“And the Shadow fell upon the land, and the world was riven stone from stone. The oceans fled, and the mountains were swallowed up, and the nations were scattered to the eight corners of the World. The moon was as blood, and the sun was as ashes. The seas boiled, and the living envied the dead. All was shattered, and all but memory lost, and one memory above all others, of him who brought the Shadow and the Breaking of the World. And him they named Dragon.”-Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light
At a whopping 364,597 words and 1005 pages (by my copy), A Memory of Light is one of the largest works in Jordan’s best-selling fantasy series, the Wheel of Time.
And it should be! At 4.4 million words and 2,782 named characters, it’s only fitting for this sprawling series to be climaxed by a behemoth.
Is it worth it?
YES! Definitely! At the end of the series as I am, I can now finally say that I am so glad I picked up The Eye of the World and pushed through to the end. It was hard at times, but oh, was it worth it!
Of course, similar to the series as a whole, there were many things I didn’t like contained in these final pages, one of which was the breakneck speed of the entire book. We’d experienced something similar in the previous two, but not so much as A Memory of Light.
Seriously, I don’t remember there being a single chapter without numerous PoV’s. I was finding it pretty hard to keep track and stay focused on one storyline at a time.
Also, it all felt pretty much like one big battle. Don’t get me wrong. When done well, battles are great, but a whole BOOK being one; that’s not quite up my alley.
That being said, let me say one thing:
Brandon Sanderson knows how to flippin FINISH a series. I’m honestly in awe of how he managed to pull in all the loose threads and finish it in such a satisfying way.
Anway . . .
I’ve got so much I want to say. I’ll try to reign it in as much as possible, but this is gonna be a long one.
Buckle your seatbelts, folks. You’re in for a ride . . .
It’s Tarmon Gai’don time!
“Knock a man down, and you saw what he was made of. That man might run. If he didn’t—if he stood back up with blood at the corner of his mouth and determination in his eyes—then you knew. That man was about to become truly dangerous.”-Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light
As always, we got a typical Wheel of Time prologue. By that, I mean BIG. However, it deviated from the other prologues by starting with a BANG. A BIG BANG.
Literally. Those Dragons were going crazy.
The whole battle of Caemlyn with Talmanes and the Band defending Caemlyn and Talmanes being a beast. Killing two Myrddraal as a normal soldier, taking a hit by a Thakan’dar blade and hanging on long enough to rally all the soldiers?
Then Nynaeve Heals him. I love her for that, but in a way I feel like it would have been a more fitting end for him to die after the battle of Caemlyn.
I also loved seeing Slayer in that town in Thakan’dar and getting a glimpse into his past. Oh, and the Samma N’Sei! I’d wondered what happened to all the male Aiel channelers. That was so cool. Well, not what happened to them, but . . .
You know what I mean.
Mazrim Taim becoming Chosen was something I think everyone saw coming. It’s weird how few of the Forsaken are left now for this final book. Moridin, Taim, Cyndane aka Lanfear, Hessalam aka Graendal, Moghedian and Demandred. In fact, everything with the Forsaken in A Memory of Light was amazing. I mean, it usually is, but it was even more so.
I loved all of Rand’s chats with Moridin and Lanfear in his Dreamshards. Rand’s zen-like confidence with Moridin and his more human nature coming out around Lanfear (as always) and Rand finally letting her go.
Man. Rand+Lanfear=Perfection. Always.
I absolutely LOVED Rand’s conference with the world’s leaders and his face-to-face with Egwene. Such a weighty scene. And then Moiraine returns. Bam. Rand’s reaction was so beautiful. In general his and Moiraine’s friendship is definitely one of my favourites in the series.
And he created some new trees. Big ones. The Ogier will be proud.
Lan’s final charge and the Borderlanders coming out of nowhere to support them was a chill-worthy moment. I also respected Lan cheering the Borderlanders and honouring the dead. A very touching moment, that was.
“Being polite to a person is not a sign of respect for them. It is merely a sign of a good upbringing and a balanced nature.”-Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light
The section of the book that I felt dragged the most was the 4 great armies’ battles section. It had some wonderful moments, but overall I actually remember taking much longer to get through it than the rest, and I don’t remember being as captivated as I was with the battle at the Field of Merrilor.
One of the first points I want to mention was Rand sparring with Tam. That scene was one of my favourite in the entire book; his relationship with his father, learning to let go, and getting some solid exercise were all so captivating to read.
