Before I get into this, I always have this dilemma about rating books that are part of a series. You don’t rate a chapter independently of a book, so how do you judge a book that’s one piece of a bigger story? Thoughts welcome.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Since there is no point in looking this book up unless you’ve read the first thirteen, there may be spoilers for those (although, unless you read too far into my words, you probably won’t see a thing). None for this one, though.
If you’ve gotten through the series this far, there’s no way you will skip this, so instead of attempting to help you decide whether or not you should read it, I will just offer a little bit of what to expect. I really liked the ending, myself–there is neither Rowling’s heavyhandedness nor GRRM’s borderline bloodlust, and I got the sense that a lot of planning went into it. So well done there.
The first third of the book was a bit of a letdown, in terms of both voice and lack of Mat (okay, look, I’m completely biased). I think, having read like one page of Mistborn, that Sanderson ended up slipping a lot more strongly into his normal voice. Of course he never tried to write exactly like Jordan,thankfully, but compared to the two books he did write, this section came off as a lot more strongly not-Jordan. The dialogue and narrative are lighter…not necessarily more full of levity, although I will say Sanderson does a fantastic job adding touches of humor (like I said, I’m completely biased), but just the kind of thing you don’t expect in a high fantasy epic, either in this series or GRRM’s.
While Sanderson eventually regains control of the narrative voice, there are a lot more italics than I’d come to expect. I noticed he used more in the early bits of what he was contributing to the series, and it seems to have made a reappearance.
Anyway, the narrative is pretty scattered between voices, but since the theaters of action are a lot narrower, it works. I got the sense this was not how Jordan would have done it, but it builds tension and unless you are slow, it’s not confusing.
The content is divided, largely, between individual battles and then bigger troop movements and strategy. Of course there are moments for other things to happen, but it reminded me of the second Lord of the Rings movie with all those big charges and stuff. If you like military history, you will probably enjoy picking apart which famous armies they’re drawing off. (Way too mobile for the Spartans, FYI.)
So yeah, deal with the beginning because this book is totally worth your time. I always go with misgivings into the final book of a series, but once stuff got moving it kept moving and, again, I was totally satisfied with the ending.
On a side note, this will probably be the only time I ever see my name in an English book. Since the maps aren’t particularly exciting, I will probably purchase the ebook once it comes out.