"I Must Read, Read, and Read. It is my Vocation." - Thomas Merton
This is where I chronicle my reading life. I also blog about writing at Lacey's Late-night Editing.
WOW this book took me a long time to get through.
Perhaps simply because I did not move through this book as quickly as I thought I would I am inclined to give it a lower rating. Although all Wheel of Time books ARE long, this one also FELT long, and it got to be a bit of a headache holding all the various story threads in my mind. Admittedly, I still glaze over whenever we go into the "darkfriends" PoV, and just figure I'll ask the Internet to help me later.
Overall, this book held my attention well enough but did not rivet me often or make it difficult to stop listening. The most interesting aspect of it was Egwene's being raised to Amyrlin, which I could have spent more time on. But aside from that, Jordan's treatment of/portrayal of women in this volume was particularly frustrating. We have his typical formula wherein he thinks "headstrong" and "stubborn" equals "strong woman," and we don't see nearly enough differentiation personality-wise between the various women who possess these qualities. But added to that, Min becomes a total bimbo in the last third of the book, Fayeel comes across as overly dramatic and casts Perrin as sympathetic and so long-suffering, Alanna bonds Rand without his consent, which as far as I'm concerned is pretty much rape, and then, of course, to top it all off, the "bad" Ai Sedai kidnap and torture him, which causes him to distrust ALL Ai Sedai and force them to "bow" to him. My husband says we are *supposed* to feel uncomfortable with this development -- but we are also "supposed" to root for Rand, so there's a very fine line here between whether we are supposed to fear Rand is going down a dark path, or whether we are supposed to rejoice that he's finally put those women in their place. The final battle is particularly gruesome as Rand's channeling men come to his rescue and explode a bunch of people, and again, I'm not sure whether, as a reader, I am supposed to be in awe or disgusted -- I was disgusted. And to top it all off, Jordan supposedly killed off the strongest female character in the series. I'm still holding out hope that Moraine is not really dead and that she will return in a later book, but the fact that she remained absent from this volume was just one more point against it. Maybe I'll have to read New Spring to get my fix of a female character who is actually done well.
So, sorry that the majority of this review was hidden behind spoiler tags, but my rating/reaction to this volume is so totally intertwined with its portrayal of women and the way the story played out. My husband says it "self-corrects" as the series goes on, but I still believe in judging each individual book on its merits -- and I can see why this book constitutes a "stopping" point for a lot of readers, particularly female readers. I will carry on, but will probably wait another year before picking up the next one.