Tam’s the GOAT.
From Agelmar and the battle in Sheinar section, I recall really enjoying Lan killing those two Fades, and Lan just in general. That guy’s insane. Also, Lan stopping Agelmar from committing seppuku was so powerful.
‘“You are a soldier!” Lan bellowed. “Act like one!”’
I will say that the whole ‘All the Great Captains being under compulsion” subplot was so enthralling. I noticed something was off, and Graendal in invading their dreams was pretty suspicious, but to see it all start to come together was frightening but awesome.
Speaking of which, Elayne denouncing Bashere as a Darkfriend was super shocking. Obviously, now we know it was just compulsion, but at the time, I was like “What?!! After all this time??”
Ituralde figuring it out himself and letting Elyas jump him was pretty amazing, and Mat figuring out Bryne was so cool. The speed at which he deduced it, as well.
Son of Battles, indeed.
Actually, that was another part that made the middle section bearable. Mat. Everything with Mat. Literally everything. There’s too much to talk about, so I’ll try and keep to the best of the best.
Mat saving Tuon’s life and his bragging contest with Rand. The first was actually downright husbandly of him, and I love how she looked over her shoulder when she saw it was him. Those two actually fit together really well and even though I hate Tuon as a person, I really appreciate her character and the balance she brings to Mat.
The second was just hilarious, and really provided a moment of much-needed levity in an otherwise HEAVY book. And Mat finishing by mentioning how he saved Moiraine.
Come to think of it, who has accomplished more?
Although it would have been even funnier if Nynaeve had shown up and knocked them both down with all of her achievements.
The following scene, where Rand bows to Tuon and negotiates a treaty, was beautiful. I loved the imagery, and the friendship dynamic between Mat and Rand, although I’m still steaming that Rand allowed her to keep damane.
Steaming like a kettle over a volcano. Speaking of volcanoes . . .
Where am I going with that one? Oh, yeah. Androl and Logain’s Asha’man turning up to save the day at Cairhien was so epic. And Androl’s genius gateways. Into Dragonmount itself?
That was fire.
Ha. See what I did there?
I also loved everything with Mat helping Egwene’s army, where he fights personally at the ford. It reminded me of Cairhien, where he inspires the other officers and soldiers, using his ta’veren nature, his battle genius, and his foxhead medallion to wreak havoc to the enemy lines. Then he becomes the ultimate leader of the Seanchan armies. Then the ultimate leader over the whole forces of the Light.
Hhmm. Didn’t see that one coming.
Also regarding Egwene’s battle, Rand rocking up and realising the seals were fake, was pretty exciting, and Demandred and the Sharan’s intro has got to be one of the most INSANE intros ever.
So that’s what he’s been up to.
Special mention: the Ogier in battle. Let me say one thing. I’m glad they’re on our side.
“All men are ignorant, Aes Sedai. The topics of our ignorance may change, but the nature of the world is that no man may know everything.”
Androl and the Black Tower conflict was another part of the book that really gripped me. Some of my favourite moments include Androl and Pevara bonding each other (What?!) and Androl getting captured as he tried to rescue Logain. Also, when the Dreamspike is taking down and Androl weaves a tiny Gateway to redirect BALEFIRE.
Wow. Talk about using what you’ve got. That man and his Gateways. Androl and Pevara’s relationship is another of my favourites. They make such an interesting combo.
On the other side of the Black Tower plotline, we had Perrin in Tel’aran’rhiod. Perrin was another character who really popped off in A Memory of Light.
I loved his final speech to his people and his chat with Rand. His friendship with Gaul is so great and Gaul’s willingness to travel to the World of Dreams to watch Perrin’s back?
What a friend.
Perrin meeting Lanfear in the dream was interesting (I really don’t know what to make of her) and his fights with Graendal were so cool. He really is super competent in Tel’aran’rhiod now, isn’t he?
If his fights with Graendal were cool, his fights with Slayer were ice. Their. Fights. Slap.
So does Perrin’s hammer. But not hard enough, it seems. I’ll discuss their final fight soon.
“You’re welcome in my house when this is over. We’ll open a cask of Master al’Vere’s best brandy. We’ll remember those who fell, and we’ll tell our children how we stood when the clouds turned black and the world started to die. We’ll tell them we stood shoulder to shoulder, and there was just no space for the Shadow to squeeze through.”-Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light
The final battle was everything I’d hoped for and more. Similar to the rest of what I’ve already mentioned in my review, I could spend days talking about every little thing I loved (and I have actually mentioned more than I was planning on, but there you go), so I’ll try my best to keep things tight.
