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Luckers Official Non-Spoiler Review

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Lucker’s Official Non-Spoiler A Memory of Light Review

 

So, now that I’m free from the restrictions of my NDA I’m basically going to do two reviews—this one is going to be non-spoiler (it’s on the Pre-Release Spoiler board so I am assuming you’ve read those, but even then I’m not going into any details on those spoilers either). Later, maybe this weekend, once more people have the book and we move to open the spoiler board to a more comprehensive thread range I’ll post a second full spoiler review that will likely be an expansion on this one to add specific detail and references, for tonight though hopefully this will prove enjoyable—or at least interesting—to those of you waiting for the release (and hopefully not too maddening. No long now. )

 

General Thoughts

 

Okay, as many of you know I have been fiercely critical of Brandon’s efforts on the Wheel—and yes, I’m probably not in love with this book. I will say this, however. It is a huge step up from TofM. For that matter it is actually a step up from tGS as well, and I won’t be surprised if the general consensus is that it is the best of Brandon’s three (though personally I think I will always prefer tGS, for though this is a better book in some ways on a technical level, I feel tGS was more of a Wheel of Time novel in style), nor where people will sit it in relation to some of Jordan’s works—tSR, LoC—you know, the bad ones [eyewink, yes I’m joking].

 

Moreover, it is evident that in this book both Brandon and Team Jordan did listen to us, and did try to resolve issues that have been under discussion. Not all of them of course—I don’t think it a spoiler to tell you that you will be seeing the word tempest, at least once or twice (perhaps Brandon’s version of the Necessary)—nor are all of the attempts to answer them done well, but I always did say that all we had a right to ask was that they try, and they did.

 

Ultimately, I was right about stuff, wrong about stuff (though largely happy with why I was wrong and what occurred in its place—I’ll speak more on this sort of stuff in my spoiler thread when it goes live, obviously]. There are a lot of the same issues—hyperbole, the jokes being taken that one sentence too far—but these are toned down compared to earlier books. Brandon’s voice is a lot stronger, but so too is his writing (in places).  There are still out of character stuff, and out of culture stuff, though the former is more subtly handled, as are the winks to the reader.

 

Ultimately, I would say this—I enjoyed the book for what it was [for me]—a streamlined trip to the end. That probably leads me into the next set of thoughts, and what I think has been the most common concern I’ve seen raised (and felt myself).

 

The Question of the Day—Was It Rushed?

 

Portrayal of the Plot and Subplots

 

I suppose the first thing that occurred to me as I read, and thus perhaps a good place to begin this review, was in that the book does not feel rushed. To be frank, this startled me—perhaps even greatly, and I do not think I was alone in feeling like Brandon would have to rush through many scenes in order get things to the end. Instead each scene does roll across what felt an appropriate time for the events within it—at no stage is there a feel of ‘okay, you need to know this, so this happened, move along we have to be home by nightfall’.

 

That’s not to say sacrifices aren’t present. A lot of secondary plotlines are never touched on—anything not directly touching on the main arc was mostly left to slide, and even the things that did peripherally involve the main arc were touched very lightly (more usually relying on inference for resolution). Now, mind you, we always knew there would be a fair number of things that weren’t resolved at the end of the series—Jordan was always clear on this. I could perhaps have wished we’d been given some hints that some of the completely absent plotlines were still progressing and a nod to how they might continue post TG, but perhaps that’s just fanboy-wanting-everything.

 

I will add that most of these absences can’t really be felt within the story. There are a few exceptions were along the way you think ‘wait… that happened how if we haven’t been told anything about this??’ but mostly those moments are few and far between, and the story flows on quite smoothly—which is not to say that there aren’t several moments where, if you know the story and the world you pause and go ‘okay, why didn’t they explore this plotline whilst this was going on?’ (those moments are actually beyond common, so be prepared if you’re a world junkie like me) but there is a difference between that and the absence of a subplot that would have been needed to make the plot that is being revealed make sense—the latter, for the most part, is not an issue.

