October 5, 2014

Book Review: "A Memory of Light" (Wheel of Time book 14) + Series

At long last, I have finished reading A Memory of Light, which marks the end of the Wheel of Time series.

This is it! The finale. And I must say, it took me a while to get here. I own the entire series (14 books) in paperback, and each book is over 650 pages in that format, most about 700-900 pages. Quite an immense reading project! 

This book, however is a good finale. It is at times over long (could have been closer to 800 pages instead of nearly 1200). Sometimes I did not agree with the characters chosen to be focused on. The Last Battle - why is it one chapter that's about 300 pages? Ridiculous! Divide the battle into phases and have other chapters. The Last Battle, while impressive, at times does not really convey the scope or immensity of both the good and the bad. Instead, it feels like several battles involves hundreds, maybe thousands, rather than a war involving millions. 

The showdown between Rand and the Dark One is not what one would expect. The outcome, or rather how the outcome is achieved is  definitely Wheel of Time, though. 

This finale reminds me more of Deathly Hallows, than say The Return of the King. The important questions are answered, but maybe not in the way you would expect. Plus, not everything is revealed. 

Whatever my qualms are for The Wheel of Time, I must say that this is a fitting way to end the series. Brandon Sanderson deserves an award for his involvement.

And so I give this final book


Now that I have read the last book, what of the series? 

The series starts out feeling very similar to The Fellowship of the Ring, and has echoes of The Lord of the Rings throughout. I have not read too many of the 'typical' / 'Tolkien'-clone fantasy series, it seems that The Wheel of Time is the best of those types. 

But it is not perfect. It is pretty good and enjoyable throughout, but now, in 2013 the series seems dated. Perhaps not when it started out. The series got too long, too big and has problems throughout. The middle books definitely sag, and Jordan could not write women very well. They seem like different moods of the same person or something.

There was also a lot that could have been cut or re-edited. Anything that does not affect Rand getting to the Dark One, or even Mat and Perrin should have trimmed down, cut out, or gone mostly to the background. There are other characters but these are the main three.

The biggest problem, aside from from less than stellar writing at times, and the females, is that the series never gets to the point, or takes a while getting there. Not to compare against other series, but A Song of Ice and Fire got big because George chose to focus on various aspects of the struggle. Also, his series is larger in scope. With The Wheel of Time, they set out to do something and go somewhere, and it takes a long time for that to happen. When you read The Eye of the World, it does not seem like that the series can last for 14 books or cover that much ground. The series could have easily, or should have been, about 6-10 books long with a much tighter narrative focus, and plot that does not branch off so much.

 I am quite sure that when the first book came out, it was quite good. In the years since, other and better books have come along. It is really around book 3 or 4 that the story changes (which it should not have) from the 'adventure' presented in the first two books, to something different.

The Wheel of Time is an interesting story, and has a good premise, but perhaps 'novel' was not the best way to convey that story. A series of video games? Original movies? Perhaps on TV? Anime? Graphic novel? Also, it is hard to recommend now, with so many other fantasy greats out there: George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire. Patrick Rothfuss' Kingkiller Chronicle. Daniel Abraham's Dagger and Coin. Steven Erikson's Malazan.  

So I give the entire series as a whole:


It was enjoyable, but it did not bring anything new to the table (I am pretty sure CS Lewis broke the 'trilogy rule' of fantasy...) and it should not have been 14 650+ page books. It is definitely not the greatest fantasy series since Tolkien. Now that it is complete, I wonder if it will be remembered in the years to come, or if it will be overshadowed by its betters.   

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