Rating: 5 out of 5
While this volume was perhaps a little bit weaker than the preceding one, I really enjoyed it. The activity was a bit complex to follow, mostly because of everyone’s wish to keep as many secrets as possible. My feelings about the characters are pretty consistent to the previous book.
Rand was the most complicated one here, as is natural. His willingness to always pay himself further is not commendable, especially where this seems to be one of the reasons he keeps on being entrapped and endangered. This also made me wish for a different outcome than the final showdown, which confused me even more because it seems I have missed one visit to Shadar Logoth by our characters.
Egwene was perhaps the most enjoyable, carrying on the quiet politicking that I like to read about. What I didn’t appreciate is that her story didn’t have a clear ending for this volume—the event at which the reader is left with Egwene seems like a minor step, more an auxiliary to the main events elsewhere than anything more.
Perrin’s story was interesting, to have him back after a volume from which he was missing, but his focus seemed to be solely on Faile with the second place going to complaining. What we didn’t get is an explanation of how he ended up with Rand, and I would have liked that to draw things together better.
Mat was very enjoyable throughout, including his grumblings about Elayne, Nynaeve, and Tylin. His adventures in Ebou Dar were made better by having him be very much on the ground, seeing things that neither Elayne nor Nynaeve spotted. I also found his attitude a relatively pleasant change compared to Perrin and Rand, making him one of the best characters to read in this volume. My main complaint here is that the Ebou Dar storyline was left rather too open by the end.
Elayne, although she featured in only very few chapters, was pretty good. She’s grown compared to the Elayne of the previous book (mostly it seems due to interaction with Aviendha), and even if we ignore the regal bearing, it’s very pleasant to see her giving due credit to Mat for a lot of things.
On the other hand, Nynaeve comes out even worse here than in the previous title. She continues to be overbearing and secretive, especially when there is no reason for it. Most importantly, however, what I find absolutely inexcusable, is how she purposefully avoided mentioning to Mat that two of his soldiers who had been assigned to her had died. In many ways I don’t see how she can recover from such haughty manners given her absolute refusal to apologize (broken only a few times).
By the end, we are again a few steps closer to the end, excepting that another very big step has been taken backwards. I am guessing this moves the emphasis of the next book to a different theater, but let’s wait and see.