Initial Reflections on A Memory of Light

Spoiler Check: I have completed A Memory of Light (Book 14 of the Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Books Ash Silverlock wrote a hard-hitting review of A Memory of Light in his Fabulous Realms blog. It is maybe the best and most to the point review of the book I have so far read.

My comment on his review constitutes an early mini-review of my own. It reads:

“You have zeroed in on the failings of AMoL, although I think you may have been a tad too negative.

I mostly enjoyed the book, even if I was feeling a bit battle fatigued by the end, and my feelings on listening to the final seconds (I read it on Audible) were that it had brought the series to a decent and appropriate ending.

As is often the case, the misgivings started to surface later, after some reflection. For the most part my grumbles echo yours. In fairness to Brandon Sanderson, he had the challenging task of reining in that ever sprawling jungle of plot threads and loose ends Jordan had bequeathed him, while constrained by Jordan’s now sacrosanct remaining notes, outlines and sections of finished prose. I’m guessing Jordan’s death protected his surviving text from the editing process in a way that would not have happened had he lived. I appreciate Sanderson had three large tomes to work within, but his “loose ends to be tied up” list must have been daunting and it was inevitable he would be forced into some ugly tricks to get them all crossed off by the end, if indeed he managed to nail them all.

The Egwene arc in particular shocked me. It’s not that her death was not in some way fitting or suitably heroic. It’s just that it was her heart-warming rise to power, from Wisdom’s apprentice in backwater village, to the youngest and noblest Amyrlin in White Tower history, that kept me following the series through its baggiest and most tedious phase. I had looked forward to re-reading the whole series again, from TEoTW, but the Egwene arc is now forever soured for me, knowing she doesn’t make it through. Nor do I think she is properly mourned in the book. Rand, Mat et al all had their “No, not Egwene!” moments in the immediate aftermath but she is then forgotten, almost callously.

I suspect the trouble is that Jordan’s coda, which became the Epilogue to AMoL, focused on Rand’s devious escape and none of the characters were talking or thinking about Egwene (unless you count selection of her successor), and Sanderson of course couldn’t change it. Egwene’s death itself was no doubt pre-ordained by Jordan and there was no point in the narrative to squeeze in a moment of due collective grief. Sanderson’s hands were tied in a way that Jordan’s would not have been had he survived to be involved in the final editing process.”

Actually, there is no doubt at all that Egwene’s demise was an integral part of Jordan’s outline, since the Epilogue (which we know Jordan wrote) includes the scene where Cadsuane gets tapped up as the new Amyrlin.


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