View Full Version : My ha'pennies worth. A little old review by yours truly - Spoilers

01-18-2013, 07:30 AM
Well, I finished the book. Being on a beach in Thailand for the new year meant I was a bit late picking up my copy. Oh the horrors I must suffer...
Anyway, I finished it last night. I made the correct decision in reading the book slowly. Speed reading has ruined my experiences of books in the past.

I thought it was truly an excellent book and was almost a perfect conclusion to the wheel of time. I thought Brandon did a magnificent job, much better than I thought anyone could have done under the pretty difficult circumstances. It wasn't the ending I expected, but RJ never did give the endings any of us expected. That was part of the attraction of WoT, at least to me, anyway.

What I loved:
I thought the death of Gawyn was a wonderful piece of satire by RJ. He made Gawyn into a brash, annoying, arrogant knight and brought a WoT-world slant to Sir Gawain of legend. Gawain was the 'defender of women' and known for his brashness. In aMol, this brought his demise. He was written to be a bit of an ass and it was no coincidence that his sigil was the charging boar. Very well done indeed.

The death of Egwene. No, I was never an Egwene-hater. I thought her character was someone forced by circumstance into becoming ruthless. I thought again, RJ re-wove the Guinevere story into something rather different. She was rescued from a fire and lived out her days as abbess in a convent in the Arthurian books...in WoT, she became 'abbess' of a large convent and died in a fire. Wonderful twisting of tropes. It was noticeable she nearly always wore white in this book, in keeping with her name as 'white enchantress'. I wasn't surprised when she found an anti-balefire weave. WoT was always, ALWAYS about balance.

The pace. Brandon bought a vitality of pace to WoT and it just increased in this book. Yes, we knew this was the conclusion and action was inevitable but it was a wonderful and realistic speed at which things happened.

Siuan/Gareth. This was RJ fecking about with us. We thought their 'viewing' had already come to pass after Towers of Midnight. Nope. Wonderful bit of sneakiness by RJ on this one. They didn't have the monumental, grandstanding deaths of other secondary characters, admittedly. But there's only so much room for that in a 900 page book. Gareth's death was then inevitable. I can't say I wouldn't have preferred a grandstand death, though.

The Androl arc. I thought he was a wonderful 3-dimensional character and the pageboy taught them all a lesson or two about gateways. Some of the ingenuities felt more BS than RJ but it was still immensely entertaining.

Olver. This was the best writing of the book. The only time ol' macaroni got misty-eyed in the book. His POVs was written with empathy, skill and utter brilliance. A child being the hornsounder was a total bolt from the blue for me. Amazing.

The battle with the dark one itself was not how I expected it to be. It was portal world against portal world, what might be against what might be. It seems the Communist utopia and Objectivist paradises are not worlds worth living in, according to RJ. A little dig at the Yeard from beyond the grave? He did blatantly 'borrow' WoT stories in his Sword of Crap series. Although, I can't see it didn't throw up some metaphysical issues I have yet to fathom. I'll think on this more. I understand Terez's reservations on this. I still thought it was well written and engrossing.

Mat. He felt right. Mat's humour lies in his ignorance of his own failings and his inner grumblings. This was mostly the case in the book.

Faile. Her paranoia was palpable in her scenes. I thought she was well written and her decisions were plausible. Aravine the darkfriend eh? I never bought the Harnan/Vanin darkfriend at all. It was obvious they were after tobacoo from our perspective. But from Faile's?

The manipulation of the Captains. Devious and the Ituralde part was especially well written. He has suffered in this battle. Did his PTSD save him from compulsion?

The references to the first couple of books. BS re-read those before he started writing the last book. It showed. The interaction between Master Luhan and Perrin was poignant especially.

Demandred/Bao the Wyld
Beowulf the dragonslayer became Bao the Wyld the Dragon Reborn slayer. Sort of.
A Forsaken with actual talent who brought an entire continent into battle (sorta). This was another manipulation of a trope. I would say he did become a bit 'end boss from world of warcraft' at times. It took a 'tank' to kill him lol

The Dark One's tactic.
It was always to destroy humanity's spirit. So, the battle with Rand's goodness was only part of a greater battle with humanity's...

The openendedness of the conclusion. HCFFs will be debating ad nauseum for years on this! I never understood what closing the bore meant...I imagine this was deliberate.

Things I struggled with:

I can't deny I occasionally lost perspective of the battlefield and it became words at times. I occasionally referenced the map - something I dislike doing. RJ would not have written this in such a grandiose manner. RJ was a veteran and it was all about fog of war, his battle scenes would have been more chaotic and small scale. But it still mostly worked.

Shadar Haran. He was a major force for most of the latter books and then became a discarded husk? A throwaway couple of sentences. I thought this was weak.

Moridin. The early discourse in his dreamshard was interesting. But in the final showdown, his was largely redundant other than his Alanna gambit and as a vessel of Rand to jump into. He was a weaker Forsaken than I thought he'd be.

Callandor. Min figured it out, apparently. No big reveal, it was just said. After all the ruminations and dialogues, she just figured it out. This was a cop-out.

Nynaeve. A major character given only bit part status in the final book. Surely a few pages of internal monologue would have been enough? I know people mentioned the lack of Dobraine in this book, but there were others, Lady Shiaine the Darkfriend springs to mind.

The liberation of the Black Tower. Too much happened off screen, most likely to build up suspense. But I can't help thinking that such a major confrontation could have happened in a chapter somewhere???


RJ was known for his nuance, it sometimes infuriated fans (not I) with his description of clothes and rooms but that was his style and he could paint a nuanced scene and a mood with the skill of a great painter. BS doesn't have that style (yet). Not many writers do and that was wheel of time was such a success in no small part. That and such beautiful world-building.

That said, BS brought something else to the final three books, he brought pace and excitement and structure and most of all, closure. I honestly believe that if RJ had not passed away, this ending would have taken four or five books. They would have been wonderful, I'm sure, but would they have had the KAPOW nature of aMoL? Yes, he trimmed down some character arcs a little too much for my taste (I'm thinking Logain especially) but he kept his eyes on the prize and that was Rand/Egwene/Perrin/Elayne/Mat/Aviendha and to a lesser degree Min. (Nynaeve's non-appearance in this list still grates!)
Like the last battle, he was ruthless at times to win the battle and tell the greater story.

All in all, I thought this was a wonderful book with only minor flaws and a fitting end to the best Fantasy Series since Tolkien. Well done Team Jordan.

Lost One
01-18-2013, 11:55 AM
You bring up a good point with Shaine/Skane. What had happened to her? I kind thought that therre might have been a darkfriend army/unit made up of all the Skanes, Godes, and Weiremons and others. Evidently they did dot the landscape because they kept creeping out. Did they just sit TG out?

01-18-2013, 12:06 PM
What happened to Weiramon?
I would have expected him to lead a charge or two, at least.

01-18-2013, 02:18 PM
Burn me, Moridin does not suffer fools lightly.

Rand al'Fain
01-18-2013, 03:39 PM
Burn me, Moridin does not suffer fools lightly.

Literally, or metaphorically?:D