It’s finally over. I’m kinda sad. Part of the sadness comes from the knowledge that I’ve never read these books again. Basically, I will probably never have the time. Fourteen books, averaging over 800 pages each… not gonna happen. I have yet to read the complete works of Dostoyevsky and that has to be a priority over re-reading the Wheel of Time series. Still. A bit sad.
This one is also only a bit over nine hundred pages, which, I guess is an improvement.
I want to go back to something that’s actual from the previous book, involving how the Children of Light (a kind of radical/reactionary military society that’s very unyielding) somehow agreed to work with a person totally antithetical to their beliefs. I know that the person (Perrin, if you must know) is ta’veren, which means that things just kind of happen around him (the Pattern bends around him, to use Wheel of Time speak) and there was good faith authorial effort to show some development in the Children of Light, but it was just too damn fast. I don’t buy. I didn’t buy it then. And this book is reminding me how I didn’t buy it.
But, the book does one thing very, very right. It picks up speed very, very fast. Very. Fast.
Less than halfway through, it turns into an enormous set piece, with three major, multi-day battles – not including the more individualistic, ultimate showdown between the mythic hero and ultimate evil. Sanderson shows a good touch for this sort of thing (his battle scenes in the Mistborn Trilogy were pretty good, so it’s not unexpected, but it is appreciated). The action is non-stop, exciting, and propulsive. The battle scenes, at least.
Rand al’Thor, the great hero of the book, has his final confrontation with the nebulous evil that is the ‘Dark One.’ And it’s a little disappointing. Parts of it seem, I kid you not, ripped off from The Last Temptation of Christ. While one can figure out what happened (Rand won, but how is the question) and what was done and the reasoning, it was not clear. Not in a ‘making the reader think’ way but in a ‘sloppily rushed to a not very well described conclusion’ way. There is some irritating deus ex machina regarding some of the main characters and the way in which they survived. And the very end, with Rand sneaking off while (most) everyone thinks he has died and is being burned on a pyre… well, what is the body being burned? And what is he doing to do about his two unborn children? It’s… I don’t know. Some big enemies were brought into the fight without a real explanation of why they were there and what they were and what exactly was motivating them.
But, hey. I finished. Fourteen freaking books. I took the last of them to the used bookstore the other day (not the final book, which I bought in hardback; not used bookstore wants hardback genre fiction, so I will likely donate it to the library). A part of my life that began in 2009 is over and that’s good and bad, but certainly not something I regret.