Something is wrong. I was all set to really love this book – having just finished The Way of Kings and as someone who’s now read almost everything that Brandon Sanderson has written I thought his writing was something I really liked and enjoyed … but … there was something … missing with this book.
In his previous book in the Wheel of Time Universe – The Gathering Storm I was extremely impressed with the way he was able to bring closure to so many of Jordan’s long outstanding story-lines and advance the story. He’s done the same thing here, but for some reason it just didn’t have the same impact for me – perhaps because I am now more familiar with him and what he is capable of – in fact as I read this immediately after completing The Way of Kings perhaps that influenced me more than it should have as I was definitely comparing the writing throughout my reading.
Now – please don’t get me wrong, it might seem like I didn’t like this book – that’s actually not the case, its just that I didn’t like it in comparison to his other books and writing. Overall what happened in the story with some of the main characters was excellent – while his characterization and handling of some characters (notably Matt) will never be the same as Jordan’s, the sequences with Perrin were really well handled and it was good to see all the villagers back again in one book.
In terms of Closure
If closure is really letting go then this book has that and in spades (by the way, in case you’ve not read any of my other posts, you might not realize that spoilers do abound, so please read at your own risk!) as you will see from the partial list below:
- The Gholam is back (if only for a little while) and he seems to have a mission to destroy Mat. Mat and the Gholam fight several times and Mat is able to trick and trap it into a Skimming Gateway that has been created by Kinswomen. Some outstanding questions of course are (1) Is it really gone?, (2) Why was it impacted/hurt by the medallion that Matt has?, (3) What about all the other medallions that Elayne has created now – how will they be used?
- Mat, Thom and Noal finally visit the Tower of Ghenjei and are able to rescue Morraine. By the way was it a surprise to anyone that Noal was actually Jain Farstrider? This was fairly obvious right from the beginning and introduction of his character wasn’t it? While Mat has to lose one of his eye’s to effect this escape, the overall sequence though seems rather clunky to me.
- Perrin, Faile and Berlaine seem to finally resolve their issues and Berlaine falls in love with Galad. Perrin has a couple of really cool sequences though:
- The sequence in the White Tower when he is carrying the Dreamspike and comes across the Battle in Telhandroid between Egwene and the Black Ajah. His simple dismissal of the Balefire weave that is shot by Mesaana is both hilarious and also a very strong indicator of his power in the World of Dreams especially compared to what the Wise Ones and Aes Sedai think a Dream Walker should be capable of.
- The whole sequence were he builds/creates his hammer with the use of the power and the Asha’man. Seeing how power forged weapons are created makes you understand their true importance and worth and the way in which this whole section was written made it really easy to visualize and enjoy. You could almost see the flames jumping into the air.
- Rand seems to have truly reconciled himself and both of his different personalities are now completely integrated. The difference though seems almost too profound and complete though and there doesn’t seem to be any lingering uncertainties now – which to some extent is a bit odd, as its taken us 12 books to get here and it all seemed to be fixed in the final chapter of the previous book.
Now there are quite a few other things that are finalized and closed off but writing them all would cause me to have a tome of comparable size also!
Things that I didn’t like
There were a couple of main area’s that just didn’t work for me –
- The whole sequence with the Aiel and Aviendha … I really didn’t like the foreshadowing of the future of the Aiel. While its interesting that the story doesn’t end with the Last Battle, perhaps it should? How the Aiel and the rest of the channelers are handled in battle against the Seanchan doesn’t really make sense.
- Galad and the Whitecloaks – while I know that they are all about the Black & White and cannot see any gray’s its a little bit silly when they are so rabid and fixated on just one thing. Considering how good with a sword Galad is meant to be, in the battle with the Trollocs he doesn’t really impress.
- Tam Al’Thor – seems to be jumping around all over the place and there seems to perhaps be some sort of time shift or something that isn’t really covered or explained properly.
- Rand – as previously mentioned, his change in personality seems to be too extreme considering what has happened in other previous books.
- Graendal was the person who killed Asmodean … good to know, but how we found out about it was not right! This was told in the glossary for crying out loud!!! This is completely wrong considering how long this mystery has been out there and how many different theories have been written!
- Ituralde – OK, the battle sequences were cool, but my question is … how is anything he’s done worthy of being called a “Great General”? I mean when Matt was involved in the battles in earlier books you could see how his skills came to bear and how he could make a difference, but I didn’t get anything similar out of Ituralde at all and it just seemed to me that he was reacting vs. anything else.
Its always a pleasure reading another WOT book and despite some of the decencies that are in this book, that pleasure is still there. With the final battle starting and the Trollocs attacking in the Borderlands the end is definitely nigh which after 13 books and over decade of waiting is about time!
Seeing how some of the characters finally progress and how Perrin grows and finally progresses instead of continually complaining all the time is great also as is the way in which Matt stops being a joker and starts taking some responsibility for his power.
While this isn’t my favorite book in the series, it is better than some of the other ones that I have read for sure and some of the sequences are truly amazing! Being the penultimate book in the series I definitely cannot wait for the next and final book to see how it all ends!