Book Review: A Memory of Light (Final Book, Wheel of Time Series) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Book Review: A Memory of Light (Final Book, Wheel of Time Series) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Quite a while ago, I wrote a blog post about the book that caused me to become a bibliophile and eventually brought me to pursue my dreams as an author. I told of how my dad found a random fantasy book and tossed it on my lap one day. I also told of how I had never read fantasy and thought it was somewhat dorky… well, it is dorky, but I’m okay with that. You can read that blog post here.

If you haven’t guessed by now, the first book in the Wheel of Time series, The Eye of the World by Robert eye-of-the-world-wheel-of-time-robert-jordan Jordan was the catalyst. I began this journey almost fifteen years ago and now that journey has come to an end… or has it? I mentioned in an earlier post that my wife asked how I would feel when I finished the final book in the series. While I stared at the ceiling for a good half-hour once finished, I quickly straightened up and pulled out my notebook to jot down my own fantasy genre ideas.

I’ve moved on in multiple ways. The fantasy will never end for me because I am an author. I’ll just write more! And of course, there will always be other fantasies out there to keep my interest, though it will take one heck of a story to compare to my first love.

On to the review!

A quick note about the description below. It’s not as much of a description for the book as it is a description of the entire series and the culmination of the entire project.

Book Description via Amazon

Since 1990, when Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time® burst on the world with its first book, The Eye of the World, readers have been anticipating the final scenes of this extraordinary saga, which has sold over forty million copies in over thirty languages.

When Robert Jordan died in 2007, all feared that these concluding scenes would never be written. But working from notes and partials left by Jordan, established fantasy writer Brandon Sanderson stepped in to complete the masterwork. With The Gathering Storm (Book 12) and Towers of Midnight (Book 13) behind him, both of which were # 1 New York Times hardcover bestsellers, Sanderson now re-creates the vision that Robert Jordan left behind.

Edited by Jordan’s widow, who edited all of Jordan’s books, A Memory of Light will delight, enthrall, and deeply satisfy all of Jordan’s legions of readers.

The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass.
What was, what will be, and what is,
may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

Book Review

If that last line isn’t one of the coolest lines I’ve ever read, I don’t know what is.

A reminder here that I try for no spoilers, but don’t read on if you’re worried I may give something away. I haven’t had any complaints yet, but I know I’m the type of reader who wants to know virtually nothing A-Memory-of-Light-wheel-of-time-robert-jordan-brandon-sandersonabout the storyline of the next book in a series I’m reading. There’s your fair warning.

Sanderson had hundreds of main characters, and hundreds of story arcs, to cover in this one. A close friend and I have discussed how this series would end for years and neither of us could comprehend how Sanderson could put the finishing touches on this one. While there were a couple small areas we complained about after finishing the series, the rest of the story was amazing enough that it didn’t change the way we felt one bit. The Wheel of Time series is, and will continue to be, one of the greatest epic fantasies ever told.

I didn’t think it was possible, but Sanderson kept an unbelievable pace throughout the entire novel. The chapters and sections were shorter than in previous WoT (Wheel of Time) books, but not only did it work well, I believe it was needed in this case. The reader is all over the map at first as we’re brought into the state of mind of all the characters and reminded where we’re headed: Tarmon Gai’don, the final battle, possibly the end of all things.

The final battle isn’t just one battle, but many. Some on a larger scale and some that are small yet lead to larger fights that may or may not be known by the other characters. Matrim, Perrin, Rand, Egwene, Nynaeve, Lan, Tam, and I could go on, all have their part to play, and they’re each significant.

Best Aspects of the Book

Sanderson keeps to the storyline and to Jordan’s vision of an epic story while continuing to focus on the individuals and their actions that brings us to the final climax.

Again, THE PACING! I swear my heart was racing through almost every page of this darn book. Not just the battle scenes, but with every decision the characters made bringing us closer to the end of the world, and the book.

