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547 of 622 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect ending!
NOTE: I tried to make this review as spoiler-free as possible but still enjoyable for people that have read the book. You might not want to read it if you want to go into the book with an absolutely blank slate, but none of the book's surprises are spoiled if you do read it.

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I know there are no endings to the Wheel of Time and this is...
Published 22 months ago by Kriti Godey

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222 of 282 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Better Than Adequate Ending to a Failed Love Affair
All kidding and snark aside, I feel like a widower leaving the cemetary after a soured marriage has ended with the death (by natural causes) of a bi-polar spouse. Tonight on the Red Line I fnished the final volume of 'The Wheel of Time.' The passionate book affair of my youth that grew stale, bitter and embarrassing before rekindling into acceptance, fondness, and...
Published 21 months ago by Amazon Customer


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547 of 622 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A perfect ending!, January 8, 2013
By 
This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
NOTE: I tried to make this review as spoiler-free as possible but still enjoyable for people that have read the book. You might not want to read it if you want to go into the book with an absolutely blank slate, but none of the book's surprises are spoiled if you do read it.

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I know there are no endings to the Wheel of Time and this is merely AN ending, but I still can't believe the Wheel of Time is over.

This book is a perfect ending. The main theme of the Wheel of Time has always been balance between two opposing forces - saidin and saidar, Darkness and Light, good and evil. The resolution of the story carries that philosophy to its logical place - there's no other way it could've ended.

Don't go into this book expecting all your questions to be answered - some are, but a lot aren't. It feels right, though - there are far bigger things going on.

Most of this book involves battles. Tarmon Gai'don is the Last Battle, and the stakes are truly desperate. The book does a great job of conveying the scale of this conflict, even though it's exhausting to read about. Any less, and it would've been too easy to win. The usual "no one dies" approach that the rest of the books have does not apply. Some very bad things happen to very good people, and death seems better than some of them. Our heroes are outnumbered and outmaneuvered, and it shows. Even at the end, you're not left feeling like it's been a great victory - you're horrified. There's still hope, though, and that's what matters.

Of course, it's not all bleak - there are several moments where characters are really awesome, including some unexpected ones (Gaul, you are the man). There are some very touching moments between people (one of my favourite ones involves Annoura Sedai and Berelain). There's even some humour - usually Mat or Talmanes are involved (although, one fan theory concerning Demandred gets a very unsubtle nod). Long-awaited prophecies are fulfilled in unexpected ways (Logain's glory and Seanchan helping Egwene, I'm looking at you!) And there are still some cool plot twists.

The battles are not just about swords and spears and the One Power, there are several maneuvers by both sides that were absolutely brilliant. What seemed like throwaway incidents in the previous books come into play in a very clever way.

I liked that Perrin, Mat and Rand were fighting on different "fronts", so to speak. Their special strengths were uniquely suited to what the forces of the Light needed, and brings their character arcs to a satisfying close. Most of the characters got a satisfying ending, not just the ta'veren, but my favourite was Birgitte's.

We finally get to meet Demandred (I guessed right about where he was!), and he's quite formidable. I'm used to the Forsaken being easily balefired/defeated by our heroes, but not Demandred. Some adversaries that I thought would have a much bigger role end up not being a huge threat, though.

I really couldn't see how the multitudes of issues with the Seanchan would be tied up in time for Tarmon Gai'don, but it's handled very neatly. A completely unexpected character ends up playing a pivotal role, and I hope that the Seanchan system of institutionalised slavery can end because of that character. The Black Tower plotline's resolution was not quite so satisfactory, but it works pretty well.

I kind of wish there was more of an epilogue, but I think that's just me being selfish and wanting to see the dawn of the Fourth Age. It's probably a good thing there wasn't one, judging by the Harry Potter epilogue.

It's rare that I say this about a book that ends a much-loved series, but A Memory of Light is everything I wished for and more! Thank you, Robert Jordan for creating this incredible world, and thank you, Brandon Sanderson for doing such an excellent job giving us a satisfying conclusion.
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272 of 319 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A triumphant finale to the series, despite a few missteps, January 9, 2013
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
The Wheel of Time is finished. That's a statement that's going to take a while to get used to. The first volume of the series, The Eye of the World, was published in January 1990. George Bush Snr. and Margaret Thatcher were still in power and the Cold War was still ongoing. Fourteen books, four million words, eleven thousand pages and over fifty million sales (in North America alone) later, the conclusion has finally arrived. Can it possibly live up to the expectations built up over that time?

It is a tribute to the plotting powers of Robert Jordan, the writing skill of Brandon Sanderson (who took over the series after Jordan's untimely death in 2007) and the hard work of Jordan's editors and assistants that A Memory of Light is - for the most part - a triumphant finale. Given the weight of expectations resting on the novel, not to mention the unfortunate circumstances under it was written, it is unsurprising that it is not perfect. The novel occasionally misfires, is sometimes abrupt in how it resolves long-running plot strands and sometimes feels inconsistent with what has come before. However, it also brings this juggernaut of an epic fantasy narrative to an ending that makes sense, is suitably massive in scope and resolves the series' thematic, plot and character arcs satisfactorily - for the most part.

