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Reflections on A Memory of Light

Editor’s Note: This article DOES NOT contain any spoilers.

And so it ends.

A Memory of Light (cover)Twenty-two years and over four million words later, I’ve finished A Memory of Light. The 14th and final book in Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series was everything I hoped it would be. And perhaps even a bit more.

I hesitate to call this a review because, frankly, there’s no way I can be objective about the book or the series. I’ve written at length about The Wheel of Time and the special place it holds in my heart. And now that it is over, giving it a star rating or a “read” or “don’t read” seems a bit, well, stupid. Of course I think you should read it. And of course I loved it. It was the culmination of 22 years of reading and re-reading and reading again. It was the payoff. You want a rating? Here’s your rating: I give A Memory of Light all the stars.

Discussing the book is tough to do without spoiling major plot points. And I don’t want to spoil anything here. Suffice it to say that Sanderson and Jordan tie up nearly every loose end and provide answers to the questions WoT fans have been asking for years. A Memory of Light rewards loyal readers in spades.

I, for one, am happy about that fact.

So often, series are finished but the story is left unresolved. That is not the case with The Wheel of Time. In A Memory of Light, the major conflicts in the series are, in fact, resolved. The story of Rand, Matt, Perrin and The Last Battle ends. Since finishing the book, I’ve read a few of the reaction pieces and reviews that were posted when the book came out earlier this year and was a bit surprised that some readers disagreed with my assessment. Certainly, I’m not claiming my take on the book is gospel, but I couldn’t help but be satisfied by what Sanderson and Jordan gave us at the end.

Finishing A Memory of Light, and the WoT, was as bittersweet as I thought it would be. Sanderson and Jordan did not let readers off easy, and the book took a very real emotional toll. Certain stretches were so difficult to read that I had to put the book down and walk away, while other scenes gave rise to those oh-so-rare feelings of pure elation and triumph. Often in the same chapter.

A Memory of Light (UK cover)Somehow, Sanderson and Jordan crafted a book that succeeded in breaking down the wall between reader and writer. Forgive the (nerdy) pun, but A Memory of Light feels more like the work of authors channeling their characters than it does authors telling a story. The book unfolds at its own pace—sometimes kinetic, other times languid. It is disjointed in spots and in others proceeds with surgical focus, never feeling forced.

In the weeks that have passed since I finished the book, I’ve never once been sad that it is over. In fact, much to my surprise, I find myself looking forward to the day when I will once again read the whole thing. No more waiting for the next chapter, the next volume. The story is finished and it exists for us to return to. It is, for lack of a better term, comfort food. Something safe, warm and rife with memories and undiscovered minutiae. There’s something special about reading a series and asking, “Why did that happen?” as opposed to driving yourself nuts wondering what happens next.

I remember precisely where I was when I started The Eye of the World. And I remember precisely where I was when I finished A Memory of Light 22 years later. At my desk. In the one room in the house that is mine. Sure, the houses are different. The desks aren’t the same. I’m not the same. But the two versions of me, and all the iterations in between, are connected. These fourteen books—fourteen magical, frustrating, unforgettable books—form a chain, a tether; one spanning three decades, two desks, one story, and one grateful reader.

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3 Comments

  1. Avatar Randy Word says:

    Great “review”! I couldn’t agree more!

  2. Avatar Mike Gapen says:

    I started the WoT all those years ago; a young man in his 20s looking for a good read. Reading your “review” is the first piece I’ve read that shared my very feeling upon finishing AMoL. Well said, Zack.

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