The epic battle scenes. Sorry for using the word “epic” again, but it’s the only word that encompasses the breadth of this story. The tactics, the blood, the soldiers, the individuals; they all play significant roles in the final battle. Another reviewer said something similar, but the way the scenes played out it was as if Sanderson had first hand knowledge of that battle, as if he were there copying down what he saw.

Many may not see this as a positive, but it made the book more realistic in my opinion. Characters are dying all over the place in this one. It makes sense considering it was the final battle. If we’d had this grand battle to only have a few characters die, not only would it not have been as realistic, but the reader wouldn’t be on the edge of their seat wondering when their other favorite characters were going to “wake up from the dream,” as the Aiel would say.

Sanderson completed so many story arcs in one this one book that it was simply amazing. In a recent conversation with the friend I mentioned above, we discussed how Sanderson could have easily written another four or five books in the series with each of those story arcs being a story of their own.

The Negative Aspects

With how much I loved this story, it’s hard for me to say anything negative. However, I try to keep an unbiased tone when I write a review, though that’s pretty much impossible in this situation. While I say some of these things are negative, it’s only my opinion and other readers may disagree.

Where was Thom Merrilin? No, he wasn’t removed from the story, and he played an important role, but I loved his character and I wanted more. With the how big of a part of the story he was throughout, I thought there would be more.

There were some parts that were 100% Sanderson, particular lines especially. He sticks to a Jordanesque style throughout the previous two books he wrote, yet in this one, I felt there were times when the things he wrote were something Jordan probably would have done so differently. Of course, we’ll never know, and I’ve no doubt that Sanderson did the better than any other author could have in his position. My argument against this is that I’m not sure Jordan could have completed this series the way Sanderson did, and that’s saying a lot, because I love Jordan’s writing. Before this book, I wasn’t completely sold that Sanderson could finish the WoT series the way it should have been. Now, I can see that Robert Jordan and his wife picked the perfect author to finish this epic story.

This part goes with one of the positive aspects. I mentioned that Sanderson completed so many story arcs above, but there were some I wish he’d spent more time on. “Wish” is the key word there. We all wish we could read more of our favorite book or series, but that’s just not possible. I won’t mention which one, but there was one point that had been alluded to almost since the first book, and then when we reach the actual moment, it’s over in less than two pages. I can’t complain too much, the story arc was completed, even if not in the way that I had imagined.

The actual ending. I could probably put this in both the positive and the negative. In my mind, it fit perfectly. So why does it go in the negative section? Because, in my mind, there were just enough questions left that the ending read like the final line was a precursor to the next book in the series, which of course we won’t have. I think my brain is still working on what exactly I think about everything.

I give A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson five of five stars, and the series itself, five of five stars. If you’re looking for a true epic fantasy with an epic story line, an epic cast, and now an epic ending, the Wheel of Time is for you.

I doubt Brandon Sanderson or Harriet, Robert Jordan’s wife, will ever see this, but I want to take this moment to say thanks to all three of you for sharing this amazing story with the world. Thanks for the time and effort you put in, despite the untimely passing of Mr. Jordan. Thanks for showing me what it’s like to get lost in a book, to care for characters as if they’re my family, and for giving me this pipe dream to chase.

Grab a copy of A Memory of Light here on Amazon US, here on Amazon UK, or here on Barnes and Noble.

Book Review: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (Wheel of Time Series, Book 1)

The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time Series, Book 1) by Robert JordanThis is the fifth time I’ve read this book. Keep in mind that I’m the type of person who rarely watches a movie or reads a book a second time. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan is the book that drew me into the reading world, and now the writing world. I’d read maybe ten novels before this one, usually because they were required reading for school.

I don’t remember the exact times, but it took me almost three months to read the first 60 pages or so, then I read the next 700+ in a matter of days. My bedside hasn’t been without a book since.

