Spoiler Check: I am part way through Chapter 33 of A Memory of Light (Book 14 of the Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
In general, I do my audiobook reading in the gaps between podcasts. I listen to quite a number of the latter so my Audible books tend to get most airtime over weekends and in the early part of the week. A lot of the longer podcasts seem to come out on Thursdays and Fridays so there tends to be a backlog towards the end of the week.
The normal weekly cycle doesn’t however begin to compare with the podcast backlog I have right now on Doggcatcher. Some 50 podcasts, equivalent to something like 20 hours of listening time (at 1.5 x speed). This has come about because of the release of A Memory of Light, the final book in the long-running Wheel of Time series, on 8 January. I decided I was going to enjoy AMoL and focus on it, rather than allow the experience to be fragmented and drawn out by sharing my available listening time with podcasts. So the podcasts are all on hold and piling up royally. They can wait. When I have done with AMoL I will catch up with them before restarting audiobook consumption.
I often listen to audiobooks with the narration speed dialled up to 1.25 x or 1.5 x. Not this time. I am well and truly into WoT, even though I came to the series late, and fully intend to savour AMoL. So far I am 26.5 hours in, at normal speed, with 15.25 to go. And I am loving it. Sanderson has done very well with it so far. There is a good mix of battles, character interactions and tension-generating plot twists (theft of the seals, Gawyn activating the Bloodknife ring, etc). He switches character viewpoint often enough to give all the plot threads enough air, but not so often as to make the reader dizzy. He has this very well judged. And he keeps dropping in some excellent pay-offs. The appearance of Moiraine at the Dragon’s Peace negotiations on the Field of Merrilor was well handled. I also enjoyed Egwene giving Fortuona a piece of her mind. And I am finally enjoying Mat as a character. Sanderson actively plays him for laughs, more than Jordan ever did, and for the most part it comes off delightfully. Mat and Rand’s one-upmanship competition in the garden of the Tarasin Palace was particularly memorable.
I had expected Rand’s descent into Shayol Ghul to come right at the end of the book, as the final climax, so was surprised when he entered the cave less than halfway through. But Sanderson was being cute about this. He has had time move much more slowly in Shayol Ghul than in the rest of the world, so we get snippets of Rand’s progress there interspersed with events in the wider Last Battle which span weeks. This gives the book a far better balance than back-loading the Rand vs Moridin/Dark One thread.
I know things will get darker before the end, and we are probably going to be seeing the ultimate sacrifice from some major characters, but so far the book has more than lived up to expectations.
I have pretty much avoided spoilers and will continue to take care to do so. That was part of the rationale for reading on without interruption.