I've been waiting to comment, because I'm very ambivalent about the book. I think there were some great moments, including some involving my favorite characters, but it felt like the story missed a lot of scenes that I had been waiting to read for decades. I felt like Sanderson had some favorite characters (Perrin, Androl, Lan) and spent a lot of time on them, but completely missed the mark on others (Mat, Nynaeve, Moiraine). Nynaeve and Moiraine, in particular, felt like total afterthoughts in this book.
Originally Posted by rjblue
I felt like Sanderson spent so much time on the mechanics of the battle and the endless slaughter of trollocs that he forgot to include many emotional beats.
A few missing things that really jumped out at me were:
-- Not having actual scenes between Nynaeve and Lan at any point after his bond was passed to her in the last book and the Last Battle. I can't even recall if they exchanged any words before the final battle. Just a few paragraphs of them finally being together after so much time apart -- and finally her having his bond which was such a big issue going back to book one. We also never got any sense of Nynaeve's reaction to what she was feeling through the bond even as Lan made repeated suicide charges at the trollocs and suffered a lot of injuries. The most Sanderson wrote was vague sentences like "Lan tried to convey his pride in his troops" or "Lan sent his love to her." Ugh. (I do understand why there couldn't be a Nynaeve's POV after Lan sheathed the sword, because it would have spoiled the reveal, but someone could have observed her reacting to what she felt through the bond. We saw Egwene affected by Gawyn being stabbed before he died, so even Moiraine noticing Nynaeve have a physical reaction would have acknowledged the emotional connections.)
-- No reunion between Moiraine and Lan or Moiraine and Siuan. They had started the road decades earlier; that should have been acknowledged.
-- The fates of a lot of characters were never revealed. (Certain other characters, such as Padan Fain and Alanna, felt like they were dealt with only because they had to be, but without the depth they should have had.)
-- The fate of the Tinkers? The Shaido? I understand that Jordan didn't want to have a long epilogue that dictated what would happen in the next age, but it just seemed like there should have been a little bit more.
That may change your view about the book. I thought a lot of the dialogue was terrible. [spoiler]Moiraine at Merrilor
I skimmed some of it, because battle descriptions are just "blah,blah,blah" for me. In a few weeks I'm going to re-read it more slowly and pay more attention to the dialogue, etc.
I didn't mind that, but
-Alivia helping Rand to die was a major letdown after it seemed like it was going to be a part of Rand defeating The Dark One.
I have always hated the idea of the body swap since it was foreshadowed. It just felt like a cheap way out. And I hated that, after all the build-up to how important Moiraine would be for the Last Battle -- including that Rand could not win without her -- she did nothing. The same with Nynaeve. Their should have been more at Shayol Ghul for them to do.
That's another scene I'm ambivalent about.
Best moment of awesome-
Egwene going out in a crystal explosion that defeated Taim. There was no way she was going to live without Gawyn (although I still think she could have chosen someone more her equal).
I liked what Egwene accomplished, but her actions were basically: (1) she chose an immature warder; (2) he acted immaturely; (3) she did not act to protect herself when he died (by passing the bond); and (4) she then basically committed heroic suicide. It served the plot, but didn't feel like Egwene, who had grown so much to fill the role of Amyrlin. I also thought the sudden "oh, I can undo balefire with this brand-new, previously unknown weave that we'll call the Flame of Tar Valon" was terribly done. That could have been foreshadowed over time by having people see the effects of overuse of balefire and start studying how to counter it.
For pure awesomeness, Lan sheathing the sword was my personal highpoint. That had been discussed in book two, so it was great to see it used. Of course, the way Lan reached Demandred and the notion that the Dark One's greatest general would engage in three one-on-one duels were totally absurd, but I'll overlook that because Lan deserved that moment.
My favourite scene in the whole series is still when
Verin reveals herself as Black Ajah
in The Gathering Storm. I missed all the clues to that one in the 10000 pages that came before.
I remember the debate about that from early one. It began when Verin said that Moraine sent her to help Rand, which appeared to be a lie and raised questions about whether she was bound by the Three Oaths. That led to years of internet speculation about whether she was Black Ajah. It was still a surprise to realize that she was a mole and I liked how her confession played out.
My biggest gripe:
Androl and the gateways. God, do I hate the character of Androl with the power of 1,000 blazing suns. It did not surprise me to read after the book that he was Sanderson's creation who was used to accomplish things that Robert Jordan indicated should happen. I didn't want to spend that much time in the final book reading about a Johnny-come-lately character at the expense of ones I've cared about for 20 years. And the truth is that if Androl could do what he did with gateways, the battles should have gone completely differently. The whole battle strategies made no real sense. If Jordan wanted lava flowing through gateways, he could have just had some mention in prior books about the Black Tower experimenting and learning about new ways to use gateways, which could have then been incorporated into the Last Battle without making it all about Androl.