How many more ways can I find to say the same things about this series? A series whose problems I identified as early as book three, and which has continued to embrace those problems rather than fix them. Presumably because Jordan didn’t see them as problems but rather as features. Which is one of the problems. It’s a whole problematical circle of problems, and ouroboroses eating their tails and such (a fitting image since the Wheel of Time is basically an ouroboros sailing some sort of invisible ship).
Let’s go through the checklist for Winter’s Heart:
*An inability to write women characters that betrays Jordan’s sexist notion that women and men seem to be different species of human: CHECK.
*Characters who constantly bicker with one another, and a distinct lack of recognizable human friendship: CHECK.
*Belligerence passing for leadership and competence: CHECK.
*Authorial indulgence in worldbuilding and logistics that has no ultimate bearing on the plot, which results in a lack of control over the narrative, and endless pages of pointless conversations, check-ins, brooding, and repetitive actions, so barely anything of note happens in the span of hundreds of pages: CHECK.
*An ever expanding cast of characters that is impossible to keep track of, largely due to aforementioned lack of control over the narrative: CHECK.
*Rand as some sort of weird hero/anti-hero jerkface with a harem of women who fall over themselves with love for him, for some unknown reason I cannot fathom, because he is a jerk: CHECK CHECK CHECK.
I think what makes me the most frustrated about this whole situation ↑ is that underneath all of that nonsense is the bones of a compelling story. It hurts to see Jordan take those bones and dress them up in sexist, pointless, frustrating nonsense.
So what DID happen in this book? A few things of significance did occur, but they are surrounded by a buffer of irrelevant things that are mostly not crucial to the story. The kinds of things you put in an WOT Encylopedia after you publish the last book in the series, not the stuff that makes up the meat of your books. If we’re going to go with food metaphors here, Winter’s Heart is a sub sandwich that is filled up almost entirely with iceberg lettuce, except for one bit in the middle and the bit at the end that has some meat and cheese and mustard on. We’re talking like 600 pages of lettuce, folks. Maybe 150 pages of meat, if we’re lucky.
So when I say significance, I mean stuff that has relevance for future plot, which will affect character or plot action in future books. We’re talking MOVEMENT, here. DEVELOPMENT.
*Faile is kidnapped by the Shaido, along with Morgase (in disguise) and Alliandre.
*Mat meets Tuon while trapped in Ebou Dar.
*Rand is bonded as a Warder to Elayne, Aviendha and Min. Elayne becomes pregnant, after retaking the throne.
*Rand and Nynaeve cleanse the male half of the power from the Dark One’s taint. Which is a phrase that should not exist. I’m just picturing evil buttholes now.
And that’s it! I think that’s some sort of record for non-happenings in a book. More stuff happens in most 250 page books I’ve read.
Also I do want to talk for a bit about how Perrin is the worst in this book, and almost everything to do with his storyline, and fucking Berelain, is just the worst. What the eff is the point of that stupid, horrible plotline? It makes Perrin look stupid for putting up with it. It makes Berelain look stupid for going so hard after a married man who OBVIOUSLY does not want her. He literally could not make it more obvious if he tried. It makes Faile look like a shrew to be so jealous. And it makes everyone around them look petty and stupid for talking about it and speculating about it endlessly. I hate it and wish it would die.