And now, I fear, I must recant something I’ve been saying in my reviews of the past three books. I called it “the slowing of the plot.” But as I reread this book, the last of my rereads before I move ahead into new territory, I realized something. It’s not that the plot slowed down during those books, it’s that there was no story arc to contain each volume. From beginning to end, things happened, and we moved toward the last battle, but nothing contained the events in the story. The endings came out of the blue, a bit of elevated action in place of a real climax because a real climax has to develop from what came before.
The reason I remembered this book with much more fondness than the previous three is that there was a goal, and arc. Rand is determined to take care of a few people who might stab him in the back and then clean the male have of the source. The book didn’t focus on that — Elayne spent a lot of time trying to claim her throne (finally) and Mat had to work to flee Ebu Dar (meeting the daughter of the nine moons in the process). Perrin’s wife has been captured and he’s going after her. Meanwhile, we have some of those minor points of view. But between and around all of that, I had a direction for the book. Rand had a goal. It made this volume markedly better than the ones which came before, and frankly revitalized the series.
Well, and of course, cleaning the male half of the source was a BIG thing that happened. There’s a feeling of real progress here. Armies are poised on the bring of battle, people scheme for thrones, and the characters have both personal and world-changing problems. But for all that, one big thing happened.
I left off here largely because when I tried to pick up book 10 I couldn’t remember enough of the previous volumes to know what was going on. There are too many minor characters to keep them all in my head, and I had forgotten enough things about the major characters (there are plenty of those as well)! I also stopped, though, because I had lost confidence in the idea that the story would ever end. I admit it. I swore to myself I would pick it up again when every book was written, and not a day sooner. That has happened. It happened under the co-authorship of someone else due to Jordan’s untimely passing, but it’s happened.
And so I recall why, despite my complaints, I was willing to read this all again once that final volume came out. There are parts of the story that bore me and parts thlight penneat excite me, but underneath it all is the richest world I have ever read, multi-faceted and brilliantly constructed. I consider it a must read for anyone who truly enjoys fantasy.
I look forward to reporting on the last five books of the series as I read them for the first time. The stakes are high, and so is my excitement.
Title: Winter’s Heart
Author: Robert Jordan
Published January 2002