Rating: 4 out of 5
I picked this up because of the Amazon series. I saw half of the first season prior to starting the book and for the remnant I was ahead in the book. As such, some things in the book felt new to me versus some decisions the show had made. All in all, I preferred the book even with the hodgepodge approach to it where I didn’t really pick it up until forced to. In many cases, Mr Jordan’s work makes a lot more sense than the show and this is good: because just watching the series one would have a number of questions.
However, this is a review of the book. It is difficult to make fantasy original. In this case, I felt like the dark side has been given much too much power by having them rule over both dreams and death, i.e., how can the other side win against an opponent where death (including in the fighting) is a loss for the ‘good’ side. In addition, the dark side is unmatched in numbers on any front: they have countless infantry, forced to work together by the spirit of The Dark One; they have their elite soldiers, the Myrddraal, whose numbers are also apparently limitless; and their air force which are oddly useless.
It is not difficult to see inspiration in other fantasy series here, but that doesn’t automatically make it bad. Some of the places, like the City of Shadow, are fairly interesting even if the plot lines that start there are not brought to a close in this volume. The Aes Sedai seem to be really bad a PR: I don’t understand how almost none of the peoples like them or even see that they are fighting against The Dark One even though this is what many of them seem to be doing. This bothered me because no society of educated magicians should be stupid enough to ignore the mass of people that they are supposedly helping.
These are holes that the series might patch later, but even so this seems to be a case where the ‘light’ side wins against the dark despite overwhelming odds. The battle at the gap is one such moment in this book but it’s not the combatants who prevail in this as much as the Dragon. It remains to be seen what the end result of this is, but where people this powerful walk the earth there seems little point in assigning armies to attack here or defend there.
Overall, I liked it even though I also think there are some big holes in the story. I suspect the following volumes help to work through these, but whether that is really so remains to be seen.