It is a familiar viewpoint that The Wheel of Time is a slow-burning series, with Robert Jordan not afraid to have his characters sitting around talking about things for entire chapters (or, in one case, an entire novel) rather than getting on with business. However, Jordan at his best used these lengthy dialogue scenes to set up plot twists and explosive confrontations further down the line, pulling together the elements he'd established previously in surprising and interesting ways. This reached a high in the slow-moving sixth book, which ended with what is regarded by many as the series' best climax to date at the Battle of Dumai's Wells. Steven Erikson (whose Malazan series is the most notable recent mega-long fantasy series to have also reached a final conclusion) used the term 'convergence' for such structural climaxes and it's fair to say that this is what A Memory of Light is: a convergence for the entire series. All thirteen of the previous novels lined up plot cannons in preparation for the Last Battle, and in the closing chapters of Towers of Midnight Brandon Sanderson started triggering them.

The result is not The Wheel of Time you may be familiar with. A Memory of Light is a brutal, bruising, 900-page war novel that kicks off with all hell breaking loose and doesn't pause for breath until the ending. The prologue starts with a well-paced sequence as we find out the state of play for the major characters, intercut with Talmanes and the Band of the Red Hand engaging hordes of Shadowspawn on the streets of Caemlyn. The rotation of scenes between the desperate street fighting and more familiar politicking is highly effective and is exhausting in itself. Immediately after this we alternate between Rand's attempts to pull together a coalition against the Shadow whilst a small group of Asha'man try to save their organisation from destruction against overwhelming odds. No sooner is that over than the Last Battle is joined in full force. Vast armies clash, channellers engage one another in One Power exchanges that dwarf anything seen before in the series and lots of stuff blows up. There's more action sequences in A Memory of Light than the rest of the series put together, more than earning the adage 'The Last Battle'.

The action sequences (which make up almost the whole book) are, for the most part, impressive but benefit from unpredictability. Jordan has been criticised for making his characters too safe, with almost no major character of note (on either side) dying in the previous books of the series. This limitation has been removed for the Last Battle. Major characters, middling ones and scores of minor ones are scythed down in this final confrontation with near-wild abandon. Some get heroic, fitting, blaze-of-glory ends. Some die in manners so unexpected, offhand and callous that even George R.R. Martin might nod in approval. Many of the survivors are seriously wounded, either in body or mind. Jordan's experiences as a Vietnam vet informed Rand al'Thor's arc in The Gathering Storm, and resurface here when one major character is tortured by the Shadow before being rescued, but spends the rest of the book suffering the effects of his experiences. The war scenes are suitably epic and exciting, but Sanderson remembers to include moments counting the cost of such a struggle.

That said, there is an annoying discrepancy in the Last Battle sequence compared to earlier novels. Based on the army sizes in previous volumes and the number of channellers in each faction, the good guys should have brought the better part of a million troops and five thousand One Power-wielders to the Last Battle, and the Shadow several times more. There is no indication that such vast numbers are present, which seems rather odd. There is also the fact that the channellers suddenly seem to be much less effective in mass combat than previously shown. This is most blatant when Logain is angrily told that he and a couple of dozen Asha'man cannot hope to defeat a hundred thousand Trollocs by themselves. Given this is exactly what happened in one scene in Knife of Dreams, I can only conclude that the channellers were deliberately reduced in power for this book, which is very strange.

For the most part, this is the level of problems A Memory of Light presents: something mildly irritating to those who prefer consistency from fictional works but ultimately not hugely relevant to the overall thrust of the narrative. Similar issues can be found with a number of very minor subplots that the novel fails to resolve (or even address) from earlier volumes. In some cases these may be examples of what Robert Jordan himself said would happen in the last book, with some elements left deliberately hanging to give the illusion that life goes on after the last page is turned. In other cases, it may be that Jordan did not draft out how those storylines ended, so Sanderson chose to leave them rather than risk too inventing too much of his own material. Sanderson even refuses to name an important river that Jordan did not name himself, resulting is a slightly awkward battle sequence where characters talk about the 'river on the border', the 'river on the battlefield' and so on, which is a bit laboured.

However, whilst the war scenes rage there is also a philosophical struggle at the heart of the book, and of the series. This struggle is shown in the confrontation between Rand and the Dark One in which their visions of the world and the Wheel are shown in conflict with one another. Robert Jordan was convinced that whilst there were certainly complexities and shades of grey in real life, he also believed that real good and real evil existed, and these ideas form part of the philosophical struggle that takes place alongside the battles. How successful this is will vary (perhaps immensely) from reader to reader, but is not helped by some muddling of the issues. The primary struggle of the books has consistently been Good vs. Evil, but in this philosophy-off the idea of the Creator personifying Order and the Dark One Chaos also arises, possibly as their primary roles. This is in conflict with the rest of the series and is also more tiresomely familiar and predictable. Once that interpretation arises, it's impossible not to think of the ending of the Shadow War in the TV series Babylon 5, and the resolution we get is not a million miles away from it (Rand even gets a line almost as awful as "Get the hell out of our galaxy!").