Mat’s battle GENIUS was so fascinating to
watch read. You can tell he’s at his limit. I loved his utilisation of all his resources: Hinderstap town’s army, Gateways with Dragons, and the subtle manoeuvrings of every little piece.
Also, Mat’s subtle reminder of who beat who with the quarterstaff in his message to Galad was so typical of Mat. At the rate he’s going, he needs to be careful he doesn’t insult the entire Andoran nobe family by letters.
Demandred. Maybe my favourite of the Forsaken, if just due to his part in A Memory of Light. His position within the Sharan’s, his battle GENIUS to rival Mat’s, and his absolutely superior swordsmanship weren’t even all that made him so good.
Each of his duels were some of the highlights of the book. Firstly with Gawyn (where Gawyn is boosted by Night Shade) and Gawyn’s final charge with the rings, ”a chance to finally do something good”, and his final words and death.
I still am not a huge fan of Gawyn, but some of his actions in A Memory of Light massively redeemed him. Also, his death was one of the most emotional ones, with Galad quietly talking with him, and cradling his dead body.
Speaking of Galad, Demandred’s second fight was also fantastic, where Galad managed to score a hit. I kind of wish Galad had stayed dead, though. I think it would have been more fitting.
Logain fighting Demandred had a different dynamic, as it was a channeling duel instead. The speed, the different weaves; it was all so enthralling. Logain didn’t stand a chance, though. He’s good (he’s really good), but not that good.
Lan vs Demandred was everything I’d dreamed. It was soo satisfying to finally see Demandred’s smug face shocked by Lan’s raw skill and passion. And that finishing touch, where Lan whispers his plan as he delivers the final blow . . .
‘Demandred blocked Lan’s attack but he breathed hoarsely. “Who are you?” Demandred whispered again. “No one of this Age has such skill. Asmodean? No, no. He couldn’t have fought me like this. Lews Therin? It is you behind that face, isn’t it?”
“I am just a man,” Lan whispered. “That is all I have ever been.”’-Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light
Faile’s arc in the blight was something I hadn’t expected. It was awesome to see a bit more into what it’s like in the Blight.
It’s not my top holiday destination, I’ll tell you that.
Other parts with Faile’s company I loved was Olver killing the lady in white, Bela proving her mettle and dying (I know, apparently she still lives. It was still one of the saddest ‘deaths’), and Olver blowing the Horn and Noal coming back for him.
In terms of deaths, Siuan’s hit like a truck. I know they’re in a war, but it felt way too abrupt and offscreen, like one minute she’s here then the next you turn around and . . . BAM. A massive character we’ve come to love and respect is just gone.
One of my other main drawbacks from A Memory of Light is how few main characters died. Sure we had a few bigger ones (Egwene especially), and a lot of minor/pretty well known ones die (Bryne, Bashere, Gawyn, etc.), and Mat technically died, but I definitely think there should have been more.
Egwene’s death, though. That one hit HARD, but in such a spectacular way. When she realised Gawyn was dead, then Bonded Leilwyn in a moment of surprising clarity, and finally faced off against Taim in a final showdown. What an amazing way to go. Taking down Taim and the majority of the enemy channelers, creating the antithesis of BALEFIRE, and having her grave marked by a column of light as thick as an oak.
What a way to go. Sure, it was emotional, but it was also fitting and oh, so satisfying. Egwene was also a character I had . . . conflicting feelings about, so it didn’t hurt me in the same way that Perrin or Mat dying would have.
Two other moments that stood out in the final battle was Lan showing respect to Tam and Logain deciding to save the helpless people over the power.
Oh and before I forget, the final stand of the Trollocs was a thing of songs and legends. What should we name the final survivors?
Borg the Brave? Mungo the Mighty?
Oh yeah, and Birgitte’s death and appearing again when the Horn was blown was shocking, sure, but also so fitting. Finally, she can see Gaidal again. While I’m talking about Elayne’s side of things, I have to mention that absolutely hilarious moment between the two, where Elayne tries to wield a sword and Birgitte laughs at her.
“How would you feel,” Elayne said softly, “if you saw your queen trying to kill a Trolloc with a sword as you ran away?”
