Review Revisited: Robert Jordan – Lord of Chaos
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Originally Read: 05 February 2005
Started: Around 06 September 2015
Re-read Finished: 01 October 2015
Where did it come from? From Audible; my paper version is from Amazon used.
Moiraine said “Trust no
one,” and Rand learns the hard way
not to ignore her.
Summary: Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, has declared himself to the world, secured his status as the Car’a’carn of the Aiel, killed several of the Forsaken, and is beginning to consolidate his hold on the lands west of the Dragonwall. He now holds Camelyn and Cairhien, although he doesn’t really want to rule either, preferring to turn them over to Elayne Trakand, the daughter heir of Queen Morgause, whom he (and everyone else) assume is dead. He’s also being approached by Aes Sedai emissaries – two sets of them, in fact, one from the White Tower, and one from Salidar, where the “rebel” Aes Sedai have set up their operations after Elaida’s coup. Rand knows he can’t trust either group – he can’t trust any Aes Sedai now that Moiraine is gone – but he needs their power and support. In Salidar, Nynaeve and Elayne are still holding Moghidien, a captured Forsaken, captive, using her for information about abilities that have been lost since the Breaking. And Egwene has been summoned from her training with the Aiel back to Salidar, where the Aes Sedai have plans for her… but find her substantially less biddable then they expect.
Review: It had been a long time since I had last re-read this book – almost 10 years! – and unsurprisingly, I’d forgotten a lot of what happens in this book. What I remembered from this book was Rand captured by the Aes Sedai, held in a box, going crazy, with Lews Therin speaking to him in his head more and more, until the battle of Dumai’s Wells. In the intervening ten years, that part of the book swelled in my recollection such that it made up at least half the book; I was kind of surprised, therefore, on the re-read to realize that Rand-in-a-Box only lasts for a few chapters at most.
Still, that leaves the vast, vast bulk of this book that I’d almost entirely forgotten, and that’s because not a lot really happens for a lot of it. I mean, Egwene being crowned Amyrlin in Salidar is a big deal, and a major turning point for the rest of the story, but otherwise… (And as awesome as that part is, and as awesome as its ramifications wind up being later in the series, it’s actually kind of sad, since it means that we don’t get more of her POV chapters regarding life among the Aiel, which I always found to be some of the most interesting parts in the previous two books.) But our other main characters don’t really make a lot of movement over the majority of the novel, either in the physical sense, or in the emotional sense. We do get what seems like a lot more POV chapters from various bad guys – either the Forsaken, or the Red Aes Sedai, or others – so we get more clues as to what their schemes are. Except: I’ve read this whole series before (twice, for most of it!) and I am still unclear as to what the Forsaken think they’re up to in this book, and how any of it accomplishes the Dark One’s ultimate goals. There are also a LOT of characters that get introduced here – mostly Aes Sedai in the various embassies to Rand, or in Salidar or in the tower – and I found it almost impossible to keep the names and affiliations and motivations straight as we’re being introduced to new character #57 (or maybe not new, maybe she was mentioned in passing four books ago, but that kind of proves my point). Thank goodness for Encyclopedia-WoT!
But, even though in retrospect, much of the book was spent scheming rather than doing, I didn’t get the impression of things being stagnant while I was listening to it. It held my interest pretty well, apart from some tuning out regarding all of the new characters being thrown around, only a handful of whom really turn out to be important later. I enjoyed listening to it (although I do wish Kate Reading and Michael Kramer had coordinated on their pronunciations a little better), enjoyed picking up on things that I’d missed before, and some of the things that have bothered me in other installments (particularly the weird formulaic and archaic gender relations) somehow weren’t as noticeable here – maybe because the characters had more defined goals and less time to snipe at each other? And the action definitely picks up at the end, of course, in a big climactic battle that was impressive enough that it’s the only thing I remembered a decade later. (There’s also some set-up for future books – sending Elayne, Nynaeve, and Mat into Ebou Dar, for one – that isn’t tense enough to be a cliff-hanger and so just feels out of place.) But overall, I quite enjoyed it, even the third time around. 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: This is – I believe – the longest of the Wheel of Time books (okay, I checked – Wikipedia says The Shadow Rising has more words, but this has the most pages.) It’s also a major turning point in the series in a number of ways. It’s not my favorite, but it’s definitely before the series starts to drag, so if you’ve enjoyed the series thus far, don’t be overly daunted by Lord of Chaos‘s length.
Other Reviews: A Dribble of Ink, It’s All About Books, The Wertzone, Wordsmithonia, and more at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
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First Line: Demandred stepped out onto the black slopes of Shayol Ghul, and the gateway, a hole in reality’s fabric, winked out of existence.
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