On the prose side of things, it's pretty much the same set-up as The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight: acceptable, faster-paced and a bit less prone to unnecessary introspection. Where Sanderson comes undone (yet again) is his very occasional use of terminology and language that Jordan would never have used, particularly modern words and terms. Though relatively rare, they still jar a little bit when they appear. The book's centrepiece is a single chapter that is almost 200 pages (and 70,000 words) long in hardcover, with some 70 POV characters playing a role. Apparently both Sanderson and Jordan wrote parts of this chapter, and a few minor inconsistencies aside their writing styles mesh very well. The very last section of the epilogue, written by Robert Jordan himself before he passed (including, rather eerily, Jordan's epitaph from his own funeral), is indeed a fitting way to end the book.

Taking everything into account, A Memory of Light is a lot better than perhaps we had any right to expect. The book is a relentless steamroller of action, explosions, plot resolutions, deaths and philosophical (if somewhat confused) arguing. Some elements are under-resolved, or a little too convenient, or not fleshed out enough. But that's par for the course with any ending to a series this huge. The big questions are answered, the final scene is fitting and the story ends in a way that is true to itself, which is the most we can ask for.
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222 of 282 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Better Than Adequate Ending to a Failed Love Affair, February 7, 2013
By 
Amazon Customer (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
All kidding and snark aside, I feel like a widower leaving the cemetary after a soured marriage has ended with the death (by natural causes) of a bi-polar spouse. Tonight on the Red Line I fnished the final volume of 'The Wheel of Time.' The passionate book affair of my youth that grew stale, bitter and embarrassing before rekindling into acceptance, fondness, and nostalgia has ended. Thank the Light.

Some thoughts with, forgive me (or don't forgive me. Bite me), spoilers-

THE GOOD:

- Egwen al'Vere. I always knew this was about Egwene, and in the end, she delivered and left the stage without needing an encore.

- Rand al'Thor. After passing through what Joseph Campbell called the Apotheosis in 'The Heroe's Journey,' Rand became likeable again, and I was again invested in his success.

- al'Lan Mandragoran. Yes, he is the grizzled, gruff, wounded archetypical hero we've seen numerous times, often wearing the face of Clint Eastwood, Tommy Lee Jones, John Wayne, etc., but I'm a sucker for that character everytime.

- People died, almost too many. While not ballsy enough to go all "Game of Thrones" and kill off principle characters when the story needed to go there (except once), neither was the Last Battle a gutless "Deathly Hallows" finale that only offed C-list players.

- The point of view (as with George RR Martin's novels, but for different reasons) slid off the main characters a lot. This annoyed many readers, but I think was necessary as we have spent over 9,000 pages with those characters as written by Robert Jordan before he died, and each moment spent with those characters as written by another author put the reader in peril of tripping over something that would not have rung true.

- Androl and Pevara. Two of he C-listers whom Sanderson pushed to the fore beguiled me with their sweet, funny, romantic discovery and acceptance of each other. And Androl's never-explained-yet-mysterious backstory kept my interest as well.

- Min Farshaw. Love you, babe. Have always loved you. Sanderson did not lose your essence.

- "Horn of Valere, we haven't seen you for, like, what? 11 thousand pages? Good to have you back. We all learned back in volume 2 that you are monogamous, and once blown, can't be blown by anyone else until the most recent hornsounder dies. Mat Cauthon blew you in 'The Great Hunt' and then "died" briefly in 'The Shadow Rising.' I don't know why it took another 8 thousand pages before anyone figured out that you were single again, but I must say that your new hornsounder was, for me, perfect."

- Birgitte's final rescue of the useless Elayne Trakand. One shouldn't kill a warder out of Legend when the Horn of Valere is within sounding distance. Others apparently hated this turn of events, but I loved it.

- Lanfear's end game. Thank goodness the witch who opened the Bore did not try to pull a 'Return of the Jedi' move to redeem herself.

- Alivia. I did not see it coming, but she did indeed fulfill the foretelling that she would "help Rand die."

- Nynaeve didn't tug on her hair once (because the author wisely burnt off her braid in some heated kerfluffle in, I believe, volume 13).

- The gift on one last, lingering question: How did Rand Al'Thor light his pipe in the final chapter? One last, unanswerable question, and Sanderson himself has stated that he doesn't know the answer, only that Jordan wrote the event into the last chapter before he died.

THE ODD:

- ONLY TWO YEARS HAS PASSED SINCE MOIRAINE AND LAN TOOK THE BOYS AND EGWENE OUT OF THE TWO RIVERS? Really? The online authorities seem to agree with that timeline, but it doesn't seem right.

- Did the Last Battle really need to be fought on 4 fronts, then 2 fronts plus a metaphysical throwdown between the Dragon Reborn and the Dark One? Seems like it should have all gone down at Shayol Ghul.

- Moiraine Damodred and Thom Merrilin? Like romantic? This was hinted at so much after her "death" 3 or 4 thousand pages into the story that I had hoped we were being tricked into considering it a possibility even though there had been almost zero indication of it up to that point. But no, they ended up being a thing, a married thing, an Aes Sedai and her gleeman warder thing.

- Rand did an Elphaba at the end. I won't say whether it was the Elphaba move from the musical or the novel, just that I was not expecting it and am unsure if I wholly approve.

