A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan

ACOSCoverBook seven of the Wheel of Time series under my belt, seven more to go. As usual, nothing really happens until the last 20% of the book. Jordan wastes words telling us all about setting and clothing descriptions for characters where it adds nothing to your understanding of them. (Detailed livery descriptions for nobles, their servants, and armies — almost all of whom are lesser, unimportant characters.) He constantly describes facial reactions to reveal plot. The telling is so rampant it’s tiresome at times.

What is interesting to read are the various customs of each nation; the Ebou Dari’s extreme reverence for Wise Women, for example. The gholam’s origin story is another. Loial, who, as an Ogier, is filthy with backstory potential) gets limited stage time in book seven.

While Jordan does a much better job weaving the disparate plot points together in book seven it’s the easy “outs” that irk me the most. (That, and 300 Aes Sedai characters that are impossible to keep straight. (Thank you Wheel of Time wiki!).

Lan Mandragoran appears out of nowhere “just in the nick of time” to save bossy the cow Nynaeve from Moghedien’s random attack in Ebou Dar. (Surprisingly, Nynaeve hasn’t yanked her braid right off her head, yet.)

The Wanderer (actually Moridin in disquise) who again, pops out of nowhere to save Rand from falling down a hole during the “climactic” battle scene with Sammael. We waited the entire book for this battle, and Sammael gets killed by Mashadar after a long, drawn-out chase sequence? Rather unsatisfying. It’s almost as though Jordan gave up. Equally frustrating? Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendha and Mat are all still in Ebou Dar 855 pages later. Will they ever emancipate the Bowl of the Winds? (I sense, yes! this will happen. The reason? Book nine depicts snow in the cover art. The weather’s got to change at some point.)

Will Elayne ever take the throne of Andor? Will Mat ever escape from under the pile of rubble he’s currently trapped under? Is Sammael really dead? Will Nynaeve ever finish off Moghedien for good in an epic battle royale? Will we ever see Egwene, Perrin, Faile, and Loial again? Maybe book eight has some answers.

January – March 2015

The Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

WoT06_LordOfChaos Lord of Chaos is book six of The Wheel of Time series. Mired in bloviated description, it plods for 986 pages only to end in a rushed battle scene and a confusing epilogue that begs more questions than it answers. Is Demandred disguised as Halima? Or, was it really Demandred disguised as Moghedien the entire book? Research reveals that no, Halima is not Demandred in disguise, despite the fact that she’s the only female character in six thousand pages to channel saidin, the male source of the One Power. It’s not nice to pull fast ones on your readers, Robert Jordan.

The book spends a lot of focus on Egwene, Elayne, and Nynaeve, yet strangely their storyline peters out in Ebou Dar as they search for a mysterious, but cleverly hidden ter’angreal thought to help control the weather.

The oddest thing in this book was the ceremony held as Egwene gets raised to Amyrlin. This series has been almost puritanical with only blushing, prudish references to nudity and sex, yet Jordan creates a scene in which all sitters, along with Amyrlin candidate Egwene, bare their breasts, declaring, “I am a woman” to prove that they’re female.

Mat Cauthon remains an insufferable misogynist who thinks women are all disingenuous schemers who wouldn’t last a day on their own if it weren’t for his protection.

Perrin and Faile, a pair who had been interesting characters in book five, seem wooden and flat. Faile’s ever-present jealousy and Perrin’s inability to communicate with his wife in any simple way became tiresome in their few scenes.

Thankfully, Loial is back, though sadly ignored, plot-wise for 90% of the book.

Despite the scrambled plot lines, the tedious repetition, and dozens of meaningless characters, I still want to know what happens to our crazy kids from the Two Rivers and Elayne, the daughter-heir of Andor. I can only hope that the characters deepen in upcoming volumes and that the writing somehow tightens. This book took me a few months to read, not just because of the flagging plot, I had to start reading other books to give myself a break from The Wheel of Time. On to book seven, albeit slowly.

October 2014 — January, 2015