A Memory of Light | Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

When I started reading The Wheel of Time, the Internet didn’t exist. I used my telephone modem to connect to a local BBS for ASCII art and other meaningless diversions. You might wonder at the foolishness of starting an unfinished epic. In my defense, the book was four volumes long at that point and I was told it would last a total of six. Now I’m writing my review of volume fourteen: the final chapter.

A quick scan of the Amazon’s review stats isn’t surprising. 712 people gave this book 5 stars while 333 gave it only 1. A mere 232 people are somewhere in the middle. I suppose these sort of polarizing results should be expected when you close a series that many of us have been reading for well over half of our lives. As much as you anticipate it, it’s difficult to read the end.

The conclusion is completely satisfying. After hearing about “The Final Battle” for 13 books, we get a 200 page chapter in a 900 page book dedicated to it! Sanderson pulls plot lines together quick enough to make your head spin here. He even gives what I had assumed were throw-away chapters in earlier books meaningful life in the end.

My only criticism was the completeness of it all. Unlike real life, where things are messy and incomplete, the Wheel’s third age ends with no threads out of place. This is a strength for those of us who like to see how everything concludes (like the series finale of Fringe), but a weakness for those who enjoy the mystery of it all (like the series finale of Lost).

Over the 21 years I’ve been reading this series, my life has changed a lot. My taste has developed. I enjoy reading thoughtful fiction now along with a bevy of non-fiction and theology. Despite the changes in my life, it was wonderful to return again to the same sense of wonder I had when I started this series—if only for 900 final pages. I only wish Jordan was alive to enjoy the end of his epic (and maybe to write those Outrigger novels he hinted at).

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