 

I’m not sure if that makes sense, lol. Anyway, I’m going to move on now but, yes—scenes take the appropriate length of in world time, and page exposure, but the book is very focussed on its main arc, and doesn’t deviate, which can be a good thing, but can also at times be a little sad—at least for those of us for whom the depth and complexity of the Wheel was the primary attraction, as opposed to getting to the end and learning what happened.

 

That, I suspect, will come down to personal taste.

 

Depth and Complexity of the Plot

 

This is, perhaps, the place where the amount of material Brandon had to cover became problematic (and why I understand those who have been saying the book DID feel rushed, despite what I just said above). Whilst the appropriate time span is spent on each scene, there is a definite sense of superficiality to much of the depiction—in particular the world, and the character work. This is not always the case—there are some thoroughly developed scenes, including the majority of what I regard personally to be the top two most important plot arcs of the book, and what I feel to be one of the most beautiful scenes in the series.

 

But, for the most part, the arcs seemed to almost follow a formula—specifically, an attempt for depth in the initial scene [for the most part succeeding, though in some, not], and then the arc becomes WoT-Lite, a gentle skim through the world, a paddling at knee depth, before the concluding scene regains some depth (occasionally with a dive in the middle to refresh).  Some might actually prefer this, in particular those who had major issues with what Jordan called ‘cinematic writing’, but for me it makes the depiction feel pale.

 

The concluding scenes mostly do tend to hold their depth unlike some of the initial scenes, though they do have their own issues which I’ll speak of now.

 

Resolutions and Confrontations

 

Unfortunately one of the results of the shallower skim through the world is that when I reached the resolutions of some arcs, I did not feel invested in the scenes, even when it was quite well written or highly emotive (and, sadly, at times this combined with the high degree of hyperbole to lend a caricaturish overtone to some scenes which viewed alone in a vacuum might simply just have been potent).

 

The confrontations did not fare any better, at least to me. The failure to develop in-world, character motivated tension left them feeling too often like Goodkind-esque straw man debates where one character is propped into an untenable position to be knocked down by another. This was by no means all of them, and as I said what I regard to be the two most important arcs fared very well, which is hugely important—and in truth this may well come down to personal taste, but the whole thing ties together—shallow arcs leading to superficial confrontations—and leave many of the resolutions feeling somewhat abrupt, and even contrived.  When you add all this to Brandon’s tendency to tip his hand too soon, it does rob a lot of the sense of impact from the book—though perhaps that won’t be as much an issue to someone who isn’t as geekily steeped in fanboy theory-making as I am, lol.

 

Conclusion

 

Ultimately, though the book is very focussed in scope, and streamlined in getting itself there, it does do an excellent job at the one thing it needed to show us most—the Last Battle is come, the Shadow hangs across the land, and all that is teeters on the edge of a blade.  Have fun at Tarmon Gai’don!!

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As one of "those of us for whom the depth and complexity of the Wheel was the primary attraction, as opposed to getting to the end and learning what happened", some of the points you raise are a little troubling.

Over the years I have found myself less interested in the mechanics of the actual, final confrontation or seeing the sub-plots brought to some particular resolution. Rather, it is the interaction of the plots and characters that will dictate the final outcome that has kept me reading time and again. What I was hoping to see, is how these meld together to reflect the breadth of this series. I am a little worried now that I may be disappointed in that respect.
Still, I look forward to reading the final tome tomorrow.
 

Great review,

Thanks Luckers.

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Over the years I have found myself less interested in the mechanics of the actual, final confrontation or seeing the sub-plots brought to some particular resolution. Rather, it is the interaction of the plots and characters that will dictate the final outcome that has kept me reading time and again. 

 

I echo this sentiment completely.  I was disappointed in Crossroads of Twilight when it came out because I felt there was so little plot progression, but now I find it to be one of my go-to books for picking up and flicking to a random page because there are so many little things to pick up on.  I've either matured as a reader or I know all the main plot points by heart so I have nothing else to do but start digging deeper (probably both).  My fear (which was present even before Luckers' review) is I'm going to like aMoL but years from now will have little reason to scour through it for those secondary character / plot-point nuggets.

