"A Memory of Light" http://www.amazon.com/A-Memory-Light-Wheel-Time/dp/0765325950, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson was a fitting ending to the Wheel of Times series. Although not without flaws, the authors finalized most of the main story lines, answered a lot of the open questions, and did a very good job of concluding the series with tons of action.
The Wheel of Time series http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wheel_of_Time, stretching through 14 volumes, and over 23 years in the writing, started with a bang. In a field where typical story lines were limited to three volumes, Jordan chose to tell a huge story that was not easily reduced to a typical fantasy. There were 6 main characters and like a Cecil B. DeMille movie, there was a cast of thousands of minor characters. In some ways the minor characters were as fully realized as the major characters. The political infighting and jousting with the bad guys consumed thousands of pages and trees.
But, But, after volume 5 or 6, the story started to suffer bloat. Maybe because the novels were supposed to end after 6, but Jordan kept adding to the narrative. The novels themselves in hardcover appeared to get shorter. The print got bigger, the margins larger. More importantly, the advancement of the story slowed down to a crawl. Hundreds of pages of a novel would deal with minor characters like the Black Ajah or minor action. There were very long prologues mostly discussing the minor character's plans and actions (see "A Crown of Swords" - 56 pages; "Winter's Heart" - 86 pages and "Crossroads of Twilight" - 100 pages). There were Forsaken characters killed off (Lanfear), who were rebodied and came alive again. There were new villains introduced 8 or 9 volumes into the story when there were already enough villains. Aiel channelers came alive even in the last few volumes. It was like a season of an odd soap opera or the television show "Dallas". A main character was kidnapped and put in a box. He escaped. In another volume a different main character was kidnapped. Perrin spent two different novels trying to find Faile. I read the first 4 volumes of the series at least 3 times, and had to re-read prior volumes each time a new volume came out just to remember all the characters. We skimmed chapters and I was not alone. People read volumes over and over again just to keep track of characters and hundreds of websites sprang up just to keep track of little clues that Jordan left in the text as to the secret identities of the Forsaken and clues about the story arcs.
A legion of fans quit reading the series altogether tired of a novelist who did not advance forward the main aspects of story or maybe it was the simpering behavior of female characters. The powerful Forsaken sometimes seemed merely vapid wimps and other times were exceedingly powerful. A six volume series stretched to 8 novels, then 10, and finally, some of the main characters started to act like main characters.
And then Robert Jordan was struck down in the prime of his life from a frightening deadly disease. Millions of his fans mourned the loss of his talent. It was a tragedy.
The Jordan family, however hired Brandon Sanderson to come in and finish the series. Clearly, with the thousands of characters in action, it would not be easy to quickly settle the action, and the publisher announced that the series would end with a three volume trilogy.
Sanderson did a good job of bringing an ending to the series in the last two volumes prior to this one.
Bringing us to this last volume "A Memory of Light", which despite some flaws, was well done.
On the plus side, (a) Mat, who was a personal favorite of mine, had a lot of action and distinguished himself again as a pivotal character, master tactician and a force in the big three of Perrin, Rand and Matt; (b) Androl and Pevara broke free from the Black Tower and showed fittingly the merits of the Asha'man; (c) Egwene showed what a powerful character she was; (d) Leilwin Shipless regained her honor; (e) Lan and Tam showed their mastery of their weapons and (f) Talmanes and Aludra showed their mettle. On the negative side, not that many of the major characters suffered any harm at all; the Rand dream scenes were interesting thought exercises, but just not that great; Perrin's fight against Slayer was just not that engrossing and where was Moiraine and Nynaeve in this final volume. Both merely come off as feeders of energy to Rand, and I cannot say what will ultimately happen with the Aiel. I think the prophecy about their lives going forward was not really handled adequately in the story. But its a minor point. There was just too much of this huge story to handle adequately. The explosion of characters just did not lend itself to a single tidy ending.
And I liked the story.
I thought the way Rand finally imprisoned the Dark One was fitting and true to the story. I thought how the Forsaken disrupted the allies' plans was a good touch. I thought having more than Trollocs and Fades as the enemy was a good idea. I thought how Demandred was defeated was very apt -- not power, but skill brought him down. I thought M'Hael's end was equally well done. I liked Birgitte's story. It always made sense to me, who would be her Gaidal, but the timing did not work out -- it was well done how Jordan and Sanderson handled it even if the sounder of the Horn of Valere was mostly a cop out. At least I think I know who Gaidal is. Unlike some, I liked how Fain met his end. I liked that Lanfear finally was not able to use guile to control a man.
The Last Battle chapter - 190 pages of pure action showing all of the various characters at their best was excellent.
I am not sure what to make of what ultimately happens with Perrin, Mat and Rand.
My understanding was that Jordan planned to continue the story with Mat and the Seanchan, so it was always clear that he was going to survive. Without spoiling the Rand story its not clear that the last few pages regarding his powers make sense.
All in all a fitting end of a great, albeit flawed series. It is presently ranked as the number one hardcover fiction book in America http://www.tor.com/blogs/2013/01/a-memory-of-light-debuts-at-1-on-the-new-york-times-bestseller-list