Book Review: Wheel of Time, Book 14: A Memory of Light

WoT14

Overview

A Memory of Light, the final installment in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, was a battle strewn mayhem that attempted to bind together its over numerous plot threads, character arcs, and themes. The final strokes in a great number of these storylines were masterfully done. However, like any narrative this grand in scope, there were far too many targets to hit that it is only natural several skewed far from the mark. Ultimately the novel brought this grand epic to a fairly satisfying ending, though this book felt like a considerable step down from the previous three.

My spoiler free video review is here:

The deep dive SPOILER HEAVY video review is HERE


Plot & Themes: 6/10


The overarching plot dealing with the final battle against the shadow and Robert Jordan’s conception of what the “adversary” truly means for humanity was ultimately concluded in predictable fashion given the clear thematic bent of the overall series. Furthermore, for all the novel’s attempts to subvert the standard fantasy good vs. evil trope, the entire struggle between the main protagonist/antagonist leaned right into the archetypes and felt both contrived and mundane. The subplots and themes throughout are entirely too abundant to attempt to address. Suffice to say that there were simply too many themes and character arcs still dangling about for this series to give each their proper time and attention, thus some were handled with great care and others were abruptly brought to a halt. In some respects, one began to understand what themes and characters were of greater importance to the novelist, though these feelings may not have been shared by the readers.


Pacing: 5/10


The pacing of this novel is hard to evaluate because so much of it is battle (nearly 790 pages of the 1010-page version*). This novel attempted to address the concept of a final battle with evil in the grand scale that such a battle would likely entail. However, the method of execution may leave many readers feeling the pace of the novel jarring from previous installments. Furthermore, that the copious detail about mundane troop movements, battle strategies, and tactical aspects of the environment odd considering how many of the character stories are ended with a single line. That said, there were lulls in the action, but what is most striking is the seemingly infinite battle fronts and skirmishes that the novel jumps back and forth between at random. What ultimately damages the pacing in this is that the vast majority of these jumps leave each strand in one form of mortal peril or another. As a reader this level of tension cannot be maintained for over 700 pages. While the grand scale of the battle is necessary in some respects given the overall story line, the pacing of this final book felt very frenzied in a way that had less to do with the constant action and more with a poor conception of how to present such a large scale conflict while also preserving the balance the novels were able to achieve in previous installments.

*The version read for this review was the trade paperback published by Orbit in 2014


Narrative Style: 5/10


This book, much more than the previous two, had a clear feel of two hands upon the wheel. It was clear from the moment that Brandon Sanderson entered after the unfortunate passing of Robert Jordan that the narrative style had altered slightly. As any write can attest, no matter how one attempts to mimic another’s style, perfect replication is not possible. Thus, books 12 and 13 in this series felt slightly different in terms of narrative style. There were far less instances of large passages dedicated to painful amounts of needless detail, for one, and the balance between dialogue and description was skewed toward the former. However, this novel seemed to bounce back and forth between the style many readers had become accustomed to through the first 11 books of the series and the style of the two books previous to the final one. With all due respect to Robert Jordan and the world that he so masterfully created, the narrative style of this book suffered for that return to caring as much, if not more, about building the world than caring for the story and its inhabitants.


Conclusion: 6/10


Perhaps the single most difficult aspect of storytelling is the conclusion. With the sheer number of ambitious thematic ideas woven into this incredibly grand series, it was simply inevitable that some would feel let down by its conclusion. As Thom Merrilin might say, this book felt like a juggler attempting to handle more spinning knives than their skill allows. It is inevitable that it would cut itself, and this novel ended with more than a few nicks. With that said, it did however manage to dazzle with quite a few of the ending strokes and should be applauded for attempting to subvert many of the standard fantasy tropes. However, this novel, like so many others in the fantasy genre, built up to a rising final conflict and then attempted to end the story with a weakly written prologue in the short aftermath. More often than not fantasy writers fumble this aspect of their story, and this novel was no different. It was rife with clichés and standard survivor of the great battle endings. Furthermore, the final stroke in this piece was incredibly contrived. In attempting to avoid one cliché it walked right into another. All in all, the ending, or endings if one considers the wealth of character arcs as individual plot lines within the series, was mixed. Some aspects of it were quite well done, and others were rushed and not given the full attention they deserved.