THE DISAPPOINTING:

- Demandred's secret identity was . . . Demandred. I'm serious. Really, I am. It was a lamer reveal than the Final 5 Cylons. I was hoping that Demandred would be someone like Talmanes or, even better and more painful, Tam al'Thor (which, I know, would have meant Demandred would have had to have escaped from Shayol Ghul at least 20 years before the other Forsaken).

- Siuan Sanche deserved a better.

THE BAD:

- Perrin. You shouldn't be married to Faile Bashere You should be living in Brooklyn and dating Karen Cartwright or Rachel Berry. Get over yourself.

- The Last Battle. The scion of good faces the heart of evil. Hot Channing-Tatum-as-Buddhist-Jesus-with-a-Sword against a blank, black wall that talks with its CAPS LOCK ON. What did we realy expect them to accomplish other than a long, repetitive, slightly disjointed and simple-minded contemplation of "What is evil?", "What is free will?" and the dumb resolution that humans can be good and have free will and live a happy, trolloc-free existence if we just lock the devil up in an unbreakable cage and forget he exists.

- Oh, 11 thousand pages in and now we have a gay male character mentioned in passing? Too little. Too late.

- Demandred last lived at the end of an age of peace dominated by high technology and magic, but he is somehow a master swordsman whose skill is unequalled by any in the present age (who have had 30 generations of low tech war in which to perfect their skill at killing each other)? That's just stupid.

- Demandred last lived at the end of an age of peace, but he is somehow an almost un-equalled military strategist and general? That's just (see above).

- THOSE BASTARDS KILLED BELA!?!?!?
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201 of 264 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Without spoiling things, far more Towers of Midnight than Gathering Storm, January 10, 2013
By 
This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
Brandon Sanderson's "A Memory of Light" is an ending to the Wheel of Time series. To blatantly borrow and paraphrase, it is not a great ending, it is not a horrific ending, but it is an ending. While Sanderson should be commended for his willingness to devote 5 years of work on the near-impossible task of cleaning up Jordan's mess, many of the self-inflicted writing issues prevalent in his previous efforts continue in this book. Furthermore, his decision to separate Jordan's planned single final volume into three books rather than two now appears questionable. 3 stars.

Harriet McDougal's choice of hiring another author to finish the Wheel of Time series was a generous gift to fans, and Brandon Sanderson deserves a lot of credit for signing on. The incredible mess that Jordan left behind would have been difficult for anyone to finish, and the fact that Sanderson did so, and did so generally on schedule, is a testament to his skill as a prolific writer.

Sanderson's first book, "The Gathering Storm", provided great hope as it was probably the best of the series since "Fires of Heaven" over ten years earlier. "Towers of Midnight" (ToM) wasn't awful, but clearly dropped off in quality as both plot progression and character writing showed cracks. Many fans had anticipated that ToM was merely going to be the "Two Towers" equivalent of the final trilogy of the Wheel of Time. The book might not have been as strong as its predecessor, but by moving characters around and tying up loose ends it would serve a necessary purpose in clearing the deck for a spectacular ending.

Unfortunately, this hope isn't realized as "A Memory of Light" ends up far closer in quality to "Towers of Midnight" than "The Gathering Storm". There are four main areas of difficulty.

First, A Memory of Light consists almost entirely of various incarnations of the Last Battle. Any book filled with continuous combat faces high hurdles, let alone one spanning well over 800 pages. Very few writers can pull off even a few hundred pages of battle sequences without things wearing quite thin; had Jordan remained alive, even someone with his combination of knowledge of swordsmanship and medieval army tactics, real-world military experience, and vividly descriptive writing might have had difficulty. Sanderson is a reasonably good combat writer, but the overload of nearly identical sequences in different places at times makes for repetitive reading.

What's more problematic is how he chooses to wrap up some characters and plot lines. The denouement of some fairly significant characters who have received a combined thousands of pages of writing comes in as little as two sentences, and this adds on to the continuation of a loss of sharpness of character writing - much like going from Bluray to VHS - that was prevalent in ToM. Sanderson also makes the strange decision to repeatedly involve previously minor characters in important plot lines while bumping numerous well established characters to near-cameo roles.

Plot, too, becomes an issue. While most main plot points are wrapped up, this often comes rather abruptly; some fans will find problems with a number of major mysteries that have lasted for years being resolved almost as an afterthought. Much as in ToM, some other, larger plotlines don't get explored much; one entire army has its potentially fascinating culture nearly ignored, and any number of other mysteries that have taken up hundreds of pages in Jordan's books end up getting a couple of paragraphs to end them while others don't get fully answered whatsoever. Some of this may have been necessary just to get the book out and the series done, but there's a very legitimate question as to Sanderson's focus here.

The final point is that when looking at the three books produced by Sanderson, it's probably worth asking if writing only two might have been a better idea. It's fair to note that Sanderson probably had to fill in a lot in between Jordan's notes. (It would be quite interesting if Tor received permission to publish Jordan's notes, although this is unlikely.) That said, in looking at the entirety of the last three books, it seems quite possible that they could have been edited to a much tighter and more interesting two books with significantly less battle and maneuver and a lot more character evolution. It's probably unfair to criticize Sanderson too much for this as his strengths are not Jordan's, but it's also fair to wonder exactly why he took the tack that he did.