Book Description via Amazon

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Note on the book description: There are multiple versions of this book, so the actual book description is hard to distinguish from all the editorial reviews.

Book Review

If you couldn’t guess by my introduction above, I’m in love with this series. If epic fantasy is your genre, do yourself a favor and check this book out.

The main plot behind the story (there are probably hundreds of sub-plots later in the series) involves a few villagers whose lives are changed dramatically within the first few chapters of the book. They’re thrust into a world of legend and fairy tales, learning along the way that those legends aren’t necessarily fairy tales after all.

Their fate is tied to the fate of the world, and maybe time itself. With only a single Aes Sedai and her warder to guide them, they fight just to survive the coming shadow.

The book starts out much slower than other books I’m used to, particularly the first time I read it because I’d never read epic fantasy before. I’m still surprised I kept going that first time.

Once the action started there was no putting this book down for me. Though The Eye of the World is filled with action, there are plenty of slow downs to give the reader a chance to take a breath. Even during these slow parts, Jordan keeps the tension up by making sure the characters are in constant danger. He’ll give the reader a false sense of security right before unleashing another unique monster to keep us on our toes.

World Building

The depth of Jordan’s world is breathtaking. Other fantasies I’ve read often focus on the world building, almost as if the world is the story. Some readers may disagree, but I never felt this with The Eye of the World. Every intricate piece seems to play a much larger role that we may not realize until later in the series.

Political Intrigues

The political and personal intrigues used in this series go way beyond anything else I’ve read before or since. As I mentioned with the world building, each political nuance discussed plays a significant role in the story. The only other writer I’ve seen come close in this respect is George R. R. Martin in his A Song of Ice and Fire series. I actually describe the first book in Martin’s series as more of a political thriller set in medieval times. You can read that book review here.

Interpersonal Relationships

Perhaps the most impressive part of Jordan’s first book in the Wheel of Time series is the interpersonal relationships and the inner thoughts of his characters. I don’t think he had a degree in psychology, yet the motives and inner workings of each character was amazing, especially the male/female relationships. It felt as if he knew each character on a personal level and we were actually seeing things from their perspective.

Then there is the story itself. Epic in every way, shape, and form. Though we’re able to feel for the characters on a personal level, we still sense the impending doom as the entire existence of their world is uncertain. There are some similarities to other fantasies of course, as there is in any book in this genre, but the story is told in a unique way with a new kind of magical system. Each book only develops these systems more as Jordan unveils a deeper understanding throughout.

I give The Eye of the World, Book One in the Wheel of Time Series, by Robert Jordan five of five stars.

I almost say it’s a MUST that you’re an epic fantasy fan to enjoy this book because there are details aplenty, details only an epic fantasy reader, or possibly one who enjoys historical fiction, could truly appreciate.

A note on Robert Jordan.

Unfortunately, Robert Jordan passed away in 2007 of a rare blood disorder and the Wheel of Time Series wasn’t complete. However, with the help of his wife, he passed on his notes and ideas to Brandon Sanderson for completion. I’d never heard of Sanderson before I read about Jordan passing the series on to him, but in that time, Sanderson has quickly become one of my favorite authors as well.

Sanderson has written the last three books in the series, with the final book due out in January of 2013. He’s done a wonderful job taking over for Jordan and will get no complaints from me.

Grab a copy of The Eye of the World here on Amazon, here on Amazon UK, or here on Barnes and Noble.

CERTAIN CONTENT THAT APPEARS ON THIS SITE COMES FROM AMAZON SERVICES LLC. THIS CONTENT IS PROVIDED 'AS IS' AND IS SUBJECT TO CHANGE OR REMOVAL AT ANY TIME.

If you’re an avid reader, keep an eye out for more posts later this week. Me and a few author friends are celebrating Christmas in what we’re calling, The Freebie Jubilee.