Final Verdict: 6/10


The series ended in a whirlwind of conflict, with varied success in satisfactorily concluding the plethora of themes and plot lines introduced throughout this grandiose fourteen volume epic. This novel was a monument to stark contrasts, equal parts masterstroke and disappointment. Still, that can almost be expected after fourteen volumes and the vast number of hours required to complete the series. With that effort comes a large amount of investment in the outcomes, and it is impossible for a story so grand to completely satisfy in every aspect. This novel is well worth the read for the moments it shines, but it should be undertaken knowing that there will be an equivalent amount of darkness. All things in balance then, as the wheel demands.

 


This concludes my spoiler free review. What follows will be my deep dive analysis of some of the many plot lines and character arcs from the final installment.

THERE WILL BE SPOILERS! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!


Great Captains

The large opening section of this book follows a battle where the tension ends up being more or less useless. They break the battle into four major fronts with a great captain leading each one (Gareth Bryne, Rodel Ituralde, Davram Bashere, and Agelmar Jagad). This goes on for quite some time with a seemingly even win/loss ratio. Tension builds as some aspects of the plans begin to fail, or when a battle starts to turn, but in other times it swings back. Ultimately this is all pointless because all four captains were under compulsion from Graendal, forced to make just enough headway to seem like they were not losing on purpose, but to still be slowly dwindled away. As a reader, this made me feel like so much of the previous section and my investment in how the battles were turning to be a complete waste of time. I understand WHY they used it. The idea, as Rand aptly points out later, is to break their spirit, not kill them. But at the same time, it felt like a cheap gimmick to me. Which brings me to…

The True Power & Upping the Stakes

Almost every fantasy or long-standing series is guilty of what I am about to complain about, but it nevertheless annoys me as a reader. The True Power appears during this series as the form of magic that breaks the rules. It is the Dark One’s power, and as such, can only be drawn on with his permission. This is the gimmick used to overcome the rules the rest of the world spends so much time establishing. Thus, it is, in the final book, Graendal can whip about making non-standard gateways that cannot be felt by channelers and weave compulsion on all kinds of people undetected. The problem for me, logically, is, if the Dark One was setting out to break spirits, why not give Graendal this power to start with and have her doing this from moment one? Furthermore, if he needed to kill all the Forsaken once, or multiple times, and continue resurrecting them – or even just throw mindtraps on all of them – to get them to do what they are told, why not just do that from the jump. It simply feels like the Dark One has access to limitless powers that break the standard rules and chooses to use them in idiotic ways, or to unleash them just when it seems like the side of “good” has everything under control.

Furthermore, for all this series focuses on the balance of things (such as the “time as a spinning wheel” analogy and yin yang symbols of eastern mythological tradition) why was their no counterbalance to the True Power? The Dark One isn’t a typical “destroyer” in this world, standing in direct opposition to a “creator” figure, but rather a representation of the darkness that exists within the very essence of the human condition. As such his True Power should have some form of manifestation in light as well – to be consistent in my opinion.

I also appreciate that novels must continue to find methods of upping the stakes, but it felt like this novel did it almost endlessly. From introducing Red Veils, to the Sharans, to the Wild Hunt, and the final form of Mordeth, etc. I understand that this is the last battle and all things will be thrown into the fray, but it started to get tiring.

Great Captains (Final Note)

I’ll put this here because I liked the above progression as it was. The end result for all the great captains after they were put under compulsion was that they were removed from any meaningful position in the battles and two of them, arguably the two that had the most character development, were killed off page and only mentioned in passing. I did not appreciate this.

