January 14, 2013

Review: "A Memory of Light" By Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

As I turned the last pages of A Memory of Light so many things were racing through my mind.  First, it struck me that this is the end of an era, as I have been religiously reading and rereading this series for over 20 years (23 to be precise!).  Second, this is absolutely one of the best fantasy series I have ever read, and I am profoundly and utterly amazed and astonished at the quality of the writing, and complexity of the plotting and characterization from the first volume to this, the fourteenth volume, A Memory of Light.  Finally, I don't know that I have ever read one single book that has run me through the emotional 'ringer' the way that A Memory of Light has; and like Life, there are moments of great joy and happiness as well as deep sadness and grief.  I cannot begin to tell you how many times while reading this book I simply stopped reading and quietly wept for a few moments.  It was, all in all, a simply glorious reading experience! 

I am not going to give one word away about how A Memory of Light wraps up this grand journey that all of us have been on for nearly two decades.  Suffice it to say that A Memory of Light is nearly 1,000 pages of near perfection, and we should all stand up and bellow at the top of our lungs, Tai'shar Jordan! Tai'shar Sanderson!, as they have given us a grand story and an ending for the ages.  Obviously, much of A Memory of Light revolves around 'Tarmon Gai'don' (The Last Battle), and the battle scenes are riveting and make the book incredibly difficult to put down.

As any devoted 'Wheel of Time' fan, I went into A Memory of Light with just a tiny bit of trepidation.  After all, this series has finally come to an end, and how it ended was very important to me.  Now that I've finished my first reading of A Memory of Light, I have to say that I really don't know what I was worried about.  Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson have crafted a finale that is emotionally powerful and so intellectually satisfying that it very nearly belies words.  Oh, I'm sure that there will be those that will want to change this or that, but not me.  I really do think that the series has ended just as it should, and I honestly don't think I'd change a thing.  I can't wait to reread A Memory of Light again soon, as I'm sure that upon a more careful second reading it will become an even more meaningful experience for me.

For something over twenty years this series has been a meaningful part of my literary life.  At first it was really just great fun--a wonderfully complex and complicated bit of fantasy fiction to enjoy as each installment came out.  Now, however, I am beginning to realize that just as Tolkien was inspired through his fiction and poetry to work on developing a mythology for the English peoples, I think Robert Jordan challenged himself to craft a mythology for an American time.  Nation-building, economic and environmental pressures, political machinations, faith and belief systems, cultural diversity, it is all there.  Mostly the 'Wheel of Time' is the story of men and women and the human condition and the choices we make.  Seriously folks, this series is right up there, in my humble opinion, with Steven Erikson's "The Malazan Book of the Fallen", George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire", and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings"--it really is that good!
There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time.

But it was an ending.
A Memory of Light
By Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Tor Books, Hardcover, 2013
909 pp.
ISBN 0765325950


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