Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Memory of Light - Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan

    2013; 909 pages.  New Author? : No.  Genre : Epic Fantasy.  Book #14 of the Wheel of Time series.  Overall Rating : 9½*/10.

    This is it!  Tarmon Gai’don (“Armageddon”) is at hand, and every nation (except the Seanchan) awaits its outcome with dread and hope.  Hordes of innumerable trollocs and myrddraal pour out of the Blight to do the Dark One’s bidding.  They are unstoppable; all the Forces of Light can hope for is to slow them down.  But all eyes are on Shayol Ghul, where Rand al’Thor, The Dragon Reborn, must do battle with the Dark One, in a fight that the prophecies say he cannot survive.

   And if the Horn of Valere is not blown at the right time, and if the seals imprisoning the Dark One are not broken at the right time, Rand stands no chance at all.  So each of the remaining Forsaken strives mightily to gain the horn and/or seals, in order to curry favor in their evil lord’s eyes.  Long odds for Rand, indeed.

What’s To Like...
    All your favorite heroes have gathered – including Moiraine, Thom, Logain, and my personal favorite, Loial.  Even the Tinkers make an appearance.  A Memory of Light is essentially one giant, 900-page battle.  This might seem excessive, but relative to the series as a whole, it is appropriately sized.

    Once again, Brandon Sanderson does a fine job of writing in the style of the late Robert Jordan.  You may get tired reading of 1,001 ways to kill a trolloc, but Jordan would’ve written it that way too.  Think of how many times a skirt was smoothed, or Nynaeve yanked on her braid.  The only difference I can see – Sanderson infuses the tale with some of his wit, which is IMHO a plus.  OTOH, if you are a Robert Jordan loyalist, be of good cheer.  He wrote the last 17 pages of AMoL (the Epilogue) before he died, it is most excellently done, and it’ll put a lump in your throat.

    There are lots of plot twists along the way, not all the good guys survive, and there are some loose ends after the dust settles.  Elayne’s still pregnant, and a couple of the Forsaken, although vanquished, remain alive.  The groundwork is laid for a new series of WoT tales – set at the dawn of the new age, and with the next generation of heroes.  I readily see Robert Jordan’s estate doing the “Robert Ludlum” thing.

    “Do you really think he’ll reward you?” Perrin spat.  “How can you not realize that once you’ve done what he wishes of you, he’ll just discard you, as he has so many?”
     Slayer laughed.  “Did he discard the Forsaken, when they failed and were imprisoned with him in the Bore?  He could have slaughtered them all and kept their souls in eternal torment.  Did he?”
    Perrin didn’t reply.
    “The Dark One does not discard useful tools,” Slayer said.  “Fail him, and he may exact punishment, but he never discards.  (pg. 565 )

    “Tuon wants me to sit in judgment.  Any time a soldier is seeking the Empress’s mercy for a crime, I’m the one who is supposed to bloody hear his case!”
    “You,” Egwene said, “passing judgment?”
   “I know,” Mat said.  “Too much bloody work, if you ask me.  I’ve been dodging guardsmen all day, trying to steal a little time for myself.”
    “A little honest work wouldn’t kill you, Mat.”
    “Now, you know that’s not true.  Soldiering is honest work, and it gets men killed all the bloody time.”  (pg. 611)

“When the deck starts to look like it’s stacked against the Dark One, of course he will just add a few new cards to the game.”  (pg. 559)
    Let’s face it, we all know that Light will defeat Darkness in WoT, if only because some quotes from Loial’s book are given.  Loial would be dead and his book never written if the Light lost.  So how does Brandon Sanderson go about keeping us in suspense and turning the pages?

    Well, by making the bad guys every bit as ingenious, relentless, powerful, and full of surprises as the good guys.  Evil doesn’t just have one card up its sleeve, it’s got a whole deck.  Just as soon as the good guys recover from one deadly ploy, the Forsaken spin another one.  This is a superbly written piece of epic fantasy.

    A Memory of Light is not a standalone.  If you’ve read the first 13 books in the series, you are Dragonsworn and you know you will read #14.  If you are new to series, you have some serious reading (13 books, 11,000 pages, 3,700,000 words) to do before tackling this one.  But it is worth it.  9½ Stars.

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