I have loved these people and these books for 15 years. Last January, I started re-reading "The Eye of the World", and was surprised by how much it felt like visiting good friends I hadn't seen in years. Now, all these months later, having finished "A Memory of Light", I am left feeling satisfied, enriched and... oddly, refreshed. (Maybe from all that crying!)
"The Wheel of Time" is a long series, granted, and it involves a lot of varying storylines-- a handful of leading characters each have diverse experiences intertwined with each other and many, many other characters. "A Memory of Light" provides the perfect culmination of all those threads, weaving them together in elegant, beautiful harmony-- each playing their part and fulfilling their destinies.
There are lots of battle scenes, as expected, since it is the Last Battle. There are moments of hearth-thumping suspense, outright terror, humor, love, grief and joy. At times heartbreaking, touching and even spiritual, "A Memory of Light" brings the story to a close in an intelligent, fearless, authentic way.
I cried a lot as I read this and not all out of grieving for the slain-- some for glorious moments and sheer beauty. I'm not sad that it's over, as I expected to be. It's a giant of a book, ending a mammoth series, and it's time for me to move on to other reading. But it is bittersweet to look forward to something for so long, to agonize over Rand Al' Thor and his friends, to care so much and then... it's done. Wrapped up and finished.
I was nervous. I am frequently disappointed with endings-- movies, TV series ('Lost', anyone?) and books sometimes don't end feeling genuine-- they become too soft or melodramatic for their own good. I didn't want Jordan/Sanderson to wrap it up wrong-- I didn't want Rand to win too easily, or for too many people to survive. I hate death, but realistically-- not everyone would survive the Last Battle, would they? So I wanted it realistic, balancing tragedy with triumph, but not heartlessly so.
Somehow, the authors managed exactly that balance. Suffering and anguish are paired with courage and strength and, in spite of the massive breadth of the remaining story, it doesn't feel forced, rushed, squashed together or badly paced. What this series has, and what this book magnifies, is heart. The underlying story is love. Such are all good stories.
If you happened to give up on this series years ago, I highly suggest you take it up again, give it a chance. I've said before, Robert Jordan was a genius, and Brandon Sanderson is a magician! If you haven't ever read it, naturally, I recommend you do so. But start at the beginning. This is not a series to jump into in the middle.
And so, dabbing my eyes, catching my breath, I bid The Wheel of Time farewell. Until next time. And I thank Brandon Sanderson from my heart for such a rich, touching, beautiful final book in my favorite series.