Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (spoiler free)

When you've committed yourself to a series which was written over the course of 22 years, there are a great many emotions that come into play with the final book. First and foremost for me, was the sadness that Robert Jordan was not with us to see the series completed. His death in 2007 was a huge loss to literary and fantasy fans, especially to those of us who knew him personally. However, if Robert Jordan could not finish the series himself, his sagacious widow/editor Harriet McDougal, and Tor Books selected Brandon Sanderson to weave together an ending. Sanderson used Jordan's ideas, notes, scattered writings, and dictation, with the expert assistance of Ms. McDougal and Jordan's two assistants (aka Team Jordan) to bring the series to its conclusion.

The story that began all those years ago, with three boys and a girl leaving the Two Rivers, drew to a close for me today. I can't say that I was as enamored of the final book as I was with the first, but given the length of the series, and the length of this book (909 pages hardback; 33 CDs in the audio version, both of which I read/listened to in the course of this journey), that's not surprising.  Some of my favorite characters got less page-time than I would have liked. Character development was a bit uneven for this reader, and there was a bit more telling than showing as to the strengths/weaknesses of some. It was sad to say goodbye to many, though given this is an all-out fight for good against evil, and not a romance-chick lit, I knew that some friends would spin out of the pattern. It's been fun to speculate how much of the book was penned or envisioned by Jordan, how much by Sanderson, including who survived the Last Battle. Certainly, (and for this I am quite grateful), Sanderson did not try to imitate Jordan's style, and there were times that some of his writing tics were clear. I also found myself missing some of Jordan's familiar ones (she said with arms folded under her breasts.)

The final book leads up to the Last Battle, good versus evil. And though there was fighting both before and after, the chapter bearing that title was 200 pages long.  I am not a great military historian, but even so, the battle played out across the pages with clarity. I'd been listening to the audio version prior to 37, so was grateful to have the map in the hard copy to help orient myself during the fighting. I still am uncertain how some characters got from point A in one scene, across the field to point B in another, but am determined not to give spoilers with my continuity concerns, or fan-girl questions.

There were some moments of brilliance, which helped to outweigh any dissatisfaction I had. Some of the cursing was among the most colorful I have ever heard (and enjoyed.) I draw comfort though, in the thought that  there are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. The wind will continue to blow; the Wheel will continue to turn. The Wheel of Time, and all it has brought me, will continue to weave through the threads of my days. Tai'shar Jordan.

Disclaimer: I am a relative of a member of Team Jordan.

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