Delayed Gratification: On Reading Memories of Light

“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”

 

And with these words, I was entranced, spellbound, ensorcelled by the words of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. I think I came to the series in the late 90s – 1998 or thereabouts – and I remember gobbling up the first book, The Eye of the World, as quickly as I could and then moving on to the other books in the series, scouring used book stores for hardcover copies on the cheap, waiting endlessly for the next in the series.

Then in 2005 I realized a dream when I was able to see Robert Jordan speak at the Philadelphia Free Library, have my book signed by him, and my picture taken with him. I was through the roof that day. My voice was literally shaking when I talked to him. He smiled at my obvious enthusiasm and admiration (or it could have been my purple hair!).

Just a few weeks later, we had received horrible news: Robert Jordan had been diagnosed with cardiac amyloidosis and died September 16, 2007 after a noble fight. I had turned on my computer that morning and saw a status update from a friend saying he had died and once I confirmed it, I just cried and cried. Mr. Jordan had been a hero of mine from the standpoint both as a reader and as a writer. He showed me how intricate storytelling can be without condescending to its readers, how beautiful and epic modern fantasy was in scope, how weaving many cultural influences and mythologies and histories enriches a book.

So, the question is, why did I wait to read the final book in the series, Memories of Light, released in January 2013? Simply put – I have no simple answer. I think some part of me thought that for as long as I put off reading the book, the series wouldn’t end, that I could still be immersed in the world of Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve. Regardless of how the series ended, once I read it, that would be IT. It would be an ending, a goodbye to characters I felt like I knew.

But, eventually I couldn’t help myself. I had to KNOW what happened. So I had a marathon reading session (resulting in a migraine alas) and finished the final 500 pages ( I had been savoring the first 500).

All I can say is WOW. This is a spoiler-free post but I will say I cried, I laughed, I cheered, and I said a fond farewell to fictional friends.

Although Brandon Sanderson did a skillful job of finishing the series, it doesn’t appear that any more original books will be published (prequels and the like). So reading it was truly the end. We no longer have Robert Jordan, but he will live on through his words, his characters, and the world he created.

robert jordan