Book Review: A Memory of Light

One of the things I’d like to include on this blog are reviews of books I’m reading. I’d like to review new books regularly (like once a week), but as it sometimes takes me more than a couple days to read a book this will have to happen willy nilly. In other words, you’ll get the review when I’ve read the dern book! It’s been a week since I actually finished A Memory of Light, and I posted a review on my previous blog just days before I created this blog. It was a very personal post for me, more so than usual, and as soon as I created this blog I wanted to post the review on here too. It didn’t feel quite right at the time though. I didn’t want my introductory post to be something I’d already blogged somewhere else, and at the time I was very unsure what I wanted this new blog to be. I since decided I’d like to post my book reviews here, and this is definitely a fitting start for that. For those people who’ve already seen the post, I’d like to add something new though, so I’m adding in a few extra thoughts after the review.

A Memory of Light: My Farewell

A Memory of Light

When I was ten years old, almost sixteen years ago now, I began reading a series which would change me forever. Tonight, at 2:04 am January 13, 2013 I read the last book of this series. Men and women don’t struggle against the Shadow anymore. Or maybe they do? The Dark One is gone…for now. The Third Age is ended. How does one cope with the end of an Age? You may not understand what I mean by all this, and for that I am truly sorry. Let me try and explain.

Sixteen years ago, just as I finished reading The Lord of the Rings for the very first time, I was presented with a book by a few of my older siblings. This book was a paperback copy of The Eye of the World: book one of The Wheel of Time. The paperback version of this story is a staggering 782 pages long; not something a ten year old normally finds appealing, especially when it is merely the first of a then seven book series. Although I can safely say when it comes to books, I was not an average ten year old, this was still a tremendous undertaking. My sister promised me as I started though, that if I just kept on to Chapter 5 it would be well worth it. That night, I reached Chapter 5, and continued reading well past my bedtime. Unfortunately, I still had school so I couldn’t devote all my time to reading, but as luck would have it I was quite sickly that year, so I had more time than usual.

The following summer I lived on the living room couch, only stirring for brief moments when I had to eat or use the toilet or do some chores. I fell asleep on that couch late at night when I could no longer keep my eyes open. Then, I awoke sometime during the day, and—barring any necessary chores or food or other trivial necessities—I returned to my books. I would take this moment to apologize to my parents for being so useless that year, but I’m really not sorry. Not in the least. I devoured all seven books that summer. The day I finished I sat still for a moment. I then showered, called a friend and rode my bike to his house to play something. I believe it was the first time all summer long I had actually done something recreational outside of my own house.

I’ve waited since then—sometimes patiently, mostly not—for each successive book to be released. When they were, I usually devoured them within a day or two of their release. I recommended these books to friends, and bonded with those I had just met over these books. I met three separate people in one week in the middle of Germany who I bonded with over these books. Two of them were already friends. When I asked how they met, they told me they were serving in Iraq together when they discovered they each read “The Books.” They were instant friends, and I knew exactly which books they were talking about without anyone saying a title. I’m certain many other people in the world have had similar experiences. The clever moniker these men gave The Books says it all. These aren’t simply books, or a series. They are so much more—like Doctor Who, but fiction.

That’s the point though, isn’t it? These books may be a clever story created by a mere human, but they are not fiction—not truly. The Books are real, and don’t you dare think I’m talking about the flimsy paper and ink which contains them. As I read the finale of this masterpiece, I knew everyone would be okay. I knew good would triumph in the end. It didn’t stop me from feeling anxious. I don’t cry. It’s not a macho thing. I feel emotions just as strongly as any fourteen year old Twilight fan. My body just doesn’t respond with tears. Thank God. I was so close to every emotion I can think of while reading about this book. I even felt bad when Gawyn died. That’s how crazy this was, and don’t get me started on…well…everyone else. These people aren’t just characters, or fiction. They are my friends. They have been my friends longer than almost every single one of my flesh and blood friends. Now that they’re gone…it hurts.

More spoilers, not everyone dies. They’re gone though. I don’t get to live with them anymore. I don’t even get to visit. I can go back and enjoy the times we’ve had together still. I can still be there when Mat becomes a general for the first time, and when Perrin starts acting like an idiot then totally redeems himself. But that’s it. I don’t get to check in with them and see how life’s going. I don’t even get a damn Bel Tine card. For all intents and purposes, they are dead to me. All I have are memories. It’s enough, I think. Even if it’s not, I’ll always feel blessed for having them. I’ll end with one quick thought: The Books have changed me and shaped my life. They’ve made me a better person. I’m sorry the journey has to end, but it is not the ending. There are no endings to The Wheel of Time. But it is an ending. Sorry as I am for that, I am so flaming happy to have been part of it. Thank you.

Further Thoughts:

I wrote this review all in one sitting. No editing, or outline or anything. There are a few things I’d like to add to it. They could probably each be their own post, but I’ll do them short and sweet. If you’d like to know more, ask in the comments and I’d be happy to give more information.

  • I feel an immense sense of gratitude to Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, the authors of the series, for giving me something so meaningful.
  • This series wasn’t just a part of my life because I read it throughout the years. It infected every aspect of my life just as much as any real person I’ve met. Fun fact: When I was learning html as a fourteen year old I created a Wheel of Time fansite which only functioned on my personal computer.
  • While reading A Memory of Light a few people asked me what I was reading—I was doing it at work, which is NOT against the rules—and of course the follow up question is, “What’s it about?” I cannot answer that question about this series without writing a ten page essay. It has magic, monsters, swords, politics, princesses, scoundrels, and every other hallmark of epic fantasy. It is not about any of that. In a word, it is about life. Only the setting is different.
  • After finishing the series, I have a huge hole in my life. I still have the series, but there’s something very different about a completed series than an unfinished one. I’m not in the middle of it anymore. It’s like losing a religion. Suddenly, God’s not there and you’re left alone.
  • I feel like I’ve entered a new era of my life. Things are different in a way I can’t quite explain. It’s how the New Year or the day after a birthday are supposed to feel but never do.
  • I have two nieces named after characters in this series, and I’ve tried unsuccessfully to convince my wife in the eventuality we have two sons to name one of them Matrim or Thomdril. That conversation isn’t yet over.

Lastly, It’s been a week since I wrote this post, and I’m going to tell you what my life has been like since then. I’ve felt all of the things I mentioned in the bullets. At first, I felt them all very acutely. Now, life has dulled the sensation. It’s still there, just not quite as sharp unless I rip open the stitches with a move like reposting this review. For sixteen years I’ve been looking forward to the next book, checking news online, reading blogs, reading theories online and discussing them with family and friends. That part of my life is suddenly gone, and that’s a big part of where the hole comes from. I sometimes have to remind myself it’s over. It’s not coming back. Move on. I’m doing a good job of moving on. I’ve got a new blog. I’m writing a book that you may or may not ever get to read. I’m more involved in social networking (but not Farmville! Not ever!). I’ve also been playing a new video game and making tremendous strides in games on my phone at work. Life has moved on, and so have I (kind of). Now I just need to obsess more over the Hobbit, and I’ll be fine.

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One response to “Book Review: A Memory of Light

  1. Good thoughts. Moving on, we look for some additional, interesting posts! 🙂

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