 

Luckers, do you feel like some of the 'missing' secondary sub-plots were written (or at least considered) but cut out of the book?  After all, River of Souls is going to be released in that upcoming anthology.  Maybe the problem was that some of those sections were cut out without inserting some kind of nod to their occurrence in the remaining sections.  I mean, that doesn't really redeem some of the superficiality concerns, but might help to explain why some things weren't mentioned at all.

 

Thanks Luckers.  I've found your opinions to be substantially unbiased and reliable, and appreciate the review.  

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I guess I am in the middle of the scale, then :)

 

Okay, I think BS's books were lacking in several points (like description of cultures, politics machinations, subtle hints and teases), points that made me fall in love with Wheel of Time. But after the almost-zero main plot advancement in book 8-10, the over-expansion and over-exposure of several plots, I welcome BS with all my heart. His lack of finer points is acceptable, just to get the saga to its deserving end.

 

I think I will have a mix emotion about aMoL. I will enjoy it, no doubt, but I will also have plenty of "what if RJ wrote all of this" moments.

 

 

Thank you for your review, Luckers.

Edited by esvath

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I am about halfway through the book and would echo Lucker's review so far. I will say that it isn't bad, the book is still enjoyable, but Brandon is not Robert Jordan. No one else could be. 

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Great job Luckers. I can always trust you to shoot from the hip and give us exactly what you are thinking. That is something you don't get enough credit for at times. Thank you for your honesty and all your work around these parts.

 

I'm around page 600 on my read and have heard things look up from here. Have had trouble immersing myself up until this point, very curious to see if that changes by the end.

Edited by Suttree

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According to Brandon, the last 100,000 or so words of AMOL are pure RJ (with minor textual editing for clarity), so imagine it would better align with the series as a whole. 

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Wait, did people love The Gathering Storm, and dislike Towers of Midnight? I'm new to Dragonmount, but it was the opposite for me. 

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Thank you Luckers. For the review as well as for all you have contributed here. You always manage to be informative and entertaiing.

 

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Wait, did people love The Gathering Storm, and dislike Towers of Midnight? I'm new to Dragonmount, but it was the opposite for me. 

 

Well, I don't know about love and hate, but I do think a majority of the people here find tGS superior. ToM had jarring issues with its non-chronological chapter order. Some feel that the writing is less polished and that it's also littered with more continuity errors. The pacing is also rough, though I'd argue that to some degree this last one is Jordan's fault. This topic isn't for discussing tGS and ToM, though, so if you'd like to discuss it more there is this topic: http://www.dragonmount.com/forums/topic/76523-thisguys-topic-on-brandons-work/

 

Anyway, I love reading these reviews. Thanks Luckers, thanks Terez. I promised myself I wouldn't even read the non-spoiler ones prior to reading AMoL but I couldn't resist!

Edited by Agitel

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Guest PiotrekS

Thanks Terez, thanks Luckers!

 

Very interesting... I can't wait to read your spoilery reviews.

 

 

@Atheose - I feel the same way you do. The majority feels differently.

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On a technical level, both TGS and ToM have some serious issues. However, TGS was very neat from a thematic point of view (Egwene and Rand mirror each other throughout the book), while ToM feels more like an amalgamation of plots (in such a setting, technical issues take the front stage, which in this case was unfortunate).

 

Now, the last book always gets a popularity boost, but when the dust settles, I fully expect ToM to be remembered on the same level as TPoD, where personally I think TGS holds up to more robust entries, like ACoS (maybe even LoC).

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Here's mine:

 

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/78963-spoiler-free-impressions-of-amol/

 

There are what some may construe as mild spoilers. There's one sentence lifted from the book, though without context, and its not a sentence that reveals anything new. 

 

I can see where Luckers is coming from, and I don't wholly disagree. Its just that, when it came down to it, these were characters I had read for so long, the strength of that propelled me to the end. And I liked the ending. A lot. I liked that the resolutions were done as they were.

 

As to the shallowness of certain arcs and characters, I agree. There were times when the characters seemed to lose their voice, and become stand-ins saying and doing what they would. But it wove back together well enough for me.

