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With The Shadow Rising, Robert Jordan moved The Wheel of Time series out of its 'adventure' arc into a 'political' phase as the characters finally moved into positions of high authority and influence amongst different nations and cultures, and could begin the process of uniting the world to face the Last Battle. Whilst adventure storylines would continue to appear, a lot more time from this point onwards would be spent on political maneuverings. Indeed, some storylines would unfold almost entirely within a character's office as they fired off letters, received intelligence, and debated strategy. That, at this stage anyway, Jordan is able to make this readable and compelling is a testament to his often-underrated storytelling skills.

The fifth book in The Wheel of Time opens by picking up the storylines from the previous volume. Rand has convinced several of the Aiel clans to accept him as their chief-of-chiefs, and he makes preperations to lead them back into the Westlands. However, his task is complicated when the Shaido clan rejects him and launches a devastating invasion of the kingdom of Cairhien. Rand is forced to take his troops in pursuit before he can secure the loyalty of the remaining neutral clans, leaving his forces exposed to possible attack on two sides. Meanwhile, Nynaeve, Elayne, Thom and Juilin have extracted themselves from the civil war in Tarabon but now face the task of crossing the hostile nation of Amadicia, the stronghold of the Children of the Light and a country where channelling is outlawed. At the same time, a fanatic claiming to be the 'Prophet of the Dragon' is ravaging the kingdom to the north, Ghealdan. Back in Tar Valon, the Aes Sedai have splintered into opposing factions, with Elaida seizing control of the White Tower and a 'Tower-in-Exile' opposed to her rule establishing itself elsewhere, but the latter's stance towards Rand is unclear. Finally, the Forsaken are preparing a trap to neutralise Rand once and for all.

There's certainly a lot going on in The Fires of Heaven and Jordan mostly handles these storylines with aplomb, switching between them to stop things getting stale and delivering a relentless pace to Rand, Mat and Egwene's story, which has them chasing the Shaido hundreds of miles and culminating in the biggest battle in the entire series (to date, anyway). However, the first few cracks in the series' structure are becoming apparent. Given the distances traversed by Rand in his story, Jordan had to find a way of slowing down Elayne and Nynaeve's trip across a much smaller area so events would converge as he needed them to. His solution was to whack them in a very slow-moving circus as it traverses Amadicia, which leads to the first chapters in the entire series so far which don't actually seem to advance plot or character, but merely keep things ticking over for some of the characters. With events proceeding pretty rapidly elsewhere, the cutting-away to Elayne learning to walk a tightrope or Nynaeve being followed around by the lovelorn circus-owner really kills the pace of the book, making it a sluggish read in places. Some readers may also bemoan the lack of any appearance by Perrin in this book. Whilst Jordan had downplayed some characters' appearances in previous novels (Rand in the third, most notably), this is the first time one of the major characters from the first book doesn't appear at all.

Jordan makes up for these issues with the ferocious climax. At the end of the book Rand unleashes a blitzkrieg as a huge battle is fought with the Shaido and he has to face down two of the Forsaken in separate, desperate duels with the One Power. During these few chapters an enormous number of important events in the series take place, several important new characters are introduced and no less than five recurring characters are (apparently) killed off. This section of the book really repays careful rereads, as you can see how Jordan impressively set up events ahead of time. In fact, this may be the most dynamic part of the entire series to date and makes for great reading. However, be warned that a fairly big mystery is introduced at the end of Book 5 that has still not been conclusively answered more than 15 years later, although Brandon Sanderson has promised us a definitive answer in the final book of the series.

