I actually don’t think it’s possible to review this book objectively. Yes, I can and will talk about its contents and words, but its story is so much more to its readers. Its years of investment in Jordan’s universe, decades speculating about plot elements, character motives and twisted schemes. This commitment is one of the main reasons why I have put off reading this final chapter in the series, as the good Doctor (David Tenant) said, “I don’t want to go”, well, I don’t want it to end.
After Robert Jordan passing, I like most other people were adrift in unanswered questions about the fate of the characters we love and the riddles Jordan has presented us. In time we got our metaphorical life jacket when Brandon Sanderson took up the challenge of finishing the work. I commend Brandon’s courage for taking up this mantel for two reasons. Firstly, what I have read so far in AMoL is true to Jordan’s vision and writing style. Secondly, because he would never be able to please everyone with the end product and would surely have known this going into the project. Can you imagine the fan-hard’s reactions if the story didn’t live up to their expectations or some piece of the puzzle wasn’t explained to the degree they believe Jordan would have explained it? We have this book and Towers of Midnight because Sanderson had the determination to see a cherished piece of fantasy writing finished and given the completion it deserved.
Ending a series cannot be easy for an author, especially if it’s not your own work, and I am immensely grateful that Jordan kept should great notes on the material he had already written, the ideas and twists that have occurred and what the story outcome he wished for.
To ensure I give this final instalment the due consideration, it deserves, I plan to review it in four parts, at approximately 1000 pages, I don’t want to leave anything out.
The Wheel of Time turns, and its Creator came and passes, leaving memories that become legend. Legends which will not fade or be forgotten in the Age that gave birth to them. In one Age, called the Jordan Age by some, an Age long coming and long to pass, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
Fair Warning – There is no way to really review this book without spoilers, so SPOILERS!
It’s been a few years since I have read book Towers of Midnight and while prologue for AMoL was very good it didn’t bring me back to the story fully until I had nearly completed it. I could easily put this down to myself, as I really should have reread the last book again to refresh my memory. However, if I am nit picking I would have liked a recap of the previous book, but understand how do you recap a story this complex.
In the first few pages of the story we are introduced to individuals who are slowly coming to the realisation that the Final Battle is coming, that petty struggles for power and land in the grander scheme of things are meaningless. It was a potent opening scene for the book and I don’t know why I felt this way, but I got the feeling this was an expression of Jordan’s passing, there is a sadness and loss that may (most likely not) have come from Sanderson’s subconscious.
Following this we are brought back to the characters, both main, but mostly secondary. I enjoy the Prologue for what it was, a reintroduction of the story without going into the nitty-gritty of the plot. You begin to get a feel of the world once more and a sense of what is befalling the peoples of the Wheel of Time. The best word I can use to describe the first quarter from my perspective is a ‘consolidation’. We are presented with a marked change in Rand’s mood and actions, he is less hard and more supple. He has accepted his insanity and gained clarity, no longer fearing his own death, seeing it merely a price to pay. This acceptance of his death is needed at this point because everyone has an opinion if he dies or not. If Rand dies ** its been written this way from the start and everyone ahs been told, but if he doesn’t die, then everyone’s surprised and happy.
The first quarter also brings all the main characters together (except Mat) before going off to the Final Battle. I enjoyed this final get together, each character is playing their own role but its gives the feeling of completeness before the major losses that are sure to come.
We are finally brought to the trouble in the Black Tower, a somewhat neglected story element in my opinion to date. Rand is still none the wiser about what is truly happening but we see what is occurring from a solid selection of secondary characters, each of which adding a new perspective to the story, which was enjoyable. We tend to want to only see through the eyes of the characters we love at this point (Book Fourteen) and it was refreshing to have this new viewpoint.
We have a few minor but required realisations and plot twists along the way. Rand finally going to aid Lan at the Gap, which was the first real battle scene and well written and a nice precursor for future battle plots but otherwise unimportant. Rand finally finding out he will be a father to Elayne and his babies, which if I’m being honest was a little flat but will surely have a bearing of the later story. The biggest plot element was Moiraine finally comes face to face with Rand once more. Her introduction is a balm on the high emotions and tensions that Rand and all the Rulers are under. Unfortunately, while interesting, I found it a little dull. I was hoping for more emotion and energy, but it felt more like a six out of ten on the revelation scale.
Stepping back and looking at the story from the perspective of the previous books I would like to have had more vitality and rawness, I can sense it in the words but feel it’s been held back. I am hoping that this is intentional, the calm before the storm. While a 1000 page story of constant go go go would be good in theory, in reading you need the waves, the peaks and troughs so you know the highs and the lows.
For this first section 8/10
** My personal perspective goes two ways, he should and will die, but is reborn again not long after his death. He will live but Min will die as she goes with him to Shayol Ghul. His ‘blood on the rocks’ in prophecy is in reference to Min who is also beginning pregnant and the baby also dies. There is always a price to pay.