Normally in my WOT reviews I list things that actually happened (things of significance) in these books so as to illustrate how much space was taken up by non-essential real estate. How much Jordan veered from the idea of ‘the narrative’ as a concept. Quite literally, as of this book, Jordan lost the plot entirely. Nothing. Happens. In. This. Book. And my copy has 822 pages of text, not including the glossary and maps.
There is infinitesimal movement on all fronts. Mostly the characters just sit around talking about stuff that has happened, and stuff they think is going to happen. They don’t do anything. The most significant thing that happens this book is that Jordan makes sure to have each storyline at one point react to Rand cleansing the taint from Saidin, which is not even something that happened in this book. So, the most exciting thing to be found here is characters reacting to something that happened in another book. Um.
There is no indication at all that Jordan has tried to adhere to having conflict, rising tension, a climax or a resolution, as most people would agree are the things that make up a story. If he has, it’s series long, and this book is the bit in between the rising tension and the climax, where he slipped off to have a nap while he tried to figure things out. This is an 822 page status update.
The only two things that held my attention were Cadsuane, and Mat and Tuon. Cadsuane, because even I can tell that she’s a badass, and her getting Rand to cooperate is worth noting, even if she hasn’t actually done anything yet with that power. And Mat and Tuon because I was eager to see what the dynamic between the two of them would be. Spoiler: they were prophesied to marry each other, both of them know about this, but neither knows the other knows. This is a great set-up for a romance! Unfortunately, Jordan mostly wastes that opportunity, in my opinion. Their relationship dynamic seems to be yet another in a seemingly endless line of men and women in these books who court each other by being as antagonistic as possible. Yawn. (There were glimmers of something interesting a couple of times. First, when Tuon sees how distraught Mat is at learning Tylin has died, there was something like a genuine human connection. And then again . . . nope. It’s gone. I know there was something else, but I can’t remember it.)
Anyway, I’ve been assured this is the worst of the series by far, so hopefully it will only go up from here!