As someone who has been reading The Wheel of Time saga right from the very beginning – that’s almost two dozen years of my life – writing a review of the final book was always going to be a bittersweet experience. Sad, inevitably, because, like it or not, the wheel has finally turned full circle and this really is the end; happy, hopefully, because the series could (and should) go out on a high note. Once I finished reading A Memory of Light I did indeed feel a conflicting range of emotions – but not the ones I was expecting! Yes, there was sadness, yes, there was joy, but there was also irritation, frustration, resentment and more than a little confusion. I purposely avoided Amazon and every other site that might have featured a review of the book until I finished it, for fear of spoilers and other people’s views colouring my own experience of AMOL. Once I did look at the reviews of the finale of the WOT I have to say my confusion only grew. Take the US Amazon page for example – at the time of writing it featured around 400 five-star ratings and 300 one-star ratings! I’ll go into more detail concerning the reasons for this massive diversity of reviews but, suffice to say, I found that I had very little in common with the opinions of those at either end of the spectrum. Instead, I found myself nodding as I read many of the two, three and four-star reviews. If that’s the sort of rating that those of you reading this post gave AMOL then you might agree with a lot of the things that I’m about to say – equally you might find yourself violently disagreeing! Either way, this is my own like-it-or-leave-it, bias-free, non-commercial take on the final volume of the series which, more than any other (sorry George R R Martin fans!), has dominated the fantasy bookshelves for the past two decades.
Here’s a special treat for those of you who enjoyed my Wheel of Time post a couple of days ago. Those lovely people from Macmillan Audio have very kindly let me get my hands on some clips from the Wheel of Time audiobooks. I thought I’d share this on the site to enable Robert Jordan fans to re-experience the series in audio leading up to the big finale next year! Just click on the links below. (Love this guy’s voice!)
James Oliver Rigney Junior, a man better known to readers everywhere as Robert Jordan, wrote what is today arguably the most successful, best known and widely read of all modern fantasy series in the form of The Wheel of Time. Sadly, Jordan (I’m going to use his better known pen-name from now on) died in 2007, before he managed to complete his epic, and it was left to his friend and fellow fantasy author Brandon Sanderson to finish his work from the extensive notes that he left behind. Jordan’s fans are sometimes, rather unfairly, referred to as the Trekkies of the fantasy genre and his critics (many of whom, oddly enough, are former fans) are well known for being rather… erm, vitriolic in their opinions. When you add the fact that we are talking about an author who tragically passed away before he had the opportunity to complete his life’s work, any criticism or evaluation of The Wheel of Time is fraught with difficulty at the outset. It is therefore with some trepidation that I approach the question (which I nonetheless think is an important one to answer): is The Wheel of Time actually any good?