The Wheel of Time – Series Review Part 3

Phew. Just one more post after this one and my series review will be finished. Without further ado:

Book 8 – The Path of Daggers

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The Path of Daggers, Book Eight of The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. Published by Tor Books.

After being repelled by Rand al’Thor’s forces in The Great Hunt, the Seanchan return to continue their invasion. Nynaeve and Elayne, having completed their mission, escape Ebou Dar just as the Seanchan arrive. Elayne feels the time is right for her to return to Caemlyn to claim The Lion Throne following the disgrace and presumed death of her mother. In order to secure the throne, Elayne must gain the support of the nobilitiy, many of whom her mother had spurned before her disappearance. Meanwhile, Rand al’Thor has heard of the Seanchan’s return, and takes his armies to rebuff the Seanchan’s fast encroachment into lands beyond Ebou Dar. Unbeknownst to him, the weapons at his disposal may not be as reliable as he may think. Finally, Perrin has tracked down and confronted the mysterious Prophet, but when the Shaido suddenly appear and abduct his wife, he must make an uneasy truce with the Prophet in order to get her back.

While A Crown of Swords made up for the terrible pacing as well as lack of character and plot development found in Lord of ChaosThe Path of Daggers plunges the series back into a glacial pace. It starts off with a bang (literally!), but the rest of the book becomes a slog through Rand’s battle with the Seanchan. In previous occasions, Jordan proved himself an excellent writer of large scale conflicts, but that is not the case in this book. The battle with the Seanchan stretches on interminably and plot and character development suffer as a result. To be sure, some important plot developments do occur, but the one that is both the most immediately important as well as the most exciting occurs very early in the book, which isn’t conducive to making the rest of the book all that interesting in comparison.

Book 9 – Winter’s Heart

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Winter’s Heart, Book Nine of the Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. Published by Tor Books.

Rand’s battle with the Seanchan in The Path of Daggers has made him realize that he cannot continue to risk madness either for himself or his army of Asha’man. To prevent the madness from consuming him and the other male channelers, he makes a bold plan to cleanse the male half of the One Power of the Dark One’s taint. If Rand can accomplish this, it will change the world forever. Meanwhile, Rand’s friend Mat was caught in Ebou Dar during the Seanchan invasion. Having broken his leg, he is unable to escape becoming the consort of the Ebou Dari queen, Tylin. Mat thinks only of escape, and as his leg heals he sets a plan in motion to get himself, and others away from the Seanchan conquerors of Ebou Dar. Unknowingly to Mat, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, the heir to the Seanchan throne, has joined her armies in Ebou Dar, and he’ll soon find their fates are inextricably linked.

Each time it feels like the series is beginning to lose quality, Jordan comes back with another strong book. Winter’s Heart is leaps and bounds better than The Path of Daggers. However, it isn’t as good as the better books in the series. Some very crucial plot developments happen in this book, and it has an ending every bit as explosive as many of its predecessors. Despite this, character development remains mostly stagnant, so while it is a much better read than Lord of Chaos and The Path of Daggers, it isn’t on par with the stronger entries in the series.

 

Book 10 – Crossroads of Twilight

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Crossroads of Twilight, Book Ten of The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. Published by Tor Books.

While Rand recuperates from the events of Winter’s Heart, Perrin is on the hunt for the Shaido, who have captured his wife, Faile. When he learns that the Shaido have entrenched themselves in the abandoned town of Malden, he realizes that he will need more than his current army to rescue her. His only option is to make a truce with the Seanchan forces that have slowly made their way inland from Ebou Dar. Despite his reservations at allying himself with the invaders, Perrin will do anything to rescue Faile. While Perrin broods a truce, Mat is on the run from the Seanchan. Through a twist of bad luck, he was forced to kidnap Tuon, the Daughter of the Nine Moons, and, despite Mat’s roguishness, he finds himself intrigued by Tuon. Meanwhile, Elayne is consolidating her power in Caemlyn. It has become obvious to all around her she is pregnant, and in order to protect her child she must hide the true identity of their father. Finally, Egwene and her forces have lain seige to Tar Valon. In order to end the conflict within the ranks of the Aes Sedai without resorting to a violent confrontation, Egwene must make a bold and desperate move.

I’m going to be blunt. Despite all that appears to happening in the above summary, nothing really happens in this book. The character development remains stagnant, the series’ plot screeches to a halt and readers are left with hundreds of pages of the characters ruminating and planning their next moves. The only plot development even worth mentioning literally happens at the very end of the book within the last few pages. The series had made some stumbles before, but never this badly.

Prequel – New Spring

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New Spring, Prequel to The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. Published by Tor Books.

Twenty years prior to the events of the main series, Moiraine was an Accepted training to be an Aes Sedai when it is revealed that the Dragon has been reborn. Being one of only three present during this announcement, Moiraine and her friend Siuan are given the task of finding the Dragon Reborn. Their initial attempts at finding the him fail, and Moiraine and Siuan take it upon themselves to continue the search. They are raised to the rank of Aes Sedai and Moiraine leaves Tar Valon hoping to find the Dragon Reborn before he is discovered by the Dark One’s servants. During her travels, she encounters Lan for the first time. Lan is attempting to gain the support of the Borderlanders to help him recapture the Kingdom of Malkier, which was consumed by the Blight when Lan was only a child. Lan is still young, and caught up in the plots of others, and it will take both Lan’s skills and Moiraine’s cunning for him to escape.

One might question the wisdom in writing a prequel after the flop that is Crossroads of Twilight, but that’s what Jordan did. Luckily, this book is much shorter than all of the entries in the main series, so it isn’t too much of a commitment for fans and readers. While it isn’t a great book, or a great entry in the series overall, it does succeed in telling the story of how two very important characters in the main series met. Given it’s brevity, it’s a much lighter read than the rest of the books in the series, which I also appreciated especially after reading Crossreads of Twilight. I’ll take a good, light read over a boring, heavy read every time.

That’s it for this post! I’ll wrap up my review of the series in the next post where I’ll tackle books eleven through fourteen.

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