Wheel stops turning
This month saw the release of the 14 th and final instalment in Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series. The much-anticipated book, A Memory of Light , comes nearly 22 years after the first, The Eye of the World , quickly rose up the ranks to become an international bestseller.
After his death in 2007, Jordan left instructions on how the series should be finished. His wife and editor, Harriet McDougal, selected fellow American author Brandon Sanderson to complete her husband's magnum opus.
The characters in A Memory of Light will be familiar to Jordan fans. The book throws us into the thick of The Last Battle, the final confrontation between the servants of the Light and the Dark One. The series' protagonist, a battered and bruised Rand al'Thor, concludes his tumultuous journey from sheep herder to hero of the Light.
The narrative is neatly divided into two broad story arcs: Rand's struggle with the Dark One alternates with the rest of the cast's attempts to survive the battlefield. Disappointingly, there's too little of the former, and too much of the latter. The final struggle between the paragon of good and the embodiment of evil barely makes up a 10th of the book.
Jordan, and later Sanderson, spent the bulk of the series portraying the Dark One in the vaguest of ways, a sinister evil imprisoned outside of the fabric of time. Fans will feel justly let down that there's no "big reveal".
On the other hand, those who like fast-paced battle scenes will not be disappointed. Sanderson has proven in his solo work that he can write believable carnage, and he does a stellar job with the tools left to him by Jordan. Together, they take you through the spectrum of soldiers' emotions, from the grim determination of a fresh soldier to the sheer terror of a broken regiment.
It also does not hurt that the enemy has seemingly endless creatures to throw into battle, fought on many fronts - or that after 14 books all alliances are still fragile. The sheer number of plotlines tied off in A Memory of Light is incredibly satisfying, with almost every major question answered.
Then there's the plot twist at the end, which speaks to Jordan's skill as an author. Very few Wheel of Time fans will have picked up the thread, throughout the books, that leads to such a surprise.
There is something to be said for the journey a work of this magnitude can take a reader on. In the series, the author creates a believable fantasy world in which all our imaginations can roam free. With its conclusion, fans mourn the loss of friends and enemies alike, and a home away from home.
- A Memory of Light is available at Exclusive Books for R246