Still, it's better than many endings of long standing series and certainly better than not having the series completed at all. It's just not wholly satisfying. A simple way to think of things is that if you'd asked a fan in the early 1990s if the first few books of the Wheel of Time would still be read over and over in 2013, the answer would have almost certainly been yes. If you ask a fan today if A Memory of Light will be read over and over 20 years from now, the answer will almost certainly be no. On that note, a slightly sad but appropriate 3 stars.
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124 of 162 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Really missed the mark, January 15, 2013
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This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
Let me start out by stating that I think Brandon Sanderson is a great writer. I've read most of his published work, and I know he's capable and sophisticated. That's why I'm so disappointed in this book. Even the other WoT books he worked on were far superior to A Memory of Light.

And let's face it, he gets a lot of credit for managing to pull this off at all. Robert Jordan had created a huge, tangled ball of interwoven plots and sub-plots over the course of the previous books. Managing to resolve all of those fully would be extremely difficult even under the best circumstances.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling that pressure to complete the series in just one final book, and possibly page count limitations as well, have led to a less than ideal resolution to the series. My overall opinion is that all of my issues with this book could have been resolved if Mr. Sanderson had been allowed to add a few hundred pages of additional material. And I think he would have managed it well. Regardless of where the fault lies, I'm saddened by the end result though.

Below are my primary issues with the final installment in the series. Please be aware that there are major spoilers included and stop reading if you haven't pickup up the book yet.

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

*** SPOILER ALERT!!! ***

*** I REALLY MEAN IT!!! ***

1. Bao the Wyld, aka Demandred, is a very poorly implemented storyline. There's not enough detail to flesh out what he's been doing, his followers culture, or why they're really fighting for the Dark One. Less detail may have actually been more effective. As it is, there's just enough to get me interested, but no follow through.

The whole sub-plot around Bao/Demandred, his obsession with fighting Rand in a duel, and the three sword fights leading to his death feels arbitrary and incomplete. If there had been more information previously about this, or even a couple of dedicated chapters in A Memory of Light about it, it would've felt far more consistent with the rest of the series. He actually reminds me of some random 'Boss Mob' from an MMO, especially his constant shouts about Rand coming out to face him.

2. Where are the huge armies? Over the course of the previous books it was explained that there would be a titanic battle or series of battles. There were numbers provided that led me to believe there would be millions of Trollocs, at least a couple of million soldiers in the army of the Light, and likely thousands of channelers involved. The Aiel alone were supposed to number close to a million and have a thousand or more Wise Ones. Instead this final book is using armies in the tens of thousands. Perhaps a hundred thousand total in the armies of the Light, a few hundred thousand Trollocs total, and only hundreds of channelers in total.

I was expecting assaults on all of the major cities, roving armies traveling via gateway, and circles of men and women using the One Power to its full potential. Nowhere previously was it mentioned that 90 percent of the forces on both sides had been killed, so I'm extremely confused by this.

3. Many deaths or decisions seem out of character. I'm not upset that major characters die. That's expected, and even deaths due to stupid misfortune aren't anything I'd complain about. This book centers on a gigantic battle, and people die due to misfortune in those circumstances. Being trapped under a horse, shot by a stray arrow, overwhelmed in an ambush, or even tripping and falling in a particularly bad way I could accept. My problem is with characters acting far out of line with their established patterns. Well, that and the sudden revelation of new information used to justify their demise.

The most glaring example of this is Egwene, the Amyrlin, taking on Mazrim Taim head on, burning herself out, and dying in a glorious display of anti-balefire. She's one of the strongest, most disciplined, and most creative of all the main characters, but she rushes in and uses brute force with no real explanation. There's absolutely no subtlety to her battle. Suddenly discovering an anti-balefire weave doesn't change the fact that she's possibly the least likely character to rush in, guns blazing, on a suicide run. Grief over her husband's death isn't an excuse for someone with her level of discipline behaving that way. The fact that her husband, Gawyn's death is another example of strangely aberrant behavior from someone who was supposed to be past rash stupidity just makes it worse.

And on a related note, neither is her sa'angreal having no buffer an excuse for Egwene's death. I'm actually calling BS on that. Callandor was singled out specifically in earlier books as being unusual and dangerous because it didn't have a buffer. It's supposed to be critical to have one in all angreal, especially powerful ones, precisely to prevent damage to the user. The Choedan Kal had a buffer in the form of the access keys, and it's never mentioned as missing from any other angreal, anywhere. And yet we're informed via a revelation that the most powerful sa'angreal the White Tower has, one that has been in use for generations, and that Egwene herself used to the point of exhaustion in an earlier book, is missing this critical component. This is the worst kind of contrived garbage excuse to rationalize killing off a major character. A big rock falling from the sky when she happened to be looking the other way, that I could accept, but not her death as described in this book.

