A worthy ending to an epic series, A Memory of Light is the 14th and final installment in the Wheel of Time series. Each book is ~900 pages, so if you include the prequel, that’s >13,000 words. It’s Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings on steroids.
The series is a classic good vs. evil story with a cast of characters from different cultures. The world building behind these books is amazing and the back story is rich. The idea is that the Dark One who is outside time, is escaping from the prison where he was locked away from the world. There is only one hero who can face and defeat him. Of course, that hero needs the help of the world—anyone fighting on the side of the Light. This book is the culmination of quests, politics, hunts, and plots leading up to the epic Last Battle (a single chapter of 190 pages). Good finally faces evil and… well, I can’t tell you who wins. Let’s just say I was satisfied with the outcome.
Theology: Should we eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
There are a lot of parallels in The Wheel of Time with biblical theology. The Wheel of Time was made by the Creator who locked the Dark One away from the Pattern much like one day Satan and his minions will be locked away in the abyss for a thousand years (Revelatioin 20:3). After a thousand years, Satan will be released and will gather together a great force for the final epic battle where the evil army will surround the saints in the “beloved city” (Revelation 20:7-10). Good prevails and Satan and his minions are locked away for eternity and a new age begins.
That’s essentially a fair summary of The Wheel of Time. The Dark one was released on the earth to torment people until the Last Battle where he will either prevail or be banished by the Dragon Reborn (our hero, born again prior to the Last Battle). After the Last Battle, a new age begins. Unlike the Bible, this is one of many ages. The battle against good and bad happen over and over again. Each time, the Dragon is reborn (reincarnated) to fight the Dark One.
Interestingly, the Dragon must struggle with how to fight the Dark One. Should he lock him away again? Should he kill him? Should he set him free? The story to some extent explores free will vs. predestination. Can there be a good without bad to counter it? What were Adam and Eve like before they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Did they have free will if they didn’t have knowledge of evil? Do you have choice when you can’t make a wrong decision?
I don’t know the answers to these questions, but I know that God does. For me, I would love to be incapable of making a wrong decision. I don’t want to suffer, die, be sick, be sad, worry, etc. Get rid of the evil and bring on the New Heaven and New Earth.
But the Creator in these books is a distant force. Life is shaped by the Pattern—life is like a tapestry and each person is one of the strings. Fate is left largely to change and personal decisions.
While there is cursing, it’s specific to the fantasy world: Light! Blood and bloody ashes! Etc. There’s not really any sex, although one character is “married” (I’m using that term loosely) to three women. Everyone else is paired off and properly married. There is a lot of war and killing in this book but it’s not overly graphic. There’s no blood spurting or entrails flapping. Of course, it’s a 900 page book so it’s meant for older readers.
There’s drinking and gambling by one rogue character (who happens to be my favorite, actually). But most of the intrigue is politics, plots, and getting everyone coordinated for the Last Battle. There’s no time for social issues.
So what about you? Have you read these books? What did you think? If you haven’t read them—what’s your favorite epic fantasy?