The Fires of Heaven (****) is a solid installment of the series, with a sometimes leaden pace and a very tedious subplot (the circus) more than made up for by the highly impressive climax and the way Jordan deftly spins the series' course onto a new heading (although this also lays the seeds for some extremely dubious writing decisions in the books to come).
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on 22 July 2011
The fifth book in the Wheel of Time series continues the story of Rand al'Thor, The Dragon Reborn and his childhood friend, Mat Cauthon. In the previous book Rand was named the One Who Comes with Dawn, the chief of chiefs by the Aeil, a people as hard as the harsh wastelands where they live. The prophecy of the One Who Comes with Dawn is that he will break the Aeil, yet everything in their culture and tradition says that they must follow him. The book opens with the battle of Cairhein, the city is besieged by Couladin, an Aeil claiming to be the real One Who Comes with the Dawn, and his clan, the Shaido. The battle progresses giving Mat Cauthon his first unwanted opportunity to step out of the Dragon Reborn's shadow and proves to be a great general. Also, the story follows Nynaeve and Elayne's journey with a travelling circus. It is quite satisfying to see Nynaeve being brought down to Earth, but the number of times it is done seems to be a little harsh. The book ends on an epic boss battle but on some small issues disappoints (can't say without spoiling the end.
The writing is just as strong as the previous books and the characters seem to be coming more to terms with their lot in life and thus are able to move forward with their humongous destinies. Its probably my favourite book so far in the series. So, if you have read the previous books, then this one will most definately satisfy.

By Noor A Jahangir
The Changeling King (The Trollking Saga)
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on 15 July 2004
I have just finished this book and moved onto book 6. Where I would be if I was one of the poor souls reading these books as they were released, I don't know.
I don't understand reviews that literally tell you the content of the books...but I will try and help you make a decision about this series.
The series so far is great! If you like fantasy, and enjoy the use of magic and power...you get excited when someone starts channeling magic in battle...you like surprises that are quite literally sprung on you when you just don't expect it - this is book/series for you!. Literally. When you're quite happily sitting on the train on the way to work, reading what seems like an interesting conversion between 2 folk, and all hell breaks lose....you just don't want to get off that train to go into work. It isn't fair like that. ;)
Yes, there's a lot of excitement, and well written prose in his novels, but he has his down-sides. These are actually so bad that it has made me put the book down out of frustration. What is it?
It is his persistent repetition of the women's views of men. Personally, what women think of men, I don't care...and to mention it here and there is fine, but when it is an pre-, during- and post- every sentence when dealing with characters such as Elayne and Neyeavne (can't spell), it gets mightily frustrating! It really, really does. Constantly telling the reader that men are useless, can't tell men this and that, they're stupid most of the time - although it isn't author opinion clearly, ya just get sick of hearing it and you read on solely to get back to Rand, Perrin and Mat. They just get on with what they gotta do, they get you excited etc...but the women just moan.
Maybe it is trying to reflect real life in that sense, but I read these books to get away from that sort of stupid nonsense. :)
If you can put up with that, you'll be fine...heartily recommended!
Make sure and start with the first in the series.
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on 6 February 2013
Fires of Heaven was always going to suffer, really, simply for following on from the brilliant forth novel. And, unfortunately in my view, Perrin does not make an appearance, a shame because I always found him a refreshingly honest POV. This book does drag on a little, but Rand's storyline certainly ends on a massively high note. This is something I have found Robert Jordan to do incredibly well.
However, there is one thing he has done wrong with this book. Perrin does not even make an apperance, but Nynaeve and Elayne are constantly brought back to the fore with, as far as I can tell, minimal advancement over hundreds of pages. And worse, is Nynaeve's constant bad attitude towards men. I would not mind it in small doses, but it seems that Robert Jordan is deliberately trying to make us hate a character who does have some very positive traits.
Fires of Heaven is not as entertaining as Shadow Rising, and it fails to execute the same chaotic, epic finale that made the Great Hunt and the Dragon Reborn such fantastic reads. However, it is still a great read nonetheless, and worth trundling through all the usual guff for true fans of the series
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on 29 August 2009
In the fifth novel in this series Rand is forced to step up his plans to start invading the rest of the world, while the two groups of girls try to find their way to a safe haven.

This book doesn't have the extremely slow start of the previous episode, although there is a bit of an odd jump between the events of the two. This is particularly noticeable in the Nynave and Elayne storyline which seems to have skipped a rather important escape scene.

There were a lot of unexpected twists in this one, including learning some of the things which were kept secret from us in the previous novel... even though they were fairly obvious to see coming. I was disappointed that one of the characters was completely ignored in this book, especially after his major storyline in the last one, which I really enjoyed.

