Here we are. The last Wheel of Time book. The grand finale to a fourteen book long fantasy epic.
Not counting New Spring, that’s a topic for another day.
The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass. The time has finally come for the Last Battle. All of the forces of good make their last desperate preparations, but many of them are still at each other’s throats. Can Rand and the others pull everyone together in time? And more importantly: will the Dragon Reborn be able to defeat the Dark One once and for all?
Reading this book can be exhausting. A good seventy-five percent of it is battling and war. Hell, the chapter simply titled ‘The Last Battle’ is over nine hours long in the audio book! This book is filled to the brim with combat, which can definitely get tiring. In a way, that’s fitting; you feel just as worn out as the characters who are doing the fighting!
Not to say that the book is bad. Far from it. While it can definitely be draining, the plot is still remarkable. You can never tell what is going to happen next as the combat takes constant twists and turns. Plus, it brings a good many plotlines in this series to a satisfying conclusion; Perrin finally masters his powers and confronts Slayer, Lan reforms his lost kingdom in battle, Mat proves himself as a leader, and of course: Rand confronts the Dark One.
On the subject: I love the battle between Rand and the Dark One. It isn’t just a magical slugfest where Rand kills his foe. It’s made a point that he can’t do that without massive consequences! Instead, he needs to get clever and find a new way to win. One that involves every aspect of the magic system. You can definitely feel the Sanderson influence in that part, though I don’t doubt that it was what Jordan had planned for.
Unfortunately, not every plot is brought to a good conclusion. Many of them are incredibly rushed and unsatisfying. Of all of them, Padan Fain is the worst example; his defeat feels like a side note, if not a total joke. Other characters are killed off without any dramatic or emotional impact; of all the characters who died in this book, only one of them didn’t feel like mere shock value.
Also, this book does something that drove me freaking crazy: it introduced an entire new country into the battle. You heard that right! Halfway through the last book in this FOURTEEN book long series, a whole new, hither-to unmentioned kingdom steps into the Last Battle! It’s like a little kid saying, “Oh yeah, and the so-and-sos are there too!”
Now, let’s talk about the ending. Overall, I do think it is solid. It brought the series to a highly satisfying end. If anything, I wish it was slightly longer; of all the dozens of plot threads in this book, only a small handful of them are given a proper conclusion due to time. Still, I do think this is a very good way to end the Wheel of Time. So much so that it made me want to go back and read the series again!
Then I remembered the Slump and decided that could wait for another day.
As the final book in the series, A Memory of Light is fantastic. Yes, it has plenty of issues. But overall, it is a highly satisfying and exciting conclusion to this monstrous series. I don’t feel the need to recommend it; if you’ve gotten this far in the series, you’ll read this one. Be assured: you won’t be disappointed.
So that’s it. That’s the Wheel of Time. After over a year of reading these books, we’ve finally reached the end. It feels like we just reached the top of a high mountain. I’m exhausted, but god damn I am satisfied!
Way back when I reviewed the first book, I wondered if going through this series would be worth it. So, was it?
That, I’ll go into next week. I still have a few Wheel of Time articles I want to write before I walk away from this series. Next time, we’ll do a review of the series as a whole. Afterwards, we’ll cover New Spring. Once that’s done, we’ll put all the books onto a Tier List. Then, at long last, we’ll be done.
See you all next week.