“Loial son of Arent son of Halen, had secretly always wanted to be hasty.”
As a hasty human, I listened to this book almost non-stop, narrator on 2X (3X for the slow parts) so that I could get to the end. Waiting almost 2 decades for Tarmon Gai’don made me impatient. I’ll certainly listen to it again, this time on normal speed, but wanted to jot down a few things in a spoiler-free review for my fellow impatient humans before I start over and savor it more slowly.
I feel that I should warn people that A Memory of Light is one of the most exhausting books I’ve ever read. Half-way through and I was already battle weary. Three quarters through and I felt that the whole thing was hopeless. None of the preceding books have come close to approaching the intensity of this final volume. It truly felt like the end of all things. It was glorious. It was heartbreaking. It was so many things but, like most WoT books, it wasn’t perfect.
First, a few of the good things. There are so many surprises that I never felt that I could anticipate what was going to happen next. Many threads are tied up, most in a satisfactory manner. Talmanes gets more screen time (I’ve always love Talmanes). You really get the feeling that the entire world is at war, and it’s done in a way that is believable.
The Pervara and Androl storyline almost stole the show. I just couldn’t get enough of them. I’d love to see a follow-up short story about these two in a fantasy anthology like the Legends series.
Good people die. GASP! Oh yes, while Team Jordan doesn’t exactly go about it George R.R. Martin-style, they definitely make up for lost time in weeding down the character list. Some of the deaths are meaningless, some are tide-turners and not all of them were as touching as they could have been. The death of a few of my favorite characters left me feeling oddly detached, while the death of another character had me bawling more than I did for Dumbledor.
Now for the not so good. There are a few deus ex machina contrivances that grated on me, but the worst was about Perrin. Perrin’s special abilities have never been particularly spectacular and it really feels like they got amped up so that he wouldn’t be overshadowed by the other two ta’veren boys. I’ve never been a huge fan of Perrin’s storyline once he married Faile, so maybe it’s just me.
Mat, one of my favorite characters, has deteriorated into not much more than a clown. I didn’t mind his comic relief bits so much in the last two novels, but he’s a pivotal character in this novel and has become almost a parody of Mat.
Everything Padan Fain. Sad waste of a potentially great villain. I really haven’t cared about him since he left the Whitecloaks and here it almost seemed like he was thrown in as an afterthought. I wish they would have just left him out of it. Terrible.
Another reviewer stated that some of the accents for characters have changed, and I have to agree. I’ve just spent 3 months listening to the 14 previous books and there are several minor differences in the ‘voice’ of some characters in this final novel. It was mildly distracting in the beginning, but nowhere near as the egregious differences in Roy Dotrice’s erratic narrations of the first/last Song of Ice and Fire novels.
Unlike Tolkein’s Return of the King, we don’t get a lot of wrap up. If I had to summarize the flow of the novel, it goes something like this, maneuver, maneuver, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, reposition your troops, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, fight, end. Sure, it’s Tarmon Gai’don, but I guess I’m one of those people that prefer a bit more exposition about what happens afterward. These are our friends, some of whom we know better than our own family members, and I would have preferred to know more about what happens to them when the dust settles as we’ve been assured that there won’t be any sequels or prequels.
As far as my rating, I take away ½ star for pacing, ½ star for annoying plot devices, ½ star for missed opportunities, which leaves 3 ½ stars. I’ll round that up to 4 because, though it often infuriates me, The Wheel of Time is an old friend and I love it despite it’s flaws.
Elementary writing, poor narrator performance, story line I couldn't get into...where do I start? I love fantasy and scifi and was excited by a story that promised both elements. First chapter was pretty slow and felt like a young adult story, then the second chapter has characters talking pretty boldly about sex, so maybe not? Both my husband and I tried to give it a listen, but neither of us lasted past the first few chapters. The narrator is not as polished as I'm use to (maybe I'm spoiled by so many great narrators out there today, but this guy seemed about flat and emotionless.)
I recommend that you save a credit and skip it.
I really wouldn't have reviewed METAtropolis, except that I read METAtropolis: Cascadia and, well, it's kind of necessary. This book is short, and it's not terrible, but it's also not great. The stories never really reach out and grab you like they should, but METAtropolis: Cascadia is a very worthy read, and it's better to have invested some time in the 'backstory' of this very differently conceived future dystopia if you're going to read that one.
The first story about Tyger, Tyger is a very integral part to the first and last stories in the sequal. While the character of Tyger, Tyger is never fleshed out in a satisfactory way, it is compelling. If, perhaps, the author could have given us just a little bit more. Why was he so enigmatic? What, exactly, was his true purpose? I'd love to read a short story dedicated to his history before he arrived in the Cascadian provinces.
I love Scalzi's take on the cliched disposable 'Red Shirt' ensign phenomenon. I don't know a single person who watches Star Trek and hasn't said that they'd NEVER volunteer for an away mission if they weren't one of the big stars. So Scalzi makes this the central story to his plot, and also manages to poke fun at other related topics such as Trek philosophy, time travel 'rules', actors, Comic Cons, 'scifi science' and alien silliness (Ice Sharks? Really!?!) And, while Redshirts never takes itself too seriously, it still manages to present thought provoking dilemmas for it's intrepid heroes.
I think I'll leave out my favorite moment, so as not to give away the plot too early. My second favorite moment was the time travel sequence.
Yes, I have listened to several Wheaton-narrated performances by Cline, Scalzi and Wheaton, and this is another solid listen. Wil Wheaton is absolutely the most appropriate reader for this book, given the subject matter. He did a great job. The only thing that I found distracting was the use of, "he said," "she said," "Dahl said," etc, after almost every spoken line. While not Wheaton's fault, it was terribly distracting and even a bit irritating after time. I hope Mr. Scalzi invests in a thesaurus for his next book. The word "said" ends in a hard stop that is quite noticeable when repeated several times in a short time-frame. It really kills the flow of the dialog.
Absolutely. I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of scifi, especially Star Trek geeks like myself. I think that it was very cleverly done and will be sure to make any Trek fan roll with laughter.
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