Overall this was another good book, but I probably wouldn't go as far as saying that it was as good as book four.
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I've found it really difficult to write a review of The Fires of Heaven, mainly because as much as I'm loving the Wheel of Time series as a whole I was actually a little disappointed with this instalment. It was much slower than the last couple of books, particularly in the first half, and it took me much longer to read than it should have.

I thought it was very weird that Perrin, Loial and Faile were completely absent for the entire book. They played such huge parts in the last one that perhaps it was time to let some of the other characters shine but I would have liked just a glimpse at what is going on with them, especially considering the way things were left with them at the end of The Shadow Rising.

I was also incredibly irritated by nearly all of the women in this book. Nynaeve has been a favourite character of mine since the beginning but it's like she's had a personality transplant and she's acting like such a brainless idiot that I wanted to smack some sense into her. It really says something when you have Egwene call you out for your behaviour and it was shocking to find that Egwene was actually the most sensible of the two for this book - she's definitely learning something from the Wise Ones but I think Nynaeve must have had a brain injury! I honestly don't know how Elayne has coped with the pair of them though, I would have murdered them both if I was in her position. Although she doesn't have much of a leg to stand on considering the way she behaved around Thom for most of the book, it was actually embarrassing to watch.

Min and Siuan's story was probably the most interesting part of this book for me but even that went downhill once they met up with more of the Aes Sedai and were relegated to the side lines. I'm also kind of fed up with Elayne, Min and Aviendha mooning around over Rand (and his constant thoughts about the three of them!), I hate to say it but Robert Jordan isn't very good at creating believable relationships and I don't really feel much of a connection between any of them yet. Let's hope that improves as the series continues. Moiraine spends much of this book distancing herself from everyone else and being just as secretive as ever which is still irritating and I think the only woman who didn't get on my nerves for at least part of the story was Birgitte.

On the positive side it was great to see Rand step up and take action as the Dragon Reborn, he's finally accepted his destiny and started making plans for the future. I love spending time with the Aiel too, especially the Maidens of the Spear, and they get a big chunk of page time in this book. Mat has continued to improve as a character too so I'm looking forward to seeing what he decides to do next.

The Fires of Heaven wasn't a bad book but it just didn't live up to my high expectations for this series. I'm still hugely invested in the world and want to spend more time with the characters (even the ones who irritate me!) so of course I'll be diving into the next book very soon.
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on 2 April 2016
I started the series a few weeks ago and have stopped reading anything else, moving from one book to the next as soon as I finish the latest one. Funnily enough I didn't think the first book was more than 3 stars - pretty derivative, unnecessarily tangled and replete with mangled references to 'this' world's myths and legends (Tarmon Gai'don, Artur Paendrag for example) - but I decided to carry on to see if it improved. Which I feel it promptly did in the second book, which gave me ample momentum to continue.

From the five I've now read, it feels that Jordan relies heavily on cramming the denouements into the last fifty pages, which throws out the balance of the narrative. That said, I've really enjoyed his firm grasp of plot, his ability to make me care about the main characters and his descriptive flair.

Another tendency is that the first hundred or so pages waste too much time reiterating story elements or character backgrounds that anyone following the series would have at top of mind. After all, no-one would be reading them out of order.

I'm peeved that there is no explanation of what happened to the Seanchan woman, Egeanin that Nynaeve and Elayne befriended in book four. Not a single word about it, just a few sentences saying that Amanthera of Tarabon hustled the girls out of the city laden with jewels and gold in gratitude for their freeing her from the Black Ajah. Harrumph! Anyone who has the answer to this that I might have missed is welcome to comment 😊

Perrin's absence was felt, yet I thoroughly enjoyed the expansion into the Aiel world and the exploration of Tel'aran'rhiod by 'the ladies' was also fascinating.

I was disappointed by the Aes Sedai's reception of Elayne and Nynaeve as it felt mismatched and clunky in comparison to the heights the girls had reached by themselves. I do get it, though.

I read the book on Kindle and was frequently checking how long was left, which does suggest that plot was sacrificed to local colour. I'd agree with some other reviewers who have favoured a heavier editing hand.

