View Full Version : aMoL early impressions (very mild, hidden, spoilers, by some definitions).

01-07-2013, 03:07 PM
The end. To a lot of long time fans of the series, this is a hard thing to imagine. Whatever one thinks of the length and pacing of the series, its hard to deny that those who invested their time in the series even a little have had a long time to grow to love/hate the characters in the story. And the sheer amount of reading time you've spent with them makes their outcome more impactful. They're almost old friends, and these old friends are about to face carnage and destruction of an unprecedented level for this series. We've seen them grow ready for this, but seeing them actually face the end of the world is something else.

As can be expected, this is a book with a lot of action. A lot of things happen, some foreseen, some not. Even though we have some conception of how things might end, what is shocking is how that ultimate knowledge quickly stops mattering when you're in the thick of it with Elayne or Mat or Egwene or Perrin. We may think we know the destination, but this journey provides enough twists to keep things interesting.

Partly because I read the book so fast, and partly because so much of the book is so focussed on action (a forte of Brandon Sanderson), I noticed less the many annoyances involved in the transition from one author to the other. In the sweep of the Last Battle, the enormous carnage, the powerful sacrifice of so many primary, secondary and tertiary characters we know, these things still shine through, if not perfectly, at least well enough.

A Foresaken long hidden is revealed, and it is satisfying. Tactics of the Shadow from the past rear their faces again, to disastrous results. A great threat long foreshadowed rears its head, and is dealt with unexpected means and powerful sacrifice that few would have foreseen, yet which is enormously satisfying at an emotional level, and even more so for its great thematic depth. Humanity fights among the ruins of a fracturing reality.

But what of the central conflict? What of the battle between the Dragon and the Dark One? Here, I cared less about the actual mechanics, and more about the thematic significance. And at the thematic level, it fits. At the plot level too, though there is what seems to be misdirection. As someone I discussed this with said, it is both surprising and logical. Logical, because there is no last minute talisman that saves the day. Surprising because there were enough threads surrounding this that the final weave couldn't be exactly guessed at. The Wheel has no beginning or ending. But this is an ending, and it is fitting.

In keeping with that catechism so central to the series, not all threads are wrapped up, by far. While answering many of the deepest questions of the series, many others are left in the air, with clues here and there hinting at the direction they will go, but no final statement on what will happen. And there are hooks, at least two good hooks, that should provide for some active discussion. The world is not finished. Our characters cannot retire into a life free of adventure.

And to me, that was the best part of the ending. It felt like one, yet did not preclude us from imagining the Wheel spinning on, new adventures, new conflicts, rebirth, rebuilding. As a character says at a critical moment: "The Pattern would continue".

The stuff within the spoiler bracket isn't really spoilery, but some might consider them so, so they're hidden.