I plan on reading it again before I do a proper retrospective entry, but I wanted to do a quick post about my impressions first, now that the dust has settled and I finally - after 20 years - got to read the ending.
This book is incredible.
I've read a lot of fantasy, and this is one of the best fantasy books I've ever read, period. It is amazing. It is a completely fitting end to this series. Whereas some series will have the final climax in a few chapters, The Wheel of Time has a climax of an entire book. The battles in this book put other famous fantasy battles to shame in terms of scope and emotional impact. Pelennor Fields? The Black Gates? Mere skirmishes compared to this. The 200 page chapter entitled "The Last Battle" will blow your mind and put your emotions to the test.
I laughed, I cried, I gasped in surprise and shock - it sounds like a cliche, but it is true, my wife will attest to that. No WoT book has moved me like this one. It was all I hoped for and more. Many will analyze every word and line and point out inconsistencies and incorrect troop totals and out-of-character moments and blah blah blah - forget all that. It's not going to be perfect so don't waste your time or energy. Just read it and enjoy the greatest ending to any fantasy currently out there, and know that Sanderson found a way to get it to the ending that Jordan wanted.
Is the book exactly what Jordan would have done? Who cares. It's an awesome book and I can't say enough about it. After all the build up in the previous 13 volumes, this was the WoT book I've been waiting for.
If you are someone who has quit the series out of frustration, and don't know whether it's worth finishing - trust me, it is. It is completely worth the journey. I'm so glad I didn't quit after Crossroads of Twilight.
Thank you so much to Brandon Sanderson and everyone else involved in completing this series. It means a lot to me.
He came like the wind, like the wind touched everything, and like the wind, was gone.
Book 14 – A Memory of Light – Part 1
Reference – The Big White Book
Prequel – New Spring
Book 13 – Towers of Midnight
Book 12 – The Gathering Storm
Book 11 – Knife of Dreams
Book 10 – Crossroads of Twilight
Book 9 – Winter's Heart
Book 8 – The Path of Daggers
Book 7 – A Crown of Swords
Book 6 – Lord of Chaos
Book 5 – The Fires of Heaven
Book 4 – The Shadow Rising
Book 3 – The Dragon Reborn
Book 2 – The Great Hunt
Book 1 – The Eye of the World