A Memory of Light

Just found this old review which for some reason I never posted. Oops …

I can’t believe it’s over. I’ve said it all before, but there’s no better place to say it again: I first read The Eye of the World while working at a pharmacy, my first job, and saw the chunkster on the limited paperback rack. It was 1991. This series has outlived that job, that pharmacy (and its owner), I hesitate to say how many other jobs, AND its own author and cover artist. Twenty–four years later, I don’t even know how to handle having read the last chapter of this behemoth.

Another thing I will have said before (if I ever finish and post reviews of the other books comprising the finale): it was often fairly obvious to me where Brandon Sanderson had to take on full authorship of a section or chapter. Say what you will about Robert Jordan – and there is plenty to say – in my opinion he was a fine writer, skilled at exposition and description (maybe a little too skilled at that latter), and at dialogue; when things got a bit clunky I suspected Sanderson. (Sorry, BS fans; I haven’t joined those ranks yet.)

So, one might ask, how was it?

Um.

I don’t know how to answer that, entirely.

Twenty–four years. It would have had to be mind–blowing to live up to that kind of lead–in.

I wouldn’t say it was mind–blowing. There was still too much meandering off into random characters’ brains; I’m sorry, but after all those thousands of pages and thousands of characters I object to new characters still being introduced in the final book. There was, as mentioned, an unevenness to the writing, where Sanderson’s writing filled in gaps, like patches mending tears in not–quite matching cloth. There was a coolness to the handling of a few of the main characters that was difficult to take; I’ve spent a long time with these characters, known them longer than I’ve known most actual humans in my life today, and for their personalities to shift, even slightly, was disturbing.

The biggest disappointment to me was not really in how it all ended – that was a little confusing, but how could it not be? – but in how it all ended for certain characters. Again, I’ve known these folks for over twenty years, more than half my life. For some of them – not “NPC’s” but POV characters, characters who have had scores if not hundreds of pages devoted to them – to die not with a bang OR a whimper but just sort of a “poof” offstage and almost unremarked … that hurt. I mean, yes, there are so damned many characters in this saga that to spend time on every death would mean the series would have to outlive (or wear out) young Mr. Sanderson in his turn – but Siuan and Gareth?, for two?? They deserved better, especially the former. The latter got to go out fighting, but the former… poof. There was no grieving for them, not for their compatriots – it felt like they were unremarked; and not for me – I was too angry. And rushed. After a billion and a half pages, suddenly events began to hasten toward the end about halfway through … in spurts, at least. Then they’d go back to a more leisurely pace for a while. Then hurtle onward again. I don’t know.

Writing this, I thought about going back and adjusting my rating. Fresh from the last pages I gave it the full five stars, but putting some of my thoughts on “paper” had me thinking I ought to bump it down. But … no. After all, awful as the film of The Return of the King was, it deserved the Oscars it won as representative of an at times magnificent (and at times downright execrable) movie trilogy; whatever its faults, Memory of Light was the grand finale. And it was kind of grand.

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