Warning: this post may contain spoilers for The Wheel of Time: A Memory of Light.
Over twelve years ago, I received a $20 gift certificate to Chapters for my birthday. At that time, I pretty much read anything that came into my path, and so didn’t have a specific book in mind when my mother took me over there.
I remember browsing the aisles, not really seeing anything that caught my eye, until—there, on the top shelf! The illustrations on the cover of The Wheel of Time: From Two Rivers were such that it grabbed me and made me take it down from the shelf. The back of the novel didn’t give much insight into what the book was about, so I shrugged and took it home with me.
On Monday, January 7, 2013, the final book of that series, A Memory of Light came out. This was the fourteenth in what was supposed to be a six-book series. It’s hard to explain how I felt about this book. I’ve been reading the series for over half of my life, and for my entire adult life. I’ve reread the series around five times—and this is a feat. The shortest book in the series was around 600 pages probably.
This final epic was 900 and some pages. It took me until Friday evening to finish it, and I’ve been thinking about it non-stop since then, running through what happened, trying to account for all the characters—well, the main ones, there’s more than 1800 named characters in this series—and trying to decide how I feel about the ending.
I feel good.
When I first read the last sentence, I didn’t know what to think. It’s hard to believe it’s over. I’m happy, sad, relived, disbelieving, but overall, satisfied. The end couldn’t have come about in a better way, except for a cliché happy ending where everyone gets everything they want. And I didn’t want that.
At first, I was a little disappointed with some loose ends. Characters that don’t really resolve their arc. I was sad because they have potential to do so much, but we’ll never know what they do. But this is the intention, I think, as now it’s up to us what they do. There isn’t time or space— in fact, it would take a whole other book—to wrap up every character. So with that, I am happy.
There were a few arcs I felt didn’t get the end they deserved—Padan Fain and Alivia to name the two top—but that’s just picking at minor things.
Some moves, while saddening—or in the case of Birgitte, tear-inducing—were brilliant. How could Birgitte be called by the Horn if she wasn’t dead? Egwene was brilliant. I disliked her through most of the series—she seemed like such a brat!—but she certainly made up for it. I suspected she may die, especially after Gawyn fell. It seemed the deaths were paired nicely, although that did have to do with the Warder bond, of course—Siuan and Gareth, Egwene and Gawyn—and then of course Lord and Lady Bashere, countless others.
That being said, I would have been disappointed if none of the main characters had died. It would have felt unrealistic and kind of a cop out. As each one died, I felt tears in my eyes—even for Bela.
Now, most of you reading this post won’t have a clue what I’m talking about. For this reason I won’t go in-depth. I’ll just try to say what this series meant to me.
Yes, it was a book series. But it was so much more than that. It’s been a part of me for over half of my life, like I said. I grew up with these characters and found myself immersed in their world. I’ve shouted in anger at these books. I’ve laughed out loud with delight. Held back tears. Read with intense alarm, fearing what would happen.
This series has been around as long as me. The first book was published in 1990. After eleven books, the author, Robert Jordan, died. He had left enough notes that the series could be completed, by Brandon Sanderson.
I don’t have a way to properly end this post. I already miss the series. I’ve been thinking about it since I finished. I’ll probably be thinking about it for a long time to come. I’m sad there won’t be any more adventures, but also happy. If any of you readers are also Wheel of Time fans, I’d love to chat with you about it:
And if you’re not? Well, I have to recommend it. It’s a long, big-ass endeavour, but it’s worth it. Trust me.
Thank you to Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson, and everyone who helped this series make it to the end, and for doing it justice. It’ll be tough to find a new series to delve into—I’m open to suggestions, everyone!—but I know I’ll come back to the Two Rivers eventually.
In the meantime, I’ll take solace in Robert Jordan’s last words:
“There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time.
But it was an ending.”