Jubilee

Book Review: Insurgent (Book 2, Divergent Series) by Veronica Roth

Insurgent picture for book review - Veronica RothInsurgent is the second book in the Divergent series by Veronica Roth about a dystopian society separated by factions determined by an individual’s personality type.

In case you didn’t notice, I only posted the Divergent review ten days ago and here I am with book two in the series. I finished the second book only a few days after the first. With as crazy as my schedule is these days, you can tell how much I’ve enjoyed the series by how fast I read the first two. You can check out my review of the first book in the series, Divergent, by clicking here.

 

Insurgent Book Description via Amazon

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

Book Review

As my author friend, Krystal Wade, mentioned in the comment section on my Divergent review, book two starts a little slower than the first, as if we had to warm up to Tris’ character after being away awhile. As an avid epic fantasy fan, the pace was still fast enough to keep my interest, especially since I enjoyed the first book and couldn’t wait to find out what happened next.

Now that I’m writing this, I can see why the first fifty pages or so may have lagged. I mentioned in the first review that I enjoyed how much we see into Tris’ thought processes and what she’s feeling. This happens a lot in this first section. We have access to more inner thought and emotion than actual action. Once we’re past the first section, Roth drops Tris right back into the non-stop action and conflict.

During this conflict, we learn more about the factions; how they’re separated, how each one relates to the other, and we even pick up some information about the Factionless.

The one aspect Roth truly impressed me with in Insurgent was the depth of the characterization. She did well with the complexity in Divergent, but really picks it up in this one. Characters you may have thought had nothing to do with the plot come to life in the second book. Many of the two-dimensional secondary characters make choices that wow the reader. Without giving too much detail, they’re the type of decisions that make your eyebrows climb your forehead while you stare at the pages (or screen) for a few minutes wondering if it really just happened that way.

This happens in the final section. Roth reveals a secret about the factions that will leave you salivating for the next book in the Divergent series. This brings up my biggest issue with the book… it had to end! The secret is literally revealed in the final few pages. It’s one of those situations when you want to scream at the author for doing this to you, and then give her a high-five for writing such an awesome ending.

I give Insurgent, book two in the Divergent series, five of five stars. Even with the bit of a slow start, it was well worth the read.

Now for the bad news. Roth mentions on her blog that she doesn’t intend for the final book to come out until late 2013! Oh well. In the meantime, I guess I’ll delve into another one of the hundreds of books on my Kindle.

Grab a copy of Insurgent on Amazon here. If you use Amazon UK, grab a copy here. You can also find Insurgent here on Barnes and Noble.

If you’d like to learn more about Veronica Roth, visit her official author page and blog by clicking here. Follow her on Twitter here. Like her fan page on Facebook here.

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent cover art for book reviewThanks to a moment browsing the book section at our local supermarket, and a suggestion from author friend Krystal Wade, I was introduced to one of my favorite reads in 2012. Divergent, by Veronica Roth, is a dystopian fantasy written in first person present and has been compared to Hunger Games.

Book Description via Amazon

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Book Review

There are a few reasons Divergent has been compared to Hunger Games: they’re both young adult novels and written in first-person present point of view. Beyond that, the dystopian feel is similar. Aspects of their society aren’t perfect, but both of the main characters deal well with what they’re given.

Read my review of Hunger Games by clicking here.

Roth seems to spend more time on the inner workings of her main character than we see in Hunger Games. The reader is in her head and understands what she’s going through on a personal level.

We’re introduced to the faction system (mentioned in the book description) right away and why it’s such a big deal. After this informative beginning, we’re tossed into a whirlwind. Action sequence after action sequence takes place, we enjoy a slight pause while we learn what’s going on in the main character’s head, and then we head right into another action sequence.

The story is simply told yet the dystopian society Roth creates is more than adequate. The one thing that caught my eye every few chapters was the usage of the word “gun.” It’s used throughout the book, but I think only once or twice are we ever told what kind of gun it is. Honestly, it didn’t matter. The rest of the book keeps you so in the story that it rarely crosses your mind to wonder what type of gun the characters are using.

