18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
slightly better than books 7 & 8,
This review is from: Winter's Heart: Book 9 of the Wheel of Time (Hardcover)
I wasn't very anxious to get started on this, after the disappointments of the previous volumes, but when I had finally exhausted the pile of 'books to read' there was only this one left. And it's not as bad as I expected. The story moves on again, after the stalling in book eight, and some questions are answered. Still, there are some serious flawes. One of them is that, apart from Rand, Mat & Min, everyone has turned into an arsehole. It's very hard to feel sympathy towards any of the characters other than the three mentioned.
Furthermore there are now so many Aes Sedai, Wise Ones & Windfinders going around that I've completely lost track of them. Far too many names, and they're all exactly the same anyway: stubborn and annoying old women, cardboard figures who can be forgotten as soon as you've finished the chapter they appear in.
The witches are also the main reason this story fails to get to the point. If they managed to listen to each other and the men for a change the whole of Randland would have been ready for Tarmon Gaidon by now. Instead they all 'look like steel & talk like stone' and achieve nothing. But maybe that's the point RJ is trying to make: A world run by scheming women is a mess. The thing is, that's not what I want to read. I started on this series because I expected good fantasy fiction, and for six volumes I wasn't disappointed. Now it's all become long descriptions of petty politics. But if I'd wanted to learn about politics I would have bought Macchiavelli.
RJ is capable of five-star writing, we've seen that at the start of the series, if this is his first step on the way back to that level of writing, let's hope book ten will be a bigger step.