The Wheel of Time series is, by any measure, a fantasy epic. The first novel in the series, The Eye of the World, was published in January of 1990 and expanded to include 14 books over 23 years. The series has been incredibly complex and engrossing and with A Memory of Light it has finally come to a thorough and meaningful conclusion.
Robert Jordan originated the series and wrote the first eleven books before passing away from a heart ailment. He knew that he might not live to complete the series, so he recruited another noted fantasy author, Brandon Sanderson to help him finish The Wheel of Time. Jordan had the end of the story fairly well sketched out and used Sanderson to flesh out the books and complete the narrative. You can see Sanderson’s hand in the writing, and I think it has helped elevate the material over the last 3 books. The novels of the Wheel of Time have featured hundreds of characters in dozens of cities and locales with incredibly nuanced and interwoven plotlines. This has caused some of the books in the series to seem overly dense, whereas with the introduction of Brandon Sanderson, there has been a little more elegance and balanced flow to the writing.
A Memory of Light is ostensibly a book about the battle between the Light and the Dark for the future of the world. Dozens of storylines are resolved and thousands upon thousands of people die in a cataclysmic battle that is divided into four fronts. It is packed with military strategy and theological questions about the true nature of good and evil, and whether one can exist without the other. Robert Jordan is not sentimental about many of the characters he has been writing for over two decades, and a lot of them don’t survive this final installment.
My favorite part of this book is that it features my favorite character of the entire series, Mat Cauthon. Cauthon is the most fun and colorful character in these books and he had been given short shrift in the last few Wheel of Timenovels. I was thrilled to see him as a central figure in A Memory of Light. If you have been as invested in this series as I have, I think you will find A Memory of Light to be a satisfying end to an incredible story. Even though you may think you have the ending figured out, it manages to avoid predictability without using unnecessary twists or gimmicky plot devices. It is just good, thoughtful storytelling from beginning to end. If you are a fan of the fantasy genre and you haven’t read A Wheel of Time, then I would strongly suggest you do so, as it is an essential fantasy work that will stand alongside the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Belgariad, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter and more recently, A Song of Ice and Fire. It will take time, but it is well worth it.
Macmillan Audio has graciously offered our readers a sample chapter of the audio book of A Memory of Light read by the very talented Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. Enjoy!