“There are no endings, and never will be endings, to the turning of the Wheel of Time.” Even so, with this volume, the late Jordan’s hyperinflated Wheel of Time series grinds to a halt.
Jordan (Eye of the World, 1990, etc.), here revived by way of the extensive notebooks, drafts and outlines he left behind by amanuensis Sanderson (Creative Writing/Brigham Young Univ.), was an ascended master of second-tier Tolkien-ism; the world he creates is as densely detailed as Middle-earth, and if the geography sounds similar, pocked with place names such as Far Madding and the Blasted Lands, that’s no accident. Tolkien-esque, too, is the scenario for this saga-closer, namely a “last battle” in which the forces of good are arrayed against those of darkness. The careless reader might take this to be a battle of hairdressers in a West Indian neighborhood: “The Dreadlords came for him eventually, sending an explosion to finish the job. Deepe spent the last moments throwing weaves at them. He died well.” That’s not the case, of course; instead, saga heroes Mat Cauthon and Perrin Aybara range the lands beyond the Dark One’s prison to do all manner of good and adventuresome things. It’s a strange world, that: Perrin finds the pit to end all pits, “[a]n eternal expanse, like the blackness of the Ways, only this one seemed to be pulling him into it.” But then, what kind of epic would it be if it weren’t a strange place?
Will wolves and orcs—or whatever they are—take over the world, or will the good guys prevail? Jordan’s fans, who are legion, will most decidedly want to learn the answer to that question.