I kind of don’t even know where to begin with this review. I’ve started half a dozen paragraphs while sitting here, and then deleted them all. Like, who wants to be the jerk who thinks one of their favorite authors took up another author’s life’s work and then did it better? But . . . UGH, I do think that! I do.
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’ve had issues pretty much the whole way through the first eleven books of this series. But I’ve also enjoyed myself, particularly during books two through five, after Jordan stopped imitating Lord of the Rings and before he stopped moving his plot along in favor of endless details that didn’t matter. But also, the whole way through, I’ve never really gotten it. For me, Jordan’s writing was interesting in a sort of academic way, but I never felt it. (Except for annoyance. I felt that a bunch.) The characters were always at a remove for me, and they were always doing really dumb stuff and behaving in ways that seemed not great, and it was hard for me to distinguish between authorial intent with that stuff, and whether Jordan just wasn’t pulling off what he wanted to pull off. Like, are these women characters all meant to be so belligerent and shrewish? Or is that something that just happened and we’re supposed to like them and think they’re awesome leaders? I could never be 100% sure. It just never clicked for me.
But a hundred pages in to this book, I was like, oh! Okay. This is what other people must have been feeling this whole time. I feel like I finally get why so many people love the Wheel of Time. It’s like Sanderson took all of the awesomeness of Jordan’s characters and his world and finally wrote it in a way that I could appreciate it. I mean, like, there was actual plot movement! And character development! And people being smart and doing awesome things! Except Rand, who was suuuuuch an a-hole the whole time, but at least that was on purpose.
Okay, but in all seriousness, I don’t think anybody but people involved in the making of the book will ever know how much of this was Sanderson and how much was Jordan, all I know is that I really, really liked this book. Things that have been bothering me for so long were fixed or acknowledged or reframed. And Egwene has always been my favorite character, but here for the first time she gets to be the most awesome person, and also for the first time I found Aes Sedai stories interesting. Sanderson inherited a lot of plotlines (and problems) that needed to be tied up, and I think he handled all of them pretty well. And almost the whole time, it felt like I was reading WOT, and you could tell he was making a conscious decision to write like Jordan. (There was the occasional phrase that felt very Sandersonesque, but I didn’t mind. There were A LOT of words in this book.) If Rand’s storyline had ended any differently, this would be a different review, but finally, AT LONG LAST, Rand is realizing he’s been doing this Dragon Reborn thing all wrong and that he has been a terrible leader. I would have appreciated less frustration leading up to it, but at least we got there in the end.
Super excited to read the last two books.