4. The intelligence and sophistication of the characters is extremely lacking in this final installment. For instance, in a series that has featured compulsion and dreamwalking, and Forsaken who like to use both to defeat their enemies, it's absurd that no protection was provided to the army generals to prevent Graendal from manipulating them. Moiraine is protecting her own dreams as standard practice every night early on in the series, and the need for such protection is common knowledge among the Wise Ones and Aes Sedai long before the Last Battle. The intelligent, cunning, and experienced characters I remember from previous books would've set wards and had guardians watching the general's dreams from the other side just in case. True Power being capable of bypassing wards or not, the Wise One dreamwalkers and the Aes Sedai in the real world should have been acting as guards to stop Graendal from getting close enough to even try it.

5. The Aiel. I don't understand why they were suddenly relegated to a background role. They were previously noted as having great tactical prowess and their leaders were considered as being the equals of the great wetlander generals. They had never suffered a major Trolloc invasion because they were too strong and smart to defeat. But now suddenly they're just skirmishers? And Rhuarc isn't put in charge of his own position to defend? WTF? I never use WTF, but it's really deserved here. I feel like Brandon Sanderson completely betrayed the whole Aiel storyline. Rand learned the lost song that could renew the world but never taught it to them, they're only used as skirmishers and archers, Rhuarc is just some guy instead of a brilliant general who previously defeated many of the wetlander commanders he's now expected to serve, the Wise Ones are almost ignored... There's just so much plot and potential wasted here that it hurts my head.

6. The battle that Rand has with the Dark One seems almost like a retake on the Mistborn (one of Sanderson's earlier works) ending with its battle of wills outside space and time, but it's even less satisfying. I was expecting more. More detail, more information, more subtlety.

The way the Rand vs. The Dark One segments are used feels like a series of predictable commercial breaks for the unending sequence of bad decisions or calamitous misfortunes endured by the other characters. Instead of a worthy ending, we end up with 'The Light cannot abide without the Dark' essentially. I understand the concept and I saw it coming about thirteen books ago. But the way it was actually laid out was so obvious and immature that it was insulting. This is the end of an epic fourteen book series, not some bad young adult vampire trilogy. And I think that basically summarizes my feeling on this book overall. The last two were just so good that I can't understand how this happened.
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29 of 36 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Such a pity, April 20, 2013
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Thank goodness for kindle, I would have hated to have actually spent so much money on such a shallow book. This was a 900 page book with two-thirds of it dedicated to opposing sides hacking away at each other. There was no real character maturation, just fighting. The conclusion for each main character that remained alive was.... Well, there really wasn't any. A paragraph, maybe two, for each person with a shallow and rather glib "life goes on" ending line. Even the wrap-up of loose threads, such as Fain, were treated as an afterthought.

This was such a fantastic series, it is so sad it had to end on such a disappointing note. The real losers of the Last Battle are the fans and readers who have waited so patiently, only to be charged for an epic snore.
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78 of 102 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I was so disappointed, February 14, 2013
This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
The final book, that I have been waiting for 13 years for was a total let down.

The majority of the book has to do with individual battle tactics, most of them not even focusing on the main characters.

-------Spoiler---------

Thom was mentioned in like 3 places.

Moiraine makes her great comeback from the dead at the very beginning of the book to then be left out of almost the entire story.

The characters seemed to have absolutely no driving force, all running around like chickens with their head's cut off. Following any story in this book is difficult, as new and worthless extra characters are added that give nothing to the story line but filler.

The Final Battle is entered into with Rand bravely walking into the pit, and engaging in 300 pages of conversation and blather reminiscent of his trip through Rhuidean. I looked at my book today and realized there were only about 10 pages left, and the dark one STILL hadn't been vanquished. I can sum up those pages here: "Rand changed his mind, locked the dark one back in prison and appeared to die, but he had just changed bodies. Oh, and everyone else pretty much died. Flowers on the hill."

What rubbish. 700 pages of mindless filler, and the end of 14 books, the great finale, after reading for 13 years and almost 10,000 pages, the great battle, having been foretold since about page 200 of the first book, is wrapped up in such an offhand manner that it may has well have been someone finishing eating a pie. Elayne took longer baths than this final battle royale between good and evil.

I would not recommend.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 stars at best, February 12, 2013
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This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
Well, that was a bit disappointing. More than a bit actually... Based on my ratings for the other books, it appears this is my least favorite book in the series and that is a tragedy.

The set-up in The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight was brilliant. The ground was prepared for a brilliant conclusion, but it just kind of fell flat unfortunately. The actual ending was rushed and some plot lines were given short shrift.

I don't know that I've ever said a Wheel of Time book could have been shorter because I have enjoyed their length and their depth, but it seems that where A Memory of Light had the length, it was lacking the depth that made this series truly great.

Here are a few examples of what's wrong with the book (IMHO):

***SPOILERS BELOW***

* Where was the payoff of the Tinkers finally finding their song? Loial sings a song of growing during the Last Battle, but it's never mentioned again. I thought this would signal the coming of what had been a consistent question throughout the series.
* Padan Fain? He gets how much page time here? 12 pages? 15? And his threat is extinguished just like that?!? It felt like an after thought. It felt obvious, and that's just a shame for the most terrifying villain of the series.
* Speaking of quick endings--Lanfear. Enough said.
* Gawyn? Then Galad? THEN Lan? Did we really need to see all three take the exact same foolish action just to prove to the WoT community that Lan is the best swordsman? Didn't we already know that? And what's with generals agreeing to fight a foe one-on-one? It's a level of pride that strikes me as unrealistic. But maybe that's just me.
* What about Elayne's babies? We don't get to see them?
* What's most frustrating about how quickly some things get wrapped up is how long it takes others to see the same. The Perrin vs. Slayer conflict gets dragged out for 3 or 4 epic struggles between the two. Cut out one of those and give both Fain and Lanfear more fitting build-ups and conclusions.
* It seems the length of this book was intended to show us things we should have already known, like: Mat as the supreme battlefield genius EVER.