Siuan & Bryne

Siuan, for all her great character development up to this point, was unceremoniously put to rest. I don’t begrudge the story killing her though, I felt like it fit to a certain extent. However, she died while Min was the narrative focus, and Min had her back turned when Siuan actually died. I fully appreciate that this happens in war, but it felt cold to me. Then Bryne goes berserk (bond issues), charges into battle, and dies off page only to be mentioned in passing later. I felt these two got short shifted in this book.

Olver

I called this several books back and was not pleased when it came to fruit. I knew Mat was going to have been ‘released’ from the horn when the Eelfinn ‘killed’ him back in The Shadow Rising. I had a sinking feeling that we were being subjected to this annoying child character so he could play the hero and blow the horn. He did. I groaned. This was far too predictable for me and it made the whole tension of, “we have to get Mat the horn!” pointless. I did not enjoy this character or the way he was written in the condescending manner of, “the innocent child does the simple thing that adults just were too busy adulting to pay attention to”. Nor did I enjoy his portrayal as a budding womanizer. All in all, this was a character I could have done without.

However, Noal returning with the blowing of the horn was excellent. I really enjoyed that.

Tuon & The Seanchan

This portion could be an essay in itself, but I will keep it brief. I feel that the narrative inclusion of the Seanchan story line represents a massive theme that this series failed to properly address. They introduced them as a nation of that imprisons women against their will and tortures them into becoming human weapons as well as a people that pride themselves on forcing their way of life onto other nations in order to ‘free’ them. This is far too complex for how it was ultimately handled. As I argued in the previous reviews, they bit off far more than they could chew in including this only to give it a half-hearted resolution that anyone paying attention to the novel up to that point knows will hold no water once the final battle is complete. This was an extremely poor part of the story for me and I did not enjoy it.

Tuon herself had flashes of humanity that made her enjoyable at times, but it is impossible to divorce her presented character with her people. The more reasonable she becomes the more likely her people will assassinate her in her sleep. My final verdict on her is this: she represents a conglomeration of the most extreme elements of “Wheel” women. Bossy, violent, condescending, and arrogant. I had a hard time liking her. I also did not appreciate that this is where Mat’s relationship ended. C’est la vie.

Loial

I enjoyed Loial’s character, even though the Ogier were a bit too Ent like in many ways, and I feel he is one of the many who really suffered through the middle of the series with the countless hoards of new characters being thrown into the mix. He has a smattering of appearances in the book, as is necessary to record the ‘history’ of the story, and it was cool to see him and the other Ogier fighting. I also enjoyed Androl and Pevara’s trick luring some Dreadlords into a steading and having Ogier take them prisoner.

Androl & Pevara

Despite my initial aversion to having a whole new set of characters in an already bloated cast introduced in the second to last book, I quite enjoyed their story. It wasn’t over written or complex, and it felt very natural. They relationship these two built was enjoyable for me at the end of the story and I felt really satisfied with how they grew together. I also really liked their ‘double bonding’ and the extra layer of communication it gave them. I am sure there are very few married people that would survive that though!

Logain

This is another character that I feel was neglected after Lord of Chaos. I wanted to see a bit more of him, but he more or less disappears after the fight at the manor in Knife of Dreams. To a certain extent this is understandable based on the Black Tower story, but the Black Tower is also a story that should have received greater page time.

In this story he goes back to being broken a bit only to come around (somewhat) at the end. He started strong (as the false dragon), was broken by the Aes Sedai, then repaired and seemed to stabilize once un-gentled, only to be tortured by Taim and returned to his broken self. He fails in his fight with Demandred (one of three who fail) and grumbles about power after that (wishing for the scepter Demandred held) and marches off to serve himself through parts of the fight after that because of it. In the end Androl pleads with him to do the right thing and he reluctantly does. Ends with a woman thanking him and promising to bring her son to the Black Tower to be tested.

Forsaken & Dark Friends

Demandred & The Sharans

Demandred finally reveals the race of people he was lording over and, while mentioned in passing through other parts of earlier books, it was a race heretofore unseen. So, in the final book, we have a whole new race of people with a massive army of channelers trained more like Damane. Narratively I understand the need to raise the battle stakes, but I really felt like too many new things were brought into this final story when the series was already bloated with too many characters and peoples.

