A Memory of Light: A Fitting End

Well, this is it. A Memory of Light. The final volume in the Wheel of Time series - the massive 14-book series that I found myself delving into 10 years ago during the holiday break from school.

I picked up my copy of the book a week ago when it dropped on local stores along with other members of Wheel of Time Phils. Like with the past two releases, it wasn't without incident with the big bookstores. I had reserved 20 copies with Fully Booked months ahead of the release date but was told their supply hasn't arrived yet. For a reader, nay, a fan who's been following the series for years, the delay was just unacceptable. Thankfully, one of our members tipped me that Powerbooks already has the book. A couple of phone calls later and I had secured my group's copies.


Crisis averted.

Wheel of Time Phils.
I plowed through the book for the next three days, even bringing my copy to the office and reading during breaks. But for Quiz Night Thursday, I had spent the next few evenings reading, forfeiting hours of sleep and even declining an invitation from a friend to hang on a Friday evening. All this just so I can finish the book by Saturday in time for our group's discussion.

A pity I didn't have time to blog about it immediately but here I am now.
So what did I think of A Memory of Light?


Maybe deliberately depriving myself of sleep while going through the more action-packed and emotionally charged third act of the book had more to do with it but I find that I can empathize with the characters better that way. The more exhausted I was, the more I found myself lamenting the fate of certain characters, though it was Bela's death that really made me jump. Egwene's sacrifice was shocking but she went in a blaze of glory, so that wasn't so bad.

Orbit Edition Cover
There were a number of notable deaths in the story (is this a trend for the final books in any series?) but there were hopeful moments as well. The sounding of the Horn of Valere is something that I was personally looking forward to and it was amazing how Olver released the heroes of the Horn! That the Horn also brought out glowing spirit wolves to battle the darkhounds was a plus!

My favorite scenes include Moirane's entrance into the meeting at Merrilor, giving everyone assembled the surprise of their lives, and Mat and Rand's exchange of one-upmanship! Another personal favorite, though not many will agree with me, is Faile's inner monologue about starting out as a Hunter of the Horn (something I have also forgotten) only for the Horn to fall into her hands.

I also loved seeing several minor characters return even for just one scene: Morgase, Teslyn, Laras, Elyas, Juilin, Raen and Ila, Alviarin, and Hurin! Some deceased characters like Aram, Verin, and Masema even get a passing mention along with living characters Valan Luca, Lini, and Thera who probably just didn't figure into the story. As if to remind us that they all played a part in the epic. I'd rather think it was for us fans to properly bid these characters goodbye.

In between these scenes of light are scenes of slaughter. It is war, after all. And this is why reading the book gets really exhausting: When it flies, it's really high but when it falls, it's really low. And because it is a book about war and Robert Jordan is a war historian, the book also gets into excruciating details when it comes to the battle scenes. Often times I find myself not bothering to visualize the battles and just skipping to the outcome. I would have rather those pages devoted to detailing battles be used for character moments like a meeting between Moiraine and Siuan, for example (a scene I was surprised to find absent from the book). Or how about foreshadowing Padan Fain/Mashadar instead of springing him up out of nowhere towards the conclusion? But that's just me.

Daryl K. Sweet's original cover before he passed away
As for that ultimate ending, I am a bit torn. On one hand, it does make sense for Rand to survive and live the rest of his life in peace, affirming everyone else who've been telling him not to relish his impending death. On the other hand, the body-switching was a bit corny though I admit I don't see any other way for him to survive otherwise.

AMoL Book Discussion/Support Group
All in all, though, A Memory of Light is a fitting conclusion as any. I still love it despite my own misgivings. I have to thank Brandon Sanderson for taking on the herculean task of helping draw this series to a close.
As for the series as a whole, I'm going to miss waiting for the next book, going through the speculations and theories, and coordinating with local bookstores to make sure members of our group get copies. I don't know if I'll ever be as committed to another fantasy book series as much as I was with The Wheel of Time. Heck, I only got as far as book six in the Sword of Truth series and I haven't even read Dance of Dragons yet.

I suppose there are still some things to look forward to. The encyclopedia is in the works, the comic adaptation is ongoing, and maybe a TV series or movies in the future.

But the saga has definitely come to a close. So farewell, old friend. Thanks for a decade of adventures.