Disappointing.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Characters are no longer true to form, and this book is no longer the Wheel of Time - material is unrecognizable, March 11, 2013
This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
The rating is solely for this book, but the post includes material for the entire series. With that said this book was easily the worst of the last three, it's not worth reading unless you are a Brandon Sanders fan.

If Robert Jordan (RJ) would have wrapped this series up in 10 or 11 books, instead of milking the series, this could have been considered among the best of all time for this genera. If you ever read the series again and skip/skim the characters which do not truly deserve chapters devoted to them (Nynaeve, Elaine, and Egwene) you will find this a much easier read. They make for great supporting characters, but with one exception, are unable to carry an interesting thread for any number of pages. The one exception was Egwene's demoted role as Amerlyn, where she embraces the pain and tower battle ... that part was a classic read! Do we really want to read hundreds of pages of drivel on girls/women trying to manipulate the main characters and each other, that and talk of clothing? As long as the focus is on the three main characters (Rand, Mat, and Perrin) the book keeps moving and is a great read... well aside from these last two books. A better author could have been selected, someone more fitting to RJ style.

Someone accurately wrote (in another review) that RJ wrote for everyone and Brandon Sanders (BS) writes for nerds. And you can't have a truly great series when you're only writing for a small percentage of the population. In my opinion BS is a sub-par writer, he shows flashes of brilliance, but then will go completely out of rhythm and create material like this book.

This final book, or a BS weak spot: an inability to apply different personalities to characters (they're all nerds, and the women do not seem like women); main characters were not the focus; Rand has no real part in this book; two page chapters makes a choppy read with no depth; 600 + pages of battle was excessive and then repetitive; battle strategies were unrealistic or plain stupid; unplanned and unorganized; un-realistic parts and themes not consistent with earlier books; main themes where ignored or a rushed, and by rushed we mean taking a theme which ran 10 + books and ending it with a paragraph; characters are no longer true to their original part; mystery outcome for main characters, instead we get endless battle scenes and no plot! Nothing is emotionally moving in this book, unless it's frustration in reading the material.

Earlier in the series i figured the Tinkers (and the lost song) would play a major role in the Dark Ones destruction... but it's not even mentioned. A co-worker envisioned Padan Fain playing a roll similar to that of Gollum in Lord of the Rings, again this character is completely (almost) ignored. The fact is that BS writes fluff material (no depth), and simply did not have the capacity to properly finish a series like this. Some people say they read the book to find out the outcome, but for me the characters changed so much that they were no longer the same; hence it did not matter. Mat and Nynaeve were interesting characters when RJ wrote, but somewhere along the way with BS I stopped liking these characters. In fact it was going that way for everything BS wrote about.

It's not too late to find another author to finish this book, but we need a writer who is attractive to all audiences. And don't rush the output, people will always wait for quality, trashy material will NOT pass the test of time. With a quality three book ending to this series (removing the last 3 books), you could condense and make a truly epic movie. As it stands now these ending books make the series sub-par and incomplete.

I actually liked BS first (joint-author role) addition to this series, but it was a down-hill slide from there. If you are OK with the nerdish material, don't mind things being nonsensical, enjoy endless battles, or are a BS fan you will possibly like the book... read and enjoy. The first few hundred pages were OK, but I found it very difficult to read this book to completion, skimmed much of it, almost tossed it in the garbage a few times, unsatisfied is an understatement.

It's truly baffling that anyone can give this book 5 stars... maybe 5 out of 100.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A satisfying ending to a giant fantasy series, but of course with its minor issues, March 17, 2013
By 
Jeff Walden (Mountain View, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) (Hardcover)
...and it's done. The first serious major fantasy series I ever picked up, back in probably 1998 or so, comes to a close. (I'm discounting The Lord of the Rings as not being quite a series. And I can't remember when I first picked up any of the Drizzt Do'Urden books, whether it was before or after the Wheel of Time, but in any case I think those books aren't quite so hefty as these.)

I'm one of those fans who spent hundreds of hours reading the books, theorizing about them, discussing them online (in the long-ago book forums on the Wheel of Time computer game website, mostly a ghost town now -- yes, I remember what the Land of Doubles is :-) ), attending book signings for them, and even going to the Provo midnight release party for this one. Really, to me, this is much more than just a fantasy book, even the final book of a series. It's the end of an era, of waiting years between books waiting for the next to come out, wondering what would happen next. I never would have guessed how far the ripples would extend from borrowing The Eye of the World from a friend who happened to be reading it.

