Jordan, Robert, and Brandon Sanderson: (14) A Memory of Light

It’s Lunacon’s fault that I haven’t written up the last book in the Wheel of Time series, Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s A Memory of Light.

Well, no, it’s my own, but I couldn’t resist the exaggeration. I read the book when it came out, then I finished my re-read literally just in time for a panel at Lunacon last year discussing it . . . at which there was only one person in the audience, who hadn’t read it. But, regardless, I & the other panelists pretty thoroughly hashed out our thoughts back then, and it was hard to feel like I had anything else left to say about it after that, even though effectively no-one heard me say it.

At any rate. While I was upgrading the booklog, I started writing up some of my mental queue, which are both great reliefs of intangible-but-real burdens. So, what can I say about this book that makes sense outside of a spoiler cut?

I think it mostly stuck the landing. I have complaints about the distribution of deaths and some of the logistics, but on the whole it did feel like an effective and appropriate conclusion to what came before. However, the very end bothers me logistically and emotionally, not to “Harry Potter epilogue” or “Dark Tower coda” levels, but I don’t like it.

I don’t think I’ll re-read any bits of it the way I have the Egwene bits of The Gathering Storm or the Perrin bits of Towers of Midnight. There are memorable moments and scenes in this book, but nothing like the relatively self-contained and immensely satisfying arcs of those characters. That’s not a criticism—at this point, it makes sense that there wouldn’t be, it’s just a reader reaction. It’s kind of an overwhelming book and doesn’t lend itself to that kind of selective re-reading.

I think that Sanderson did an admirable job managing the completion of such an unwieldy project. Some of the things that I found unsatisfying were always going to be unsatisfying, given the way Jordan designed the series; at least one probably should’ve been concluded far earlier, because it really felt like part of the earlier conception of the series but Jordan didn’t know how to integrate it with what the series had become. And yes, I would have liked some of those deaths distributed differently and some of those characters to have been in different places at different times—even calibrating for fan expectations, I don’t think that would have been unreasonable, especially when I generally wanted more deaths! But I sniffled, and I stayed up way too late, and generally I’m glad that it was actually an ending.

(I’ve taken so long writing this up that in the interim the entire series was nominated for a Hugo in the Best Novel category. (I’m not going and tagging every book in the series as a Hugo nominee, however.) I don’t think that the entire series is a novel in any meaningful sense of the word, and even if it was, the saggy late-middle and the worst of the gender stuff would keep it from getting my top vote. As I write this I’m honestly leaning toward putting it under No Award, just because it’s so very much not a novel, but I’m still pondering.)

A minimal spoiler post follows.

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