Top positive review
A good read
on 16 September 2012
First time I read this, I finished it in a week. At the time, that was a record for me (a record I kept until the Deathly Hallows came out which I finished in the space of about twenty hours). Unlike the previous book which was a 'run for your lives' adventure, this is a quest. We start off in Sheinar where Rand is just coming to terms with the fact he can channel and will go mad someday. In order to protect those he cares about, he estranges himself from them, a decision which will cause much friction throughout the novel. The story really starts when the legendary horn of Valere is stolen and an army of Sheinaran soldiers, along with Rand and his friends set out to hunt it down. The book suffers from a rather slow start, something that Jordan seems rather apt at doing. The hunt itself doesn't begin until chapter ten, a full quarter of the way through. The thing is, I don't really mind, Jordan is very good at setting the scene, and drawing the characters and where they are now that the previous adventure is over. It takes time, and for some, it may seem to be too much.
There are two notable things about this book. The first is the introduction of Tar Valon and Aes Sedai society. Unfortunately, nothing much happens here. Most of the narrative is devoted to how the culture operates and the customs and rituals they perform. This portion is probably the weakest part of the book. Doubly so because even the character moments aren't that interesting, and sometimes I even cringe at them (Egwene, Min and Elayne excitedly exclaiming, 'Let's be friends!' to each other just smacks of something out of My Little Pony). However, once they get whisked off to Toman Head, things get interesting. There they meet the other notable thing: The Seanchan. Aside from the forces of Darkness, this is the main enemy for most of the series and they are very well portrayed. And what they've done to women who can channel is a very novel, if horrific, idea.
But it is the ending that is the best. After plodding along at little faster than a snail, the last six to seven chapters pass by in a blur and I found it impossible to stop reading. It is an epic and exciting finale with so much happening.
All in all, this is a very good book, possibly better than its predecessor. Unfortunately, it suffers from a slow pace and a little clunky writing now and then, but it is nothing I can't get past.