“I’d feel like I needed to […] move to another country,” Birgitte snapped, loosing another arrow, “one where the monarchs don’t have pudding for brains.”
On the other half of the battle (at Thakan’dar), I really enjoyed all the clashes between Aviendha and Graendal, and how that one ended. Perrin’s final fight with Slayer was another so cathartic. In. Out. In. Out. Shake it all-
Sorry. This is serious stuff.
Perrin snapping Lanfear’s neck was so brutal, but honestly I can’t think of a better end for that minx. I feel like Sanderson had kind of toyed with us, making us think she was having a redemption arc, before slapping us in the face with that?
Also, I hadn’t realised how much I needed to see Mat ride a Raken with Olver until I did. It didn’t disappoint.
Regarding Mat, a lot of people seem unsatisfied by Fain’s ending. To me he was always a comical character. Awful, but comical. So I thought his end was perfect. Especially at the hands of the dagger’s previous owner.
“The corpse’s hand reached up and grabbed Shaisam by the throat. He gasped, thrashing, as the corpse opened its eye.
“There’s an odd thing about disease I once heard, Fain,” Matrim Cauthon whispered. “Once you catch a disease and survive, you can’t get it again.”-Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light
The final thing I want to mention (and it is the final thing. I hope) was Rand vs the Dark One.
I really enjoyed Rand’s fight and dialogue with Moridin, and Nynaeve finding and trying to heal Alanna. Then when Rand touches the Shadow, and things get real, FAST.
Everything in that place outside of time and space was brilliant. Rand and the Dark One struggling for dominance. Well, more like Rand trying not to collapse under the Dark One’s attack.
A dark reality of the future of Emond’s Field. A light reality of the future of Emond’s Field. And in Caemlyn, where there is no good or bad, just HIM. Then Rand creating just a purely GOOD Caemlyn and his horror at his making.
Light, what did I just witness?
Then the cream of the crop, where Rand watches all his friends dying and sacrificing-Bashere, Hurin etc-was one of the most hard-hitting scenes of them all. That followed by Rand’s terrible pain and guilt, and finally LETTING GO.
“Here is your flaw, Shaitan, Lord of the Dark, Lord of Envy, Lord of Nothing, here is why you fail. It was not about me. It’s never been about me.”
It was about a woman, torn and beaten down, cast from her throne and made a puppet. A woman who had crawled when she had to. That woman still fought.
It was about a man that love repeatedly forsook. A man who found relevance in a world that others would have let pass them by. A man who remembered stories and who took fool boys under his wing when the smarter move would have been to keep on walking. That man still fought.
It was about a woman with a secret, a hope for the future. A woman who had hunted the truth before others could. A woman who had given her live, then had it returned. That woman still fought.
It was about a man whose family was taken from him, but who stood tall in his sorrow and protected those he could.
It was about a woman who refused to believe that she could not help, could not heal those who had been harmed.
It was about a hero who insisted with every breath that he was anything but a hero.
It was about a woman who would not bend her back while she was beaten, and who shown with a light for all who watched, including Rand.
It was about them all.
BOOM. It was at that point I knew it was over. No way was Rand failing now. Even his words had been altered to capital’s, so I knew it was serious.
The whole trap with Callandor and Moridin, recalling his memory of his epiphany, and sealing the Dark One away with a new prison as he realised there has to be opposition, otherwise the world would be no better than if the Dark One had one.
Words don’t do it justice.
Then, at long last, that epilogue. Tam lighting Rands bier and Perrin searching in hysteria for Faile in Tel’aran’rhiod both were super sad, but so right. Then the very final scene, where Rand walks away in the body of Moridin and is finally at peace.
“He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind was gone.-Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, A Memory of Light
I can’t describe the feeling I had when I read that final sentence. I felt like crying. Like laughing. Like celebrating.
Woohoo. I’m finally done. Over a year of pain, joy, triumph, and sorrow. All done. It’s always a strange feeling when you finish a series, but with a series like the Wheel of Time, it’s even stranger.
I would have liked to see more of the aftermath and the Fourth Age, and what happens to the rest of our main cast, but overall, I can’t complain. A Memory of Light was such a perfect end to a
perfect worthwhile series. I struggle to find the words to express my feelings.
I might even say it was . . . exquisite.
To put it in the words of Jordan himself,
“There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time.
But it was an ending.”
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“A Memory of Light leaves me with a profound sense of loss.”Mike