And so begins the slowing of the plot…
I say this from the perspective of someone who was fond enough of this story to be willing to reread these long books in order to finally see how it ends, but let’s face it, the number 1 complaint of readers when it comes to The Wheel of Time is that it slows to a crawl. I might argue that the slowing began in book 5, but it’s in full force in book 6.
What happened in this book? A dozen tiny shifts, mostly political. The points of view have begun to explode, particularly in the prologue, which bounced from viewpoint to viewpoint so quickly it was difficult to keep up. Most of those minor viewpoints are from the forsaken — the bad guys — and what I learn from them amounts to “the bad guys are plotting against the good guys and one another” — except with several thousand more words. 🙂
On this reread, it occurred to me that for all Rand, Mat, and Perrin are Ta’veran, we spend a lot more time with Elayne, Egwayne, and Nynaeve. The sixth book covers a lot of positioning in terms of the Aes Sedai split. Meanwhile, I have to say that Elayne is coming across as brattier than I remember. I actually think it’s pretty irresponsible of her to avoid returning to her throne at this point. That’s something only she can do — the quest she’s on right now is something others could do. I don’t know if anyone else sees it that way. Certainly none of the other characters seem to see it that way.
Perrin returns to the story near the end. I really like his character because he’s such a nice guy. There aren’t many of those in this story — or in real life, to be fair. It’s nice that there’s one. Too bad he went and married a prickly jealous witch. She doesn’t deserve him.
I don’t know why Faile rubs me the wrong way so badly. I didn’t like her in my first read. This time, I’m trying to be a bit more objective, but I still can’t find anything to like about her. It’s not that she’s a horrible person, but there’s nothing that stands out about her, nothing that makes me want to like her despite her flaws. The jealous drives me particularly crazy, because it’s stupid. She’s got no reason to be jealous at all.
Speaking of women (I may as well speak of women because the endless politicking in this book kind of bored me), Minn is back in Rand’s orbit now. Convenient that so far none of his three women have been around at the same time. But Rand is an idiot. Minn is sitting on his lap and kissing him, but he doesn’t think she’s serious. She’s just playing a game. And do you want to know what the worst part is? It is absolutely, 100% believable. Men! Get a clue! (Not that I’ve had any personal experience…well yeah, I have.)
Actually, I kind of like what’s going on between Minn and Rand. Rand is slowly going crazy in this book. It’s the price he pays for channeling, and it’s pretty well done. Lews Therin is in his head, and he has to fight the voice of the crazy man. One of the things I am eager to find out in future volumes is whether Rand every overcomes this. I can’t see how he can do what he has to do without getting control over his own head.
Anyway…Minn is one of the few things that humanizes him. More than that, his shyness reminds me that he was once a shepherd. While the rest of him changes — hardens and goes mad — he still has a touch of humanity left.
Plus, of all his three women, Minn makes the most sense. It’s strange, because she wasn’t my favorite the first time through, but now I see things differently. She’s a rock. A foundation. Exactly what a man in his position needs. She has a useful skill and advises him, but she’s also a soft place for him to fall and an anchor for him to cling to. She doesn’t try to control him or manipulate him (past sitting on his lap and kissing him…but that’s largely showing her interest), she’s just there for him. I can’t say the same of Elayne, who wants to bond him as her warder and make him do what she says. (She’s a bit too late — someone else already tried that and it didn’t work out at all well for her.) As for Aviendha…I don’ know. She’s spent too much time trying to fight her attraction to Rand for me to know what kind of person she would be if she did anything else. At this point, she mostly seems like the cultural icon that makes the idea of Rand having three wives okay.
ANYWAY….not too many moves on the chessboard this round. I don’t think another big moves happens until book 9, but it has been over a decade and I’m reading these again because the details are so fuzzy. (I actually tried to pick up book 10 and couldn’t recall who almost any of the characters in the prologue were, so I gave up.)
Title: Lord of Chaos
Author: Robert Jordan
Published November 1995