Furthermore, Demandred himself was described as a master tactician in the book, then spent his time in the battle shouting endlessly about wanting to fight Lews Therin. I appreciate that the Forsaken are all unbalanced sociopaths, but this also felt very cliched. Further, it felt like a similar obsession to Sammael. In the end, he stood there taunting and shouting in the midst of the battle for Rand at the top of his power amplified lungs and it felt like an old, tired hat this series just loves to wear. Bad guys and their obsession with killing the most powerful good guy and being a complete idiot about it. It almost felt like an episode of Dragonball Z, or any other battle anime.

Taim

Stood on his mobile battle tower and zapped some people. Turns out, of course, he had stolen the actual seals that Rand was so sure he’d had in his possession. Again, this was old hat. So now the good guys must get the seals back, and we’ll need to get through Taim to do that. That said, the way Androl got them back was amazing. I liked that part.

Ultimately Taim goes off on a balefire bonanza and Egwene ends him. That was a moment when they did go back to their idea of balance. For Taim, he got to die in a blaze of glory at least, but he didn’t really do much in the battle. Yes, he was a major force in the borderlander battle and other places, but this was other characters talking about what Taim did. His actual page time was limited.

Graendal

Annoying is really the only way to describe her. At least with her, however, she was killed by her own people and brought back. I could live with that. This whole book she is really the boss bad guy. She screws everything up for everyone. She darts back and forth with her new magic gateway and weaves her unseen compulsion on anyone and everyone. She creates a magic troop of followers in the Shayol Ghul fight and goes blasting everyone. I feel like, for all she seemed to get knocked down a peg in the last book, she was the one who accomplished the most of all the forsaken in this fight. Yeah, Demandred mowed people down with his balefire and shouted a lot. Fought three duels and lived… until he came face to face with the man who does not get out dueled. But Graendal with her little trick cost the side of light countless lives without them even knowing it. This is why I feel her “True Power” tricks were a bit overpowered to be honest. In the end she suffers turn about and her compulsion backfires on her. It was a good fight all in all, and I liked the outcome, but I felt her power level suddenly spiked in this book despite having been killed and demoted.

Mohgadien

Plays the spy, doesn’t really have much true on page time and I could not have cared less. She lost all real threat the moment the mindtrap got put on her. In the end she tries to play Demandred after he gets killed, using a Mask of Mirrors, but it comes to nothing. Then she goes to run at the end of the battle and a Sul’dam collars her.

I was furious they did not let Birgette arrow her to death. That is how that wench should have died.

Lanfear

Again. Old hat. She was so interesting in the first few books, then her whole character got played out. She should have stayed dead. Or, just get rid of the other bland Forsaken women and just let her run the show. Either way, she has her interaction with Rand and finally realizes he doesn’t love her… so she moves on to Perrin. Everyone with half a brain knows whatever she’s doing with Perrin is a setup. It’s obvious to the point of being eye rolling. Then when her trap is sprung, there is no way the story will allow it to go through. So, all her plotting just gets her killed… again. Boring.

Gawyn

Of all the light side hero deaths, this was one where I honestly felt he got what he deserved. He was an idiot. Furthermore, for all the subversion of standard tropes and storytelling this series tried to accomplish, it leaned RIGHT into the Arthurian legend with both Gawyn and Galad. Very unoriginal and I didn’t enjoy it. I also couldn’t help but feel aggravated that they brought him back just to build up some feeling for him when he throws his life away like a prideful moron.

Galad

Galad had a much more satisfying battle using one of the Foxhead copies, prowling about the Sharan channelers and killing them. I enjoyed the comment of the other Whitecloak and how giddy he was to be killing channelers. Something to the tune of, “this is what we were born to do!” Then Galad begins to realize how much work he must do to change the world he’s gotten himself into. He loses his arm to Demandred. One of three failures to kill the man, then spends the rest of his time being nursed by his pretty love interest. Not a great ending, but also fitting enough for his character.

