First things first: WOW. Thanks you Brandon for taking time out from writing your own stuff and finishing up something that has held my heartstrings for over a decade. You are amazing in your own right and I hope that this brings you many more readers.
And now some first reactions:
HOLY CRAP! How many Forsaken are dead now? The Towers of Midnight are NOT what I thought, still not sure if they are the Seanshan things or in the Blight.DUDE, Moriane is ALIVE!!And going to marry Thom? Okay.What is WITH the Vampire Aiel? (that is what I am calling them) Aviendha just completely CHANGED those Terangreal. Rand is kinda boring in this. Not enough scenes with Tuon. Perrin had some good stuff going on here. But really, Faile is just annoying me now. Glad and Berlain? Wouldn't he get all upset when he realizes what a scheming bitch she is? Gawayn, FINALLY you don't annoy me.
I really need to go back and reread all of the books. Some threads here and minor characters are teasing my memory, but I can't quite tease them into place. No matter, you can still glean what is going on around them. I haven't spent a lot of time on any of the many sites dedicated to picking things apart and the theories and speculations that accompany this opus.So, feel free to see things completely different than I do. Reading this 13th book is like visiting old friends. I also find the timing a bit confusing, but it all works out in the end.
We find ourselves in the calm before the Last Battle. Rand has gone all Jedi like and didn't descend into Vader town, but became more Yoda like. Where the Dark One touches, food spoils, yet where Rand walks, flowers bloom. Balance. If I were to say this book had a theme, I would say balance. Perrin finds his, Mat accepts his fate, Egwene and Elayne step more firmly into power. All of the strings are coming together. And yet, I want more. NOW. I have been waiting not so patiently for long enough, and now that the end is in sight, I feel like SOMETHING will prevent the end. (nasty aside to George RR Martin - FINISH THE DAMN BOOK)
There are so many plots by so many factions, I marvel that anybody can keep things straight. And it seems like the Aiel have been just glimpsed. We STILL don't really understand them. I truly wonder if things will ever be wrapped up to satisfy me. And if anyone would ever be able to write spin offs. Too many questions.
This is supposed to be a review, but since I suck at that, you are stuck with my thoughts and impressions. If you haven't read The Wheel of Time, you should. If you like fantasy anyway. It isn't for everybody. I have had thoughts to the tune of : ooh, look there's some Arthurian Legend thrown in there! Oh Spaceships! and of course, Epic epicness in the fantasy vein. For now, I am satisfied with the story moving along. Bid a fond farewell to some characters, and cheering for some we haven't seen much lately. Also, some sort of GRRing thrown in there. But, in the way a good read is supposed to sweep you into it's world, this latest offering has done so for me. It is a world I enter gladly. And I will be sad and happy to see the story finished. T'aishier Dragon