The fourteenth and final in the Wheel of Time saga
review by Lenise Prater
I started reading the series in 1994 and, whatever else I might say about this last book, the closure was very satisfying. I did have low expectations when I began reading, thinking that it was always going to be difficult to finish a series of the length and complexity of The Wheel of Time. Brandon Sanderson bravely volunteered to take this on after Jordan’s death and I think he has done a pretty good job under difficult circumstances. Overall, where I found some scenes jarring in Sanderson’s other additions to The Wheel of Time, these were largely missing from A Memory of Light. Either Jordan left much more detailed notes for this one, or Sanderson hit his stride (or both).
A Memory of Light takes up with the Shadow in a more difficult situation than we have yet seen – only four of the Forsaken remain and The White Tower is unified and the Black Ajah has been expunged from its ranks. However, the Seanchan have refused to join with Rand and the Black Tower is in disarray, still in the process of being turned to the Shadow by the darkfriend Mazrim Taim. The last book details Rand al’Thor’s final attempt to unify disparate nations to fight together in the Last Battle – there are tensions still to resolve as the White Tower and Rand do not agree on how to approach the Last Battle. Getting the Seanchan on side is difficult, and the problems faced by the Black Tower seem insurmountable. Will they all become Dreadlords and fight against the forces for the Light in the Last Battle, or will the men who follow the Light overthrow Taim? The answer to this question comes surprisingly late in the piece.
A particular highlight of this book was Perrin’s struggle against Slayer/Luc – both characters manipulate the World of Dreams in creative ways that really gives their fight a sense of unpredictability. I couldn’t put the book down in these sections! Another particularly positive aspect was how Sanderson downplayed the concept that men and women are so different they might as well be a different species, something Jordan’s work is well-known for. Galad even goes on a short rant about how all genders are equal and capable of fighting under the Light. Jordan began writing this series in 1984 with the first book published in 1990 – the climate then was somewhat different. I think Sanderson’s minor adjustments in this last book serve more to update the series than detract from the vibe established by Jordan’s earlier work.
I do want to give a warning for readers who don’t enjoy battle scenes though – a significant portion of A Memory of Light is devoted to clever (and not-so-clever) troop movements. This is unsurprising in a book devoted to the Last Battle, but it did become somewhat repetitive and might be less enjoyable for those who read the Jordan series for its political intrigues.
In this last book many questions are answered – we find out, for example, why Rand’s very presence reverses the food spoiling brought on by the Dark One’s touch on the world, and how Moiraine Sedai’s role in the last battle is essential as prophesied. We finally meet people from the fabled Shara, a distant culture that has only been hinted at in the rest of the series. We also find out what happens with the Aiel men who can channel – the twist about what happened to these men was pure Jordan.
Some of these resolutions were not entirely convincing, though –it seems to me that Moiraine’s main contribution to the Last Battle was arrive dramatically at a meeting between world leaders just when negotiations had broken down, she settles them all down by quoting prophecies everyone already knew.
Ultimately, this is the best of Sanderson’s contributions to the series, and it does a good job of resolving the key plot lines. As a longtime fan I am happy that Sanderson has finished this up for us; it’s just so great knowing what happens in the end.
A Memory of Light Audio
A Memory of Light is also available in audio format from MacMillan Audio. MacMillan says:
…the book is also available as an audiobook from Macmillan Audio, read by the very talented Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, who have voiced the entire series.
Below is an excerpt from the audio book.