Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Wheel of Time: A Memory of Light

Over two decades in the making, The Wheel of Time finally sees its end. A book series so long that the original author died before completing it. So long that the cover artist too passed away before finishing the final piece. But finally, it ends.

And the ending is good. A Memory of Light is a happy and, in my opinion, also a satisfying conclusion to the series. It is hardly surprising, though. But I don't think one simply writes a 14-book series, which is essentially about the fight of good versus evil, and makes it end in a twist.

Some felt the epilogue -- written by Robert Jordan aka James Oliver Rigney, Jr.  himself before his death -- wasn't long enough; not giving enough information what will happen in the future. The ending was also deemed odd by some in how few of the characters behaved. But I found everything quite reasonable. How much can one write of an ending anyway. It needs to stop somewhere. And I think the epilogue did it all rather well.

Also, very much to my liking, I did call the final words. Not word for word -- there were some differences -- but the last sentence was there exactly like I would've put it: "But it was an ending." Though I guess it wasn't really that hard to guess. Made me smile nonetheless.

The majority of the novel consists of fighting huge battles. And if you don't like it, I honestly don't know what you were expecting. That is where the story had been going since the very beginning; to Tarmon Gai'don, The Last Battle. The fighting was entertaining, really. It wasn't one-sided and dull, like the Shadow constantly pressing forward and the Light side then suddenly pulling a miracle victory against all odds.

No, things were going bad and then good, and then turning dark again. Things were kept interesting. Of course the good guys won in the end. And I guess it took some heroic efforts. Few brave and stupid one-on-one challenges in the middle of the battlefield.

One might find it confusing how the battles are told through many characters. But I wouldn't think very highly of such a person. The viewpoint cycling was nothing compared to what Ed Greenwood pulls off in his books. And it's not like the minor characters were not introduced and never present in the previous installations. Overall I found the storytelling smooth. I think Brandon Sanderson succeeded in his job to bring the series to its end.

However, when halfway through the novel, the Sharans suddenly arrived to fight on the side of the Shadow, I thought:"No way. You did not just introduce a whole new freaking nation to the series in the middle of the last volume." And then their leader even started blabbering about being the Sharan equivalent of the Dragon Reborn.

He was quickly recognized as Demandred, however, and the whole thing started making more sense. It had been known he had an army ready for the battle. Shara was never visited in the series, though, only mentioned here and there, so their appearance definitely was a surprise. At least for me.

The issue with the Black Tower was obviously solved in the book, it had to be. And quite nicely it was, I might add. The Seanchan on the other hand... well, I guess one could say it ended well. We didn't get to see an end to their cruel ways of treating channeling women and servants. But there was a hinted promise that there might be changes coming to their society.

Before reading the book, I was worried how Rand's fight against the Dark One would turn out. I was afraid it would be something silly. But it was alright, although rather short. Rand actually initiates the battle quite early in the novel. And it's only visited every now and then until the finale. The book gives an explanation to this, though: time passes slower for those in Shayol Ghul than for those elsewhere.

The Wheel of Time definitely is a long story, no doubt about that. But I think it is also a good read, even if it has less exciting parts here and there. The world and its magic truly are quite something.

A movie or a few might be coming. At least the rights have been acquired by Universal Studios. If anything ever comes out, though, there's no way it will make justice to the books. I think I'm more interested about the game (or few) Red Eagle Games plan to be making at some point.

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