If we had to wait this long, at least the read was as good as Two Rivers Tabac.
Bravo, Mr. Sanderson, Team Jordan. The ending is not as it might have been with The Creator still at the helm. And the tone for several of the main characters is off; at times it was as if the characters had the same blank eyes as those who were turned to the Shadow. And some words seemed very out of place, literally out of this world. But you took Jordan's light-blindingly complex plot and believably gathered it all together for a satisfying conclusion. It is as if Thom Merrilin fell dead in the middle of the Karaethon Cycle and one from the audience rose up and learned to speak in High Chant while juggling.
The Last Battle began near the end of TOM, and the action hardly flagged for nearly 900 pages after. The chapter named for it was exhausting to read, but I could not stop. Sanderson's determination to finish this was palpable, which seems quite fitting.
Choices. The series covered a lot of Big Questions -- balance, communication/miscommunication, gender politics, whether violence is justified, how we choose our leaders, etc. -- but the choice between good and evil rose above all of them (or encompassed them). The idea that evil can only triumph if we allow it, if we choose it, rings true for me. A good concept, and well told.
On Death. I hate it when all the good guys are alive and happy at the end. But, I also would not have liked lots of death just to make it more real. There was a LOT of death in this book, but the deaths made sense and meant something to the plot.
Demandred. Ishamael was always my favorite Shadow character for his bleak complexity, and for how his character developed as we got to know more and more about him. But Demandred was full of unmitigated awesome as a violently bad-ass villain. His initial appearance was a shock, with exquisite (there's that word you like Thom) timing, absolutely cinematic. He got slightly two-dimensional by the end, but still, fun to read.
Even though there was wide speculation he was with the Sharans, that massive gateway opening was perfectly surprising and climactic. And I doubt anyone had an inkling how he was going to be brilliant on both a strategic and a tactical level throughout the multi-front campaign. The plot to go after the four captains was an effective twist.
Having Rand go up to King Roedran in such an obvious sop to the fans wondering if he were Demandred made me cackle like Fain. It broke down the 4th wall a bit, but in a way that was a nice homage to the series' loooong tradition of fan theorizing about its many mysteries. Demandred theories were perhaps outnumbered only by Who Killed Asmodean theories, going all the way back to the mid-90s rec.arts.sf. days.
The Horn of Valere. Many speculated that Mat was no longer connected to the Horn (and for the right reason, the balefire in Caemlyn, not the hanging), but that entire thread was a surprise. I did not for even a second, though, believe that Faile would not be found alive. Personally I was disappointed that Laras didn't thrash a trolloc or two, but we can't have everything.
Egwene. Wow, that was most unexpected. I thought she might die, but not like that. Finding a counter for balefire seems a bit convenient, but it fits the overall theme of balance prominent in the series.
Padan Fain. This is one thread I was a bit disappointed in. Built up for so long, only to make little more than a token appearance very late, and be dispatched like a minor annoyance. I think Slayer probably deserved fewer pages in order to fit a bit more Fain in, personally. This is related to...
Mat/Perrin. The Perrin sections have been the strongest in the Sanderson books, and that was true here as well. Mat, meanwhile...most of his actions seem fine, but the words and thoughts. Ugh. Talmanes was worse. And to have the Perrin-Slayer conflict last two books while Mat fights Fain for a couple of paragraphs was one of the most unbalanced things about a series very much to do with balance.
Sealing the Bore. I never really believed that Rand could/would actually kill the Dark One, but I liked how he came to that conclusion through his own conjured vision. A world without the choice of good or evil was not truly good. We must choose.
So much more I want to babble out, but even Loial might stop here.