Nynaeve & Lan

Nynaeve’s spent most of this book in the bore with Moraine supporting Rand as he fights the Dark One. She had some small exchanges with others in the epilogue, but nothing to really write about. Likely her largest contribution was to sew Allana back together enough to allow her to release Rand from the bond, so he didn’t go crazy. Not a great ending for one of the biggest characters in the series.

Lan, on the other hand, was incredible. He spends a large amount of time fighting back in losing battles and doing what he can to keep the side of light afloat, but his shining moment was taking out Demandred. After Gawyn, Galad, and Logain failed Lan stepped in, sheathed the sword, and stabbed Demandred right in the neck. That scene was great. Not sure totally how I feel about him living to the end. In many respects this story was damned from the start. If he dies, it feels predictable. If he lives, it feels cliched. I don’t know that there was a way to win.

Moraine & Thom

Moraine made her grand entrance and stopped Egwene from trying to hold Rand back. All she does it quote the prophecy that the white tower should have known well… and Egwene more or less gives up immediately. Which makes her initial resistance even more ridiculous. Moraine then goes back to being Rand’s advisor and follows him and Nynaeve into the bore. It was good to have her back, but she also spent a large amount of the book paralyzed as Rand fought the Dark One.

Thom goes along with the above group to the bore… and sits on a rock to compose the ballad of the battle. He knifes some Black Ajah trying to pretend to be Cadsuane while sitting on his rock. Not much of out Thom in this book.

Min

Min’s main contribution in this book is to become Tuon’s Truthspeaker. I did not see this coming, and I didn’t like it when it arrived. My feelings about Tuon and Seanchan having been stated previously, I’ll leave you to figure out why I didn’t like it. What is more frustrating about this is that, as the story ends, this will now be her future as well. All in all, as bad as they could have ended her story for me. She does intercede in some pivotal places in her new position, but I was too angry that they put another character I liked with a character I hated to care.

Aviendha

Aviendha goes about being a ninja in the beginning, sneaking up on people. She has her love scene with Rand to get herself pregnant as well (assumedly). Then she goes with the Aiel to fight in Thakandar (protecting Rand while he fights the Dark One). Her main contribution is to find and, eventually, best Graendal. It takes everything she’s got, and she gets torn up quite a bit to pull it off, but eventually brings back her ‘unravelling the weave’ trick on a gateway (causing it to explode) and Graendal’s compulsion weave backfires on her and she is now Aviendha’s servant. She is forced to kill Ruark because Graendal had him under compulsion, which was sad, but the moment Graendal took him he was dead. For me, the actual killing was far less sad. That was compassion more than anything.

Elayne

Elayne was elected as the main battle leader for the entire last battle. This was, quite possibly, one of the worst narrative decisions in the series. It made me laugh as they spoke of her wisdom and tactics. This was the story needing to do something important with her and it could not have been a worse decision. Thankfully, as anyone who has paid attention to the series knew long before it happens, this was just a setup for Mat to take over. My favorite Elayne line was when she was speaking to Perrin about going to the Black Tower and he tells her to be careful… to which she off handedly responds, “I’m always careful.”  Oh my. Close second was Cadsuane’s line to Rand when she’s talking about him embracing death and he states that Elayne said something similar, to which Cadsuane responds, “Then she has spoken wisdom at least once in her life.” Dead. On.

Birgitte is beheaded towards the end of the story, which was quite brutal, but then very predictably returns when the horn is blown. What makes the scene even more annoying is that she is murdered by the throw away mercenary who headed up Elayne’s assassination attempt several books back. The cardboard cutout “I want to rape you princess” bad guy that she should have beheaded the moment she captured him. Another of Elayne’s stupid decisions… that she ultimately doesn’t pay for because when he’s about to cut her “babes” (PS: I grew tired of reading that word) out, horn Birgitte shows up and pops him full of arrows (finally).

