I excitedly started off the year by purchasing the past book of the giant Wheel of Time series, A Memory of Light. I absolutely love this series, and have grown up along with the characters over the last 10 years. The author, Robert Jordan, is incredibly skilled, and the author who finished the series after his death, Brandon Sanderson, is a worthy successor. I loved ingesting the lessons on politics, leadership, friendship, and even military theory that are woven throughout the books. A part of me was sad that my supply of masterfully crafted vicarious lessons from this series was coming to an end. I doubt that even the authors successor weaves such complex, messy, realistic layers into the characters of his own work.
Sadly, while it was an amazing conclusion, the final book of this series didn’t have as much of that complex character development as the rest of the series, which really is to be expected of the conclusion of a story. All of the character and plot development happens in the first three fourths of a narrative, peaking at the climax (the battle, the discovery of secrets, the facing of opponents, the protagonists’ big struggle with a precariously uncertain outcome), and then wrapping up at the end. This book was the climax and wrap up. And I’ll be honest- sometimes I don’t even watch the climax and wrap up of a movie because the character and plot development was all that I wanted and found interesting. I like meeting the characters, getting to know and care about their back story and the “problem,” and becoming familiar with the new elements they will encounter (the boy, the job, the diagnosis, the crisis of faith….whatever comes on the other side of “man vs.” in this movie description). And I like the back and forth of trying to fix the problem, leading up to the peak of action. But the climax is always predictable, and always rushed, and just not as satisfying. “The bad guy is here!” “We could get arrested, hide the evidence!” “The boy is at risk of losing the girl!” Oh no, comedic, dramatic, or gory scrambling ensues!! Well, spoiler alert, most of the time, “man-” main character- wins. Meh. I don’t really need to see the last 20 minutes of a movie to be delivered that result. But after 13 books, Jordan had lots of plot lines to tie up, so I couldn’t very well skip the book in protest of the series ending. And, for a conclusion, it was impressive and ultimately mysterious. Really, the series can live on a long time in the debates of WoT fans discussing the meaning of the last few chapters.