Top positive review
A bit of a slog, but worth it.
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.