Egwene

Egwene and her arguments, as was eluded to earlier, fold like a house of cards when Moraine shows up. After that she is off doing battle. She is quite powerful and does more than her share of damage before Gawyn pulls his stupid stunt. Then she goes a bit crazy, as the bond dictates, and basically decides she’s going to fight till she drops. She faces off with Taim and comes up with a weave to counter balefire. It should be noted that an element was introduced, perhaps in the previous book, about cracks in the earth that were bottomless caverns purported to be the result of using balefire. These cracks were meant to be breaks in the pattern, as balefire violates the essential rules of the pattern itself. So, Egwene’s weave (the Flame of Tar Valon I think it was called) is meant to be the counterbalance to balefire. Taim launches his balefire (aided by Demandred’s sa’angreal) and Egwene launches her new weave… the meet in the middle (a’ la so many other magic books or films when the two master magicians launch spells simultaneously) and it becomes a battle of wills. Egwene wins, turning Taim to crystal, then she heals all the cracks and turns all the other Sharan channelers to crystal, the strain of which kills her. Considering the sheer amount of threat she took down with that single move, she went out well.

Perrin & Faile

I’ll deal with Faile first. She did not do much in the book as far as I’m concerned. I knew the horn wasn’t going to get to Mat, and her whole job was to accomplish this feat. Of course the woman who pledged to her back in the Shaido camp was a dark friend, and of course she betrayed them at the worst possible moment, and of course Faile was able to hit her with a throwing knife just as she rode off on her horse. Then she gives the horn to Olver and rides off to distract the Trollocs. Again, having seen this coming, none of this created any tension for me. In the end she is trapped under some dead Trollocs, injured and dying, and the nose finds her. Very vanilla.

Perrin’s story was exciting in parts, but entirely too long at the outset, and the completely put on the back burner for a huge chunk of time. He helps get the dreamspike out of the black tower with Lanfear’s help, which, again, any half-conscious reader knew where this was going. She is never going to be anything other than what she is, so there’s a game here. He takes the spike to where Rand is and puts it down so no one can travel into or too near the bore. Then his battle with Slayer takes nearly the entire book. He loses at first, then takes a nap for a huge chunk of time, and his old blacksmith teacher tells him he’s holding back, so he goes back in and smashes Slayer’s face in. Perrin ends the story quite powerful, but I felt the Slayer battle took far too long and there was much too large of an interval where he’s just sleeping one off. The part I loved though was at the end when Olver blows the horn near Shayol Ghul and the spirits of the wolves all come back and take on the Wild Hunt. That was awesome.

Mat

Mat was still cracking jokes and being Mat. He is turned into Tuon’s second in military command, which eventually turns into first in command (as anyone could have guessed). He figures out that something is wrong with Bryne (though Mat’s argument was that Bryne was a dark friend… not true, but close). Then he takes over marshalling the battle. A lot of his story then became a mixture of talking about his tactics and him cracking inappropriate jokes, sometimes at the perfect moment, and sometimes at poor moments. He gets into the thick of the fight a few times, which was fun to read, but he spends most of the war in the back organizing it. His big finale is a ??fight?? with Mashadar/Mordeth/Padan Fain. The shadow thing stabs him with his shadows, but Mat is apparently immune now (as he describes it like one would describe chicken pox). Mat takes the dagger of early book fame and stabs it into the heart of the creature, which apparently kills it. This ending is divisive for me. I like the full circle aspect, but I hate that this character loomed in the background of the story for so long only to end in such a blasé manner. It doesn’t show up until the very end of the book and is ended by Mat almost as soon as it got going. The reader is meant to feel panic when the shadow thing stabs Mat in the heart, but it’s easy to see where it will go after that. Then it does. All in all, I liked that Mat had his revenge, but I feel that Mordeth/Fain was vastly underused through far too much of the series only to be brought back and dispatched quickly (and rather easily).