Does the book deliver, as the final Wheel of Time book? (There's going to be an encyclopedia, but almost certainly never anything beyond that. Jordan left the barest of notes for potential "outrigger" novels, and he was ardently opposed to "sharecropping" his world, as he's said George Lucas has done with Star Wars. So it goes.) Yes. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the Wheel of Time, but this is an ending, and a satisfying one. It's even more impressive given that Jordan wasn't even the one to end it, as he sadly passed away from a rare blood cancer awhile ago and had to prepare all his notes for a successor -- not even one he had a hand in choosing -- to take up the challenge. We as fans demanded an awful lot of this concluding book, and Sanderson delivered.

Given the personal significance of the Wheel of Time to me, I would be more than justified, I think, in assigning it a five without further thought. I may have spent a few hundred dollars on Wheel of Time books (and ebooks) over the years, but I've gotten far, far more entertainment and joy out of them than that. At the same time, I think there are certain aspects of this book with which I take issue, or over which I have inchoate concern.

First, this book covered the Last Battle. Throughout the entire series the Last Battle has been portrayed as monumental and epic in every sense of the word (not just the overused Internet sense of it). And indeed it is that, in this book. The longest chapter of the book, titled -- well, I'll let you make the obvious guess -- is 190 pages. And there's plenty more battle beyond that. This might have been necessary, to appropriately fit the immenseness we'd all imbued the Last Battle with. But at the same time, it is looooooooong. It is excellent throughout, but even excellent battle scenes can't go as long, and sprawl as much as they did in this book, without going a bit too long. I have no idea how fewer or shorter battles could have conveyed the sense of scale and import of it all. But I do wish somewhat that it had been done. Also, totally contradictorily (I told you this was inchoate!), I kind of expected that there would be more fronts to the battle than there were, and that it would occur in many more places. The addition of large numbers of channelers to the Shadow's side explains why there weren't more, perhaps -- what Light-side channelers could have mopped up on their own became often overwhelming when Dreadlords entered the stage. But I expected far more widespread mayhem, perhaps far-flung guerrilla warfare, for the forces of darkness to have delighted in.

Second, the Black Tower. The gradual unfolding of much of that plot thread, and the interactions among particular characters in it, is delightful. (Especially with Pevara and Androl's relationship hearkening back to the Aes Sedai united as one in the Age of Legends.) Yet I was somewhat underwhelmed with the actual mechanics of the Dark here. (Admittedly the Dark aren't always the smartest or most well-coordinated villains around, but still.) It took them that long to accelerate their efforts? (And, really, previous books had made me think those efforts had progressed far further, and more successfully, than apparently they had.) And the denouement of that thread was really that sudden? I don't think those scenes did quite justice to the words of Elaida's prior Foretelling. (Unless that referred to other future events -- I think some of the prophecies did, but not this one -- but in this case it seems incredibly poor if that was the case.)

Third, Demandred. A competent Forsaken, finally! And yet. I wasn't surprised to see him appear, and from where he did. But I think we needed more than process of elimination to explain how he got to where he did. And we needed more back story to his dealings of the past couple years, to explain how he did it. (This may be a topic for the encyclopedia, but that tantalization should have been salved somewhat before. This issue goes all the way back, and I don't think Sanderson can truly be blamed for it.) And, returning to competency, slightly: Demandred was waaaaay too vocally angry. Sure, he had a chip on his shoulder the size of Hoth, but he was also really the only Forsaken that consistently got things done. And you're telling me he couldn't control his ego enough to not sound pompous? Seriously, he started to remind me a little of his parody in ISAM's classic Wheel of Time parody summaries. Not to mention, the supposed best general of the Shadow never seriously thought that Rand might be, um, some other, more strategic place, maybe? Like, um, maybe Shayol Ghul? C'mon Demandred, this is clownshoes.

Fourth, Slayer. The eventual way everything went down there was satisfying. But I feel like I never really understood the why of Slayer, his motivations, the history behind him, and so on. Probably that'll be cleared up in the encyclopedia. But I'd have liked a little bit more on him before now. (This is another complaint that isn't really at Sanderson's feet -- I feel like he may possibly have made extra effort to address these concerns. Really they should have been elaborated more in previous books -- perhaps the ones Sanderson did, so maybe I'm okay with shifting a little of the blame to him. :-) )

And there's probably more I could say here, both to praise and to complain, if I spent the time to think about it. But I'm already at ~1400 words, and I really should be moving on to other things now. :-) So I'll leave it at that.

All these complaints notwithstanding (and I feel like there are enough I really do have to drop it to a four, even if I loved it like a five), this was awesome. Highly anticipated, thoroughly enjoyable, a satisfying conclusion: Sanderson done good. (Although, reading an epilogue I knew to be almost 100% Jordan, I found myself missing all the more his words for the conclusion to the series. Sanderson doesn't have the same lyrical approach that Jordan does. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, and probably particularly wasn't for many of the battle scenes of these last three books. But in the quieter interludes and pauses, I sorely missed the real thing.) And much thanks to Team Jordan for picking him, and bringing Sanderson and his books to my attention. The only real regret I have is that this is an ending to fifteen years of my life, and to much of the endless theorizing, discussion, and anticipation. We all wanted this to happen. But it is a bittersweet ending nonetheless.
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A Memory of Light  (Wheel of Time, Book 14)
A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time, Book 14) by Robert Jordan (Hardcover - January 8, 2013)
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