Review Revisited: Robert Jordan – A Crown of Swords
Read my review of book:
1. The Eye of the World
2. The Great Hunt
3. The Dragon Reborn
4. The Shadow Rising
5. The Fires of Heaven
6. Lord of Chaos
12. The Gathering Storm
13. Towers of Midnight
14. A Memory of Light
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Originally Read: 24 February 2005
Started: 01 March 2016
Finished: 16 March 2016
Where did it come from? From Audible; my paper version is from some used book store or site, but I got it before I started keeping track of where.
“Rand Al’Thor and the
Search for the Magic Bowl” does
not have the same ring.
Summary: Rand, still recovering from the effects of Dumai’s Wells, and still fighting to maintain his ever-more-tenuous grip on sanity, returns to Cairhien and begins to establish plans with Perrin for removing the Forsaken Sammael from his seat in Illian. Egwene comes to realize how various factions of the rebel Salidar Aes Sedai are trying to manipulate her, and finds a way to gather loyal allies. But most of this book concerns events in Ebou Dar, where Nynaeve and Elayne are searching for the Bowl of the Winds, a ter’angreal that can fix the weather. Mat, sent to guard them, finds himself in a worse predicament than even his luck can get him out of when he catches the eye of Queen Tylin.
Review: Although I gave this book 4.5 stars when I first read it, if you’d asked me about it before I started this re-read, I would have said that it was one of the boring books in the middle – a span that I had thought started after Lord of Chaos. But actually, on this re-read, I wound up enjoying this more than I had expected. All of the problems that plague the worst parts of this series are still present – there is a lot of sniffing, braid tugging, and skirt-smoothing going on, men still think women are impossible to understand and women still think men are too dim to reason with, there is a lot of unnecessary description of clothing and furniture and such, none of the characters seems capable of ever articulating what they’re thinking, all of our three ta’veren think that the other two understand more about women than they do, etc. (Although Rand thinking that “Perrin has such a peaceful marriage”… I realize you are the Dragon Reborn and have other things on your mind and all, but seriously, NO ONE is that unobservant.) But many of them seemed at least somewhat scaled back from peak levels elsewhere in the series (although Elayne and Nynaeve fighting with each other is still present, and still tedious).
There are also not many chapters from Egwene, who is one of my favorites, or Perrin, who used to be one of my favorites, although when he is on-screen in this book he is spending all of his time being annoying about sacrificing everything and everyone for Faile, who is the worst (so maybe less Perrin at this point in the series is actually a blessing. Remind me of that once I get to Winter’s Heart.) By this point, Mat has become one of my favorites, although he spends the entirety of this book being sexually harrased (and assaulted!) by Tylin, which bothered me a lot more this time around than it did on a first read through ten years ago – it’s behaviour that would be totally unacceptable if the genders were reversed, and as is, I think Jordan probably meant it to read as funny or sexy, but it came across as severely gross and inappropriate. And then at the end Mat has a building dropped on him, which marks his absence from the next book, alas.
But, for as much time is spent on relatively inconsequential things, lots of big things happen in this book, or at least things that will be important later on. Min and Rand finally admit their feelings for each other and have sex (leaving Elayne and Egwene the lone virgins, I think?) Nynaeve finally breaks her block (this is likely responsible for the reduced amounts of braid-tugging) and meets up again with Lan. Mat buys his ring with the fox and ravens. We are introduced to Cadsuane, Moridin, the Kin, and the gholam. The Seanchan take Amadicia and Ebou Dar. And then, at the end, Rand kills Sammael, except not really, since it’s mostly Mashadar that kills him and we’re never really sure he’s dead (except RJ said in interviews that he really was), and it’s kind of anticlimactic and definitely one of the weaker endings. But all in all, this book went pretty quickly, with not too much bloat – at least not as much as I’d remembered – and while it’s certainly not among the best books in the series, it’s not the worst, either… although it’s starting to be on the downhill slope. 4 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: This is the series that made me a lifelong fantasy fan, so despite its abundant weaknesses, of course I think it should probably be read (or at least attempted) by anyone who likes the genre. Don’t start anywhere but the beginning, though.
First Line: From the tall arched window, close onto eighty spans above the ground, not far below the top of the White Tower, Elaida could see for miles beyond Tar Valon, to the rolling plains and forests that bordered the broad River Erinin, running down from north and west before it divided around the white walls of the great island city.
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