I’ve read a lot about this book since finishing it yesterday. Most negative reviews are:
– the series has sucked since book 3 or (5 or 8 or whenever)
– Sanderson sucks. As in the previous books he’s ruined the pacing, plot, descriptions and characterizations. Especially Mat.
Really? This is the 14th book. The 3rd by Sanderson. And you bought on release…
I know lots of folks who hold those opinions who stopped reading at some point. That makes sense.
I liked the book. Not lived, but liked. It was solid and exciting and an excellent wrap up of the plot threads.
On Sanderson – he is a different writer than Jordan. He has different strengths and different flaws. Within that framework, I uphold he did a fine job on this book.
There is a recent essay by Doctorow that highlights and potentially explains the feelings of difference.
The two central tenets of the book:
1) wrap up plot lines, character arcs, and prophecies
2) show The Last Battle
The result is a book with some combat prep, some long awaited reunions, battle and a brief denouement.
The highlights of the book are the battle scenes. They are intense and suitably climatic. The book is 906 pages long and has a 202 page single chapter called The Last Battle. And that chapter is neither the beginning nor end of the conflict.
Everyone is given their moment. The three Emmond’s Field leads, their 5 wives/girlfriends, the remaining Forsaken and 6 other main characters. So do many others from minor to tiny roles. Remember the series had over 2000 characters. The focus is firmly on the three leads though and seems appropriate. That likely means your favorite character gets little or no time, but it remains amazing how many are worked in.
For me the flaws were small. The battle was just too long. A climax can’t be maintained over 400 pages. But it tried hard. With so much material to cover some endings were lacking in emotional heft – though some were quite well done. I disagree with the philosophy espoused at the end and thus the final resolution falls a bit flat for me. And finally, for a series that had books worth of digressions and 120 page prologues (60 in this book) the denouement was very short.
In short, if you are still reading this series, the finale delivers the goods. There are few legitimate reasons to dislike it.
Lots to like though. And it was very satisfying to read the last words and turn the final page on this epic.