First, a confession. I have drunk the Wheel of Time Kool-Aid. I know this because when I started reading this book, I began thinking of an eventual re-read of the whole series. To say I was surprised by this desire is a bit of an understatement. Halfway through my Wheel of Time journey, if you would have asked me about the possibility of re-reading this series sometime in the future, my reply would have been along the lines of, “Um, whyyyyyy.” But now it’s, “Maybe?” And that right there should be enough to tell you how much I appreciated this last book not only as a book in and of itself but as an end to a saga millions of words long. Part of me has been holding back judgment until this last book because I wanted to see if Jordan (and Sanderson by proxy, though he was by most reports, including his own, as faithful as possible to Jordan’s plans for all the characters and storylines) would do something that made me see the series in a new light. And they/he did.
I am so glad I pushed through to these last three books (which are really one book split up into three volumes). They retroactively make me think more fondly of the others, even the sloggiest of the bunch.
I wasn’t fully satisfied with the way some stories wrapped up. (Mostly the stuff with Tuon and the Seanchan; it really pisses me off that they got to leave this series without their culture having a massive upheaval due to some sort of slavery-related reckoning. I get SO angry when I think about this. The only saving grace is that Mat (and Min?) seem to have influence with Tuon and therefore things might change in the future. Also, I didn’t end up liking Tuon that much. All that entitlement she and her culture possess enrages me.)
But the rest of it: yes.
This book was non-stop from beginning to end. Thread after thread came to a close. Characters died, but in ways that left me satisfied narratively (though one in particular, which I had been spoiled for, still made me very sad). Stuff that happened all the way back at the beginning of the series had greater resonance.
I’d also been spoiled in regards to Rand’s fate, and wondered how it was going to be executed (answer: pretty great!). And really, I didn’t mind being spoiled in the end because OH MY GOD this book was so stressful. I liked having some knowledge of what was coming so I could prepare myself emotionally. The final confrontation comes in a three hundred page chapter, and it was nearly perfect. The epilogue was written by Mr. Jordan himself, and I’m glad he had a chance to close out the series with his own words. But ultimately, Sanderson more than did justice to this series. He brought everything together in a feat of writing and organization and character redemption that gives me a headache just thinking about how much work he must have put into it. And I think he succeeded admirably. These last three books have been my favorites by far (my favorite of Jordan’s books, if you’re curious, is The Shadow Rising).
[4.5 stars, rounded up]
Read Harder Challenge 2018: A book published posthumously.