Rereading Wheel of Time: Fires of Heaven (Book 5)

Nations fall. The tower breaks. And the seals on the dark one’s prison are crumbling at an alarming rate.

In my rereading of book 5 of the Wheel of Time, I felt a bit impatient with one of the subplots — Elayne and Nynaeve trek across the world after dealing with black aja members in Tanchico. They discover the tower has broken, change course to meet with the refugees from the tower, and meet up with a travelling menagerie. They also spent a lot of time in the world of dreams. Some of it was necessary, but I found it tedious, and thought the important aspects of the subplot could have been handled in half the time.

Unfortunately, this will become my biggest complaint with the series. In part, it needed many volumes because the world is so rich and the epic saga so big. But in part, some of it just drones on. It begins here. The next three books in the series continue this trend, if memory serves. I will report more accurately after my rereading of each volume.

Rand has embraced his role by now, and by the end of this book he has even accepted the need to use his friends. Perhaps they sensed it, and that’s why they were wary of him before. He has also made the first step towards gaining his harem, an odd subplot I’m not sure I completely understand, but which is, at least, consistent from book 1. I hope at some point the fact that he falls in love with three women becomes plot relevant, and not simply an oddity, if for no other reason than I’m not sure what draws him to each woman. It’s not that each is different — I respect that part, actually. It suggests that each provides him with something he needs — it’s that he has honestly not spent much time with Elayne or Min for all the time he spends dreaming about them. I’m not sure I get what attracted him. Of course, I do read romance, and this isn’t, so perhaps my expectations are off. Perrin’s love interest never did anything for me, either. She was just there, and he loves her. Maybe real romance is as simple and unexplainable as that, and I look for too much because of the spun tales of romance I enjoy. 🙂

Perrin is absent from this story, which disappointed me the first time through, but which I feel I understand better this time. Honestly, enough was happening without another distant point of view coming into things. Better to focus a bit, and bring him back in when it’s important. It isn’t as if I’ve forgotten him, or that Rand has forgotten him.

Mat had the most interesting character development here, finally accepting that he’s tied to Rand whether he likes it or not. Of the three, he’s the most childish, but maybe he’s going to grow up.

Egweyne’s character development strikes me as a bit off. Then again, I am an inherently open person, not prone to keeping secrets for the sake of secrets. (This isn’t the same as betraying a confidence.) The Aes Sedai have been presented this way, full of secrets, and in this book Egweyne embraces that secrecy, often for no particular reason. I was particularly unsure why she kept secrets from Rand, who of all people needs information. If not from his friends, then from who? The girl who left the Two Rivers all but betrothed to him, who told him she loved him only as a sister in book 4, has now taken another step away.

Of course, it remains a complex, intricate story well worth the reading…even rereading. On to Lord of Chaos!

Rating 4/5

Title: Fires of Heaven
Author: Robert Jordan
ISBN: 1857232097
Published November 1994

Posted in Book Reviews, Fantasy and tagged , , , , , .