All that said, I've got books six and seven out of the local library and plan to devour them through the coming week or so.
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on 28 October 2012
So now we're well into the series, each character has found their stride and have (mostly) accepted their fates. Rand has now found the army he needed and takes it across the Dragonwall to fight the Shaido. He has come a long way from the country boy we found in the Eye of the World. He is now a cold, but strong leader and the few insights into his thoughts we get are well done. We also have a new development with Lews Therin's thoughts drifting into his head making you wonder if he's going mad already.
Mat really comes into his own in this volume, with his new memories of battle commanders, leading him to take control of a battle late in the book. Because of this, he begins to finally accept his being ta'veren.
Also, Egwene is becoming a stronger character, as is evident by her shifting the balance of power between her and Nynaeve in Tel'aran'rhiod, planting the seeds for her future employment.

As is becoming usual with these books, the storyline with Nynaeve and Elayne isn't all that interesting. For the most part, they hide in a circus headed by the brilliantly over the top Valan Luca. However, most of this is bogged down by details you don't really want or need to know, like the fact that Nynaeve doesn't get on with many of the other performers and gets into fights with them. The story picks up a little when Nynaeve meets up with Moghedian again, forcing Birgitte into major character status in a rather surprising way.
It is while the women are in the circus that we get a very interesting look at the Prophet Masema, and how someone can take a simple belief (in this case that the Dragon Reborn will save the world) and use it to cause chaos. Something that happens all too often in our world.

We also follow Min, Siuan and Leane on their way to join the rebel Aes Sedai. While there's not that much story here, you do get an insight into how manipulative Siuan really is. Min has virtually nothing to do though, almost a waste of a decent character.

One of the downsides here, is that Perrin is not in the book. As one of the three main Ta'veren, it is odd to leave him out. I like Perrin, and felt more than a little disappointed by this. You can, though, see his effects on the Two Rivers during various scenes in Tel'aran'rhiod where evidence is clear of homes are being rebuilt after the Trolloc raids, along with new homes.

The ending more than makes up for any other faults the book has. Unlike the other books, the ending seems to take up a good chunk. Almost 25%. It starts with the battle for Cairhien which feels climactic at the time, but once it is over, the real ending begins with a very surprising fight with Lanfear. The aftermath is handled well and you feel for the characters' loss. This makes the final battle with Rahvin seem like more.

It is during this final battle, where Rand enters Tel'aran'rhiod in the flesh again, and meets Nynaeve. In my review of the Eye of the World, I mentioned how these two interacted. It's a shame there's not more scenes between them. The woman has known Rand since childhood and disciplined him when necessary, so for her to see him as the man he is today is very touching. Nynaeve can come across as a stuck up misandrist at times, but by reading these scenes, you get a feel that it's all a front. Or most of it anyway.

So, all in all, this is a good addition, though it does show a few signs of decline.
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on 7 April 2013
Ill be blunt, this was too long and too much unnecessary nonsense was clunked into it to make it longer for no reason than to make it long in the first place. I love wheel of time, but the pacing in this book was too slow for my tastes, while I love the rest of the series, this is probably the only black sheep in the family. Anyone that wants to get into WoT should be ready for a "Long" read, with very little development, Book 6 is better, but you do need to read this one to understand it, sadly.
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on 30 December 2009
I really enjoyed the first four books of this series but now that I've gotten to the fifth they seem to be flagging. The only exciting chapters are the ones detailing the adventures of Rand and Mat. Nynaeves, Elaynes and Egwenes chapters are terribly boring and mostly involve them commenting on "stupid" or "stubborn" men or complaining about "revealing bodices" or some such claptrap. This kind of stuff was peppered throughout the first four books and I thought they'd be through with this stuff by now but instead Jordan ups the anty and every second sentence involving the girls merely involves them complaining about men, they're clothes, or eachother. The constant moaning of the female characters does not make for exciting reading and the parts that take place in tel'ahnriod(if thats how you spell it) are probably the most boring yet. The relationships the female characters have with their male counterparts are quite ridiculous too, Nynaeve and Elayne who've been travelling with Thom and Juilin in the book for months somehow manage not to become friends with them and instead still view them as "stupid men".

The simple fact is that without any chapters dedicated to Perrin whos adventures were by far the most exciting in the previous book make this one seem incredibly boring and slow paced thanks to the terrible moaning of other characters. I've found myself skimming through paragraphs looking for something interesting for the first time in the series.
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