTC [cited 2013 Sep 26]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mistborn_series&oldid=572412233.
- Wilcox, B. Completing a world left unfinished [Internet]. [Los Angeles, Cal]: Los Angeles Times; 2008 Dec 3, [cited 2013 Jun 1]. Available from: http://articles.latimes.com/2008/dec/03/entertainment/et-wheel3
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© 2013 Earl Noah Bernsby