Book Review: A Memory of Light

I must admit that it is a bit surreal to be writing a (spoiler-free) book review for A Memory of Light.  If you had told me when I first picked up the books as a middle school student that the conclusion would be half a lifetime away…  Well, I still probably would have read it because that is the kind of kid I was. But I don’t think I would have been able to comprehend how much my life would change in the years waiting for the finale.

It is amazing to think what a profound influence these books have had on the person I have become.  In some ways it is a bit embarrassing to admit how often I thought of characters and situations in these books to give me guidance.  It might seem silly to credit a fantasy series with strongly forming my sense of being, but I have grown up with the characters in these books.  They were my heros.  My mentors.  My friends.  Which is why the ending to their story was so important.  And, I have to say, I am very satisfied by the ending.  It was exciting, emotionally exhausting, and, in a word, epic.  (Is there a more appropriate word to describe a book that contains a 200 page long chapter?)  It was exactly the ending that the series deserved to have.  It just felt right.

I mean, sure, there were a few times where I thought that a particular character arc might have been a bit rushed, or that we hadn’t quite had the set-up for a particular ending.  But, in general, I felt that everything that happened came about with a purpose and a plan.  Not that there weren’t a few twists and surprises.  There were definitely more than a few times when I was shouting at the book.  Either in horror at what was happening, surprise at a twist of events, or glee at seeing a beloved character return to the page.  This was probably the most vocal book-reading I have ever done since I no longer had to sound out words on the page.  Which is, I think, a good indication of just how engaging this story is.

I would also have to say that it was clear that Robert Jordan himself wrote a fair bit of this book.  I mean, I know there has been a bit of debate in the fandom over whether we should even be speculating who wrote what, but I have to say that there is a certain tone and precision to Robert Jordan’s writing style that makes it fairly distinctive.  And there were some characters who were just not quite the same after Brandon Sanderson took over the writing.  Don’t get me wrong – I am not complaining.  I would rather have an imperfect ending than no ending.  Because this story deserved an ending.  But I am also willing to admit that there were some characters who were just slightly off in books 12 and 13.  But not here.  At a certain point in the story everything just felt… right.  Comfortable.  Like slipping on a well worn pair of boots.  Which ultimately served to give the ending that much more impact.

In the end I have to say I gave this book a standing ovation.  It delivered everything that the series has been promising for the past two decades.  It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me scream out in frustration and joy.  Considering everything it was as close to perfect as I think it could be.  I had a lot of people ask me if I was feeling a sense of emptiness or withdrawal now that the series had ended.  I actually feel quite the opposite.  I feel full and satisfied.  Happy and content.  At peace.  These characters whom I have know for so long have at last had their story told, and it was a great one.  It has enriched my life in ways I cannot fully express, and, despite my rambling review, I don’t know if I can find adequate words to describe what this series has meant to me.  It is a story I am sure I will carry with me forever, and one I am sure I will turn to and read again and again.  I don’t know if I can appropriately express my gratitude to the entire team of people who made this possible, but thank you.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

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