Book review: A Memory of Light

This novel is a fitting end to the Wheel of Time series as a whole. It’s a 900+ page hardcover book consisting almost entirely of military action and individual fight scenes. This isn’t a huge surprise (it is the Last Battle, after all), but it just got tedious, especially since I so often ran into characters I didn’t remember — all of the Forsaken appear, but half of them have changed their names and I couldn’t tell them apart to begin with; about 50 pages from the end a character appears for the first time in the book (and maybe in the last three; I remembered his name but could remember nothing about him); and there are so many one-off characters and name checks that while I was comfortable with the main cast by a few hundred pages in I wasn’t sure if some of the names were new or backstory characters. The battle between Rand and the Dark One unfolds predictably (except for some details about the magical tools which I simply didn’t remember) and the way it had to.
Many of the above issues are less problematic for those reading (or re-reading) the series with fresh eyes. Less forgivable are the character deaths. The novel is a bloodbath for the forces of Light, but in terms of the core cast it’s shockingly light on fatalities. Many people die, some of them in a good depiction of the shock and randomness of war — but others go into battle for a glorious sacrifice, make their sacrifice, and then somehow come out alive on the next page. It’s frustrating.

So, not a great novel. But oxymoronically, it does make me want to read the series again (or at least the first 7 novels, when things actually happened) in order to better remember what the quoted prophecies and some of the referenced events and characters were all about way back when.