 

I would also like to say that the greatest weakness of aMoL is that it came after tGS and ToM. The greatest weakness of this book is that it is a third act, but was not immediately preceded by the first two acts. I think a lot of emotional and thematic impact was lost because of that. Reading the finale, I'm more convinced than every that RJ was right: this had to be one long book, no matter how many pages, and how many volumes, it took. I think a straight telling of the story from early tGS to late aMoL would have been the ultimate ending to WoT. Barring that, this ended things well enough.

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According to Brandon, the last 100,000 or so words of AMOL are pure RJ (with minor textual editing for clarity), so imagine it would better align with the series as a whole. 

Where did he state this?

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I would also like to say that the greatest weakness of aMoL is that it came after tGS and ToM. The greatest weakness of this book is that it is a third act, but was not immediately preceded by the first two acts. I think a lot of emotional and thematic impact was lost because of that. Reading the finale, I'm more convinced than every that RJ was right: this had to be one long book, no matter how many pages, and how many volumes, it took. I think a straight telling of the story from early tGS to late aMoL would have been the ultimate ending to WoT. Barring that, this ended things well enough.

 

So basically, we're screwed but future generations of readers that can read all the books straight through will get the full impact of the ending? 

 

 

 

According to Brandon, the last 100,000 or so words of AMOL are pure RJ (with minor textual editing for clarity), so imagine it would better align with the series as a whole. 

Where did he state this?

 

He said 10,000; not 100,000.  100,000 would be over a quarter of the book.

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So basically, we're screwed but future generations of readers that can read all the books straight through will get the full impact of the ending?

I wouldn't say either of those things. We did miss out on what this could have been, but what we got gives us s good enough idea. And barring a redacted version that has been worked on to remove errors, simply reading the books in one stretch isn't going to do it either.

 

 

 

According to Brandon, the last 100,000 or so words of AMOL are pure RJ (with minor textual editing for clarity), so imagine it would better align with the series as a whole. 

Where did he state this?

 

He said 10,000; not 100,000.  100,000 would be over a quarter of the book.
Edited by yoniy0
Tried to fix the quoting tags (and apparently succeeded)

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In looking back at the blog postings, RJ was said to have done about 10%, which in a 300,000 word book would be about 30,000 words. That would be around the last 120 pages or so.

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In looking back at the blog postings, RJ was said to have done about 10%, which in a 300,000 word book would be about 30,000 words. That would be around the last 120 pages or so.

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What Brandon was given from RJ specifically on the last three books was 200 manuscript pages containing some finished scenes (including the final scene) and some summaries of other scenes, some lines of dialogue here and there, some "I might do this, or I might do this," etc. It's definitely not the last 120 pages of the book.

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Thanks for the review, Luckers. My copy is in town, but not yet at my door (as I track it online).

 

Though Jordan's pacing troubled me at times (in books 7-10), I'm firmly in the camp that loved the fullness of the world, and the multiple viewpoints and many points of view.The WOT was a world of it's own, not just following a couple main characters as they moved through it. That, too, had it's issues, but the benefits were worth the cost.

 

After reading your review, I hope the same can be said of steamlined stuff. Almost everything that has bothered you has bothered me also. Especially about ToM. However, my expectations after tGS were so high, perhaps I expected too much. But tGS got my hopes up (Egwene's arc was beautifully done, as was Rand's, and the Verin thing was just amazing) that I couldn't wait for Moiraine's rescue and Rand's meeting with Egwene in ToM. Splat!

 

This time, it is just the reverse. I'm both excited and terrified to read it. But after ToM, I'm setting my expectations a LOT lower. My fears have gotten the better of me on this book. But, if you think it is an improvement over ToM, I think you've given my some hope again that the book will be well worth it.

 

Damn! I failed to keep my expectations down all the way.

 

See everyone in a week when I get done. Gonna savor this one.

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Here is mine.

Your summarizing quote gave me chills, it is my favorite scene in the first book, and Oh well CHILLS

 

That is my favorite scene in Eye as well. And one of the best in the series, IMHO.

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