First of all, I have to say kudos to Mr. Sanderson. Finishing this series must have been a bear of a task, and he did a fantastic job with it.
Secondly, this has been a horribly unproductive week for me, and I’m placing the blame squarely on that book. Good books are awful like that: even when you aren’t reading them, they’re still in your head, interfering with real life. A Memory of Light kept me up until 3AM Wednesday, because I got to a point where I just couldn’t put it down and go to bed. Then when I did get to bed, my dreams were of course all Wheel of Time rehashing. So I was a little zombie-ish yesterday.
Anyway, my thoughts. And these are very much “I just reached the end of a very long and complex series, and have not really had much time to really think it over” thoughts. (Warning, spoilers ahead)
I kept getting hit with drawing ideas. It was like I’d reach an epic moment in the book and in a flash I’d just know what that drawing would look like. Tam al’Thor, mid-battle, flicking Trolloc blood off his sword into another Trolloc’s eyes. Egwene vs. Taim. Lan vs. Demandred. Perrin leading the last hunt. I swear there was one every ten pages or so. I can’t recall this happening in any of the other Wheel of Time books, so I’m thinking it’s because of this NW project I’m doing. I’ve trained myself to pull the images out of the words. Maybe, when I have the time (or am able to make the time), I’ll actually do some WoT drawings.
I’m going to be using WoT swears in my head for the next month…I just know it.
I didn’t tear up until Bela died. (And I’m pretty sure this was after a few significant characters had kicked it.) Most awesome horse ever. There were a few times after that, and on the very last paragraph of the book. That was well done.
Most of the loose ends were tied up pretty well. Problem is, for every “hey, what about ____?” I can come up with, I can’t be sure whether it’s because it wasn’t tied up or because I’ve forgotten some key section from the other books that would answer it.
I would have liked a little more explanation about the Aelfinn/Eelfinn, and how they connect to the history of the rest of the world. They seemed to function as the world’s Fae (strange, dangerous, harmed by iron, soothed by music, grant boons and answer questions, but at a price), and maybe that’s all they were.
I feel like there’s a connection between the Aiel and the Tinkers, concerning the Way of the Leaf, that I missed. Again, may be due to faulty memory on my part.
I kept forgetting that certain characters had formed relationships with others. So I’d get to certain passages and be like, “Oh yeah, they got married, didn’t they. Huh.”
I would have liked Morgase’s story a little more tied up. Specifically, I’d have liked to see her at least attempt a reconciliation with Elayne. I also felt like Egeanin/Leilwin was kind of left dangling at the end. She becomes Egwene’s Warder (only the second female Warder ever? I think? That’s kinda significant) and then…what? What happened to her when Egwene died? Did she die in the battle? If not, I’d have liked to see her go on to be a force for change among the Seanchan.
Obviously it’d be impossible to tie up every single character’s story nice and neat, and the ending is left very wide open…so it’s not like I can’t fill in the rest in my head.
On the other hand, it felt like a few characters’ stories were finished/tied up a little too well, or abruptly. Padan Fain and Moghedian, specifically.
The last battle was very well-executed, although it took me while to realize it was all one big long chapter. I really liked Mat’s character through all of it (especially when he sent Hawkwing to go talk to Tuon, that made me laugh out loud). Sending person after person to try and kill Demandred got a little tedious, but I was right within two guesses at who was going to succeed (I thought it would be Tam al’Thor or Lan, though I was leaning towards Tam).
I liked that Rand’s encounter with the Dark One ended up being about keeping a balance and about free will. (I liked that about the Dragonlance series, too…the idea that good without the possibility of evil can sometimes be just as tyrannical and soul-crushing as the evil it seeks to replace).
The two probably insignificant but annoying gripes that stayed with me throughout the story:
Why was Moiraine brought back? I mean, yeah, she’s a cool character and a legend and all, but she really didn’t DO much in the last book. She shaped so much of what happened in the series by not being there…that’s really where her power in the series came from. Rescuing her just to have her sit there in Shayol Ghul and lend strength just felt kinda anticlimactic, as far as her character arc goes. I kept waiting for her to have her big climactic moment, the moment she was brought back into the story for, like Egwene, and it just never happened. (Because, technically, it already had. The woman fought Lanfear…how do you top that?).
How, how, how did Elayne do so much bloody horseback riding while six months pregnant?? It seemed like every other chapter she was on a horse, and there’s a reason that horseback riding is one of those activities that’s always listed as something pregnant women should NOT do. It’s a wonder she didn’t miscarry…in fact, I kept waiting her to go into labor at some inconvenient moment. I think I would have been satisfied if she or one of the other characters had even just mentioned this fact in passing: “She’s on a horse again, gee, I hope that won’t affect her condition”. But everyone always focused on the “she can’t go into battle, it’s dangerous” aspect, and I’d be like, “Forget the effing battle, she shouldn’t even be riding a bloody horse!
I think what I need to do now is re-read the series, the whole thing, to really appreciate how it all fits together. I had actually planned to do this before reading the last book (as I figured it would be a while before I could get my hands on a library copy)…but then the library had a copy just sitting there, and I figured that was too good of an opportunity to waste. And in hindsight, now I can stop worrying about accidentally hearing spoilers.
I probably won’t have time to do the re-read for a while, though.