If you enjoyed Hunger Games, I highly suggest you check out Divergent by Veronica Roth. While the similarities are there, the story lines are different enough that you’ll be in for another nail-biting read.

I give Divergent, the first book in the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth, five out of five stars.

Grab a copy of Divergent on Amazon here. If you use Amazon UK, grab a copy here. You can also find Divergent here on Barnes and Noble.

If you’d like to learn more about Veronica Roth, visit her official author page and blog by clicking here. Follow her on Twitter here. Like her fan page on Facebook here.

Book review for the second book in the Divergent Trilogy, Insurgent, coming soon!

Book Review: Final Battle (Book 3 – In Her Name: Redemption) by Michael R. Hicks

I lucked out when my first Kindle freebie eBook happened to be In Her Name: Empire by Michael R. Hicks, which is still free on Amazon today. The In Her Name Series fits in the epic fantasy/sci-fi genre, with romance on the side.

I wasn’t sure to expect. I’d heard horror stories about Indie authors and what they had to offer the literary community yet Hicks proved every one of those stories wrong.

You can find my review of the first book, In Her Name: Empire, here. You can find my review of the second book, In Her Name: Confederation, here.

Book Description for In Her Name: Final Battle (Book 3) via Amazon

In the final book of the In Her Name: Redemption trilogy, Reza Gard awakens in a hospital on Earth after having been in a coma for months. Charged with murder and high treason, he finds himself the scapegoat for a daring plot to assassinate the In Her NamePresident of the Confederation.

Escaping with the help of Jodi Mackenzie, who is now hunted for what she knows about the death of the president, Reza discovers that something is deeply wrong with the Empire: the warriors have lost their will to fight. Compelled to step into a trap set for him and Jodi, the two once again find themselves bound for Erlang.

But this time it is to meet Tesh-Dar, who has been taken prisoner. Captured and sentenced to death, Reza can only watch as a human armada gathers for a strike against the Kreelan homeworld. But the human fleet – and humanity itself – will be doomed to utter annihilation unless he can reach the Empress in time…

Book Review

I gave the first two books in the In Her Name series four out of five stars because I wasn’t quite sure what to think. I enjoyed the stories immensely. They were epic in many ways and well written, yet I couldn’t decide what I thought about the series in its entirety.

Book three, In Her Name: Final Battle, sealed the deal. Hicks brought everything together neatly. Though there wasn’t as much action as in the other two, the political intrigues really pulled the story together.

I took my time reading the previous two but I didn’t have that option this time. I finished it in two days. Here’s a big sorry to my family! I couldn’t pull my nose from my Kindle the whole time.

The two protagonists finagled their way into positions of power and use that power to bring Reza Gard and the Kreelan Empire to their knees. Gard’s friends, both known and unknown, fight to make things right but fear for their lives, and for good reason.

Things don’t end the way the reader expects, or the characters for that matter. We’re left hanging until almost the very end when everything comes together in a meaningful and epic ending, a perfect way to bring the In Her Name story to an end.

I’m all about the baseball metaphors, and Hicks hit the ball out of the park with his first series. I give In Her Name: Final Battle five of five stars, and the trilogy itself five of five stars.

Now it’s time for me to move on to the next three books in the series, or technically the first three books, depending on how you look at it. Hicks inadvertently wrote the six books in the In Her Name series similar to the way the Star Wars movies were released. Books four through six are technically prequels.

If you’re looking for a great epic fantasy and science fiction read, look no further. The first book in the series, In Her Name: Empire, can be found free here on Amazon as of today. You can also buy the first three in the trilogy here on Amazon for $5.99.

If you’re a Barnes and Noble user, you can find the first book in the series here.

If you’d like to learn more about Michael R. Hicks check him out here on his official author page and blog. You can find him here on Twitter, or on his Facebook fan page here.

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