Rand

The first thing to discuss with Rand must be the Dragon’s Peace. I did not enjoy the addition of this to the story because it’s ultimately pointless. Aiel enforcers or not, the obvious flaw is that Tuon stated it’s just a piece of paper and the Aiel already said they would not battle the Seanchan. So, this was a waste of reading time. I get that Rand wanted to create “peace” instead of “breaking” this time. Nevertheless, his whole “sign this treaty and no more land grabbing” was more comical to me. In a series that focused on the impossibility of rallying these nations to even fight the ultimate evil, however traumatizing the battle may end up being, with the dragon gone and the Dark One locked up, it’s not going to take these people five seconds to get right back at it. I honestly would be surprised if Elayne doesn’t find a way to beat the Seanchan to the punch. However ‘intimidating’ the Aiel may be to some as the lands new form of marshal law, forcing them to sign this is moronic for the simple reason that they signed it under duress and with little time to consider. They did not choose this peace willingly; they chose it because they had no other choice if they wanted to confront the immediate threat. What happens when the threat is gone? They will violate that peace happily because he cannot undo what he did, and the acts of violation are obviously in all their natures.

He also must go to the Seanchan to get them to sign. He pulls his Jesus act on Tuon and intimidates her enough to sign, but allows her to keep all the women she has collared so far. Eventually Egwene and Tuon have an argument about this as well and come to an agreement about letting people choose to be collared and allowing Tuon to send out “priests” to talk about the joys of being collared. All this back and forth was disappointing for me as a reader because I felt like it was an intentionally distasteful aspect that the novel chose to leave as a sign of how imperfect ‘peace’ truly is, and the cost one often has to pay to achieve it. A fine sentiment, but this entire storyline was poorly handled in my opinion.

Beyond that, he spends time with his father learning to fight with the sword one handed, because this will obviously be needed later, and giving goodbye gifts to people. He pops in and out of battle at times, and finally ends up in the cave fighting Moridin first, then the Dark One, the Moridin again. The fight with Moridin was just another sword fight at first, and the ‘battle’ with the Dark One involved Rand and Shaitan showing each other visions of their ideal futures. This was quite boring, to be honest. In the end, what the novel used this for was to illustrate that the Dark One was not simply a destroyer, but the embodiment of the dark side of human nature. If Rand were to destroy that than people would cease to have a conception of evil and become twisted in a different way. The argument follows the logic of, if you never knew sadness could you ever truly appreciate happiness? So, Rand cannot kill the Dark One in the end, but does have to just put him back in his prison. He builds a better lock this time, so there is that. Also, why do all evil overlords always have to speak in capital letters? It made him feel like a moron going bonkers about his patriotism on Twitter.

Allana did turn out to be sort of a thing, as Moridin planned to kill her to make Rand insane with bond severing lunacy. Nynaeve sews her up and she releases his bond just in time. However, this brings up another ludicrous point they glossed over. Rand was bonded to three other women before going into the bore… did they not consider what that would do to him if, in the middle of the fight, one of them died, which is completely reasonable given the circumstances. Or perhaps all three of them? This was meant to raise tension, but ultimately it only really raised more questions the story ignored.

In the end, Rand gets Moridin’s face from the woman who was meant to “help him die” and he rides off in the sunset to live a life of hum drum, thinking of his three women and giggling about which one will follow him. They were avoiding the full Jesus “savior dies for us” cliché and walked right into a different kind of lame.


The End


Overall, this final book was very mixed. There were far too many things to tie down and many were so hastily and offhandedly done that one cannot help but feel disappointed. Some were quite enjoyable to read and I do appreciate the concept behind the true nature of the Dark One. Considering how overly ambitious this series was in scope and theme I feel this ending may have been nearly as good as one could hope, though I cannot help but admit that I was as let down by it as I was impressed. However, I feel this is due in large part to how grand the story aimed to be. As many have argued, as the grandeur of the prize increases, so grows the odds of failure. I think this series succeeded in many ways, but it makes the points where it fell short stand out even more for me.

Sayonara, Wheel of Time. In the words of Guy Pearce’s Mondego, “you pleased me some of the time.”

3 thoughts on “Book Review: Wheel of Time, Book 14: A Memory of Light

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