There are no endings…

…to the Wheel of Time. But it is AN ending.

Took almost three weeks but I just finished listening to the final book in the Wheel of Time series. How was it? In a word, satisfying. That’s really hard to do with the end of something. Especially something as long as this series.

Major spoilers ahead. Do NOT read if you haven’t read the book yourself.

One of the biggest challenges this book faced was wrapping up all the myriad stories and characters in a way that A) Didn’t feel rushed and B) was satisfying without being cheap. You can’t end something like this on a downer. You also can’t just let everything be peachy for everyone if you want to make it actual feel like the fate of the world is at stake.

Sanderson did an excellent job of concluding Jordan’s story. There were a few parts where it started to drag; the battle really went on for a LONG time. It’s unavoidable of course, 14 books all leading up to this climatic battle. You couldn’t devote less than half the book to it and make it pay off. That said, it feltl like it dragged a little.

The battles themselves were pulled off well and had enough pieces that they never lost their tension. That’s one big advantage to having SO many characters in the books. It got cumbersome at points in the series, with all those characters to keep track of. But, at the end, there were a lot of people you got to know. And you could kill them to ratchet up the tension without losing anyone important.

Which would have been pointless if it had just been minor characters had been killed. It’s always a tough call whether or not a main character dies. Unless you specifically know that their death is part of their story, or part of the story of another character, readers and writers alike don’t like to see their favorite character die. On one hand, if you just kill minor side characters, it feels meaningless after awhile. But no one wants to read 14 books and have their favorite character die.

The deaths of Egwene, Siuan, Gawyn, Birgitte and Bella all came at ideal moments for the books flow and were done in suitably dramatic ways. Yes, I included the horse. She’d been there from the beginning. I didn’t really care for Gawyn all that much but I felt sad at the deaths of the others. Birgitte’s death, even though it was pretty obvious she would rise again with the sounding of the horn, came as a shock and really helped raise the question of what would happen to Elayne.

I really liked the fall of Demandred. Three times people went after him one v. one. Each time you thought, all right, epic sword fight and then he’ll be taken down. You felt sure that Gawyn would die, either in the process of killing Demandred or as a result of the rings, but he’d emerge victorious. But he wasn’t. And neither was Galad.

By the time Lan went after him it made you wonder if he would make it.  You could say it was a little cheap that Lan survived the fight but I think it fit. Lan had always been prepared to die and in some ways it would have been a welcome relief. But he survived and can live happily ever after.

My biggest complaint with the book came at the end. After the battle dragging on for so long, how quickly it all concluded stood as a sharp contrast. The set up for the battle and the battle itself took so much of the book, that everything wrapping up so fast at the end is disappointing.

The set up of Padan Fain and the mist of evil made it sound like this would be another major obstacle the heroes would need to overcome. But then Mat just stabs him because he’s immune. I didn’t really have a problem with that part, just the build up to it made it feel a little anti-climatic.

It was also a little disappointing that the Epilogue wasn’t much of an epilogue. It did enough to show each of the characters going on to live happy lives, but really didn’t give many details. With all the possibilities that Rand and the Dark One toyed with and the visions of the future seen, you wanted some more details about what happened to them all.  The ending worked and I was satisfied with it, don’t get me wrong. I just would have preferred some more details. I don’t want more books though. That, I think, would be inappropriate. The story ended, it needs to remain over.

Overall, very pleased with the book and the series. Not sure if I’ll ever give it another read/listen as it’s very, very long. But I would consider it, which is an important mark of enjoyment.

 

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