I was wrong.
The flaws that prevented me from enjoying the Wheel of Time a few years ago, it turns out, were due almost entirely to the delay between books and my lack of willingness to reread/refamiliarize for clarity.
The pacing isn’t perfect (over 100,000+ pages, it’d be surprising if it was). but the 14 books make for a great experience. Now that the series is complete, I’d be happy to recommend it to anyone interested in a sprawling world grand fantasy.
The end delivered on the build up and promise of the initial books. Thinking about the transition, it’s clear that Sanderson worked hard to emulate Jordan’s style–and succeeded brilliantly. There were minor differences, but none that I couldn’t chalk up to Jordan writing at his best.
These two books are action packed. The world is ending and the heroes aren’t quite ready for it–but there’s no time.
Rand’s acceptance of his fate and developing wisdom feel earned; it’s great to see the other characters so surprised by his development and rapid change.
Perrin succeeds at embracing the wolf, but struggles appropriately. Master Luhan’s advice near the end rings true–as does Perrin’s surprised realization about his restraint.
Mat remains Mat, even when he is called upon to be the greatest general the world has known. His duel with Demandred is extensive (in page count), but it has to be. So many good people die, but that emphasizes the incredibly high stakes, and… honestly, if many more had survived, it would have strained credulity.
Again, the series was well done and the conclusion was earned. The characters went through an immense amount, but remained sympathetic, interesting, and reacted authentically throughout.
The end is final enough; there are projections toward the future, threads left hanging… but it’s a new world. I do wonder if anyone will bother with fan-fic after the series’ end… so much was resolved that seeing how people react to the great events would be fascinating, but you can’t match the excitement of the last battle without feeling derivative. [Well, that, and given the tremendous slaughter, the whole world needs trauma counseling.]