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Review Revisited: Robert Jordan – Winter’s Heart

May 10, 2017

Re-read. Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan (2000)
The Wheel of Time, Book 9

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
7. A Crown of Swords
8. The Path of Daggers
12. The Gathering Storm
13. Towers of Midnight
14. A Memory of Light

Read By: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Length: 24h 20 min (800 pages)

Genre: Fantasy

Originally Read: 21 April 2005
Re-read Started: 18 July 2016
Re-read Finished: 17 August 2016

Where did it come from? Audible; paper copy was from eBay back in the day

It’s hard to fight the
Dark One if the magic you
use makes you crazy.

Summary: Tarmon Gai’don is coming, but before it does, Rand Al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, has a plan: he intends to cleanse saidin of the Dark One’s taint, so that men who can channel will no longer be doomed to madness. The Forsaken are moving to stop him, although they each have their own individual – and sometimes conflicting – schemes and orders. Mat, after having spent the previous book under a building, is being hunted by the gholam through the streets of Seanchan-controlled Ebou Dar, and is being hunted throughout the palace by Tuon, a Seanchan noblewoman who is strangely fascinated by him. Perrin is meeting with the Prophet and his Dragonsworn, at Rand’s request, when his wife Faile is kidnapped by the Shaido Aiel that are ranging across the countryside. Elayne is trying to solidify her rule of Andor, and the Aes Sedai Cadsuane is trying to get close to Rand so that she can reign in his increasingly self-destructive tendencies before the Last Battle.

Review: If you had asked me what happened in this book prior to re-reading it, after a gap of 11 years, I would have said “this is the book in which nothing happens except for Perrin searching for his wife and yelling “FAAAAIIIIILLLLLEE” and being annoying the whole time.” (I first read this book at the same time that Season 1 of Lost was airing, hence the “WAAAAAAAALT” / “FAAAAAIIIILLLLLEE” connection.)

But on a re-read, it turns out that the Perrin/Faile storyline actually took up relatively few chapters (despite what the cover would seem to suggest), and was much less annoying than I remember, which was good. Also, the cleansing of saidin, which I would have sworn didn’t happen until book 10, is totally in this book, and that’s a pretty big deal, and a pretty awesomely epic scene (or series of scenes, since it’s written in little snippets from lots of POVs.) However, that does make me wonder what actually does happen in Book 10. I suspect that’s it’s going to be all of the Perrin-being-annoying that wasn’t in this book, which does not make me particularly excited to get to it.

Anyways, back to this book. It’s not bad, exactly, but it is square in the middle of this series’s slump, where all of the multiple storylines that make this world so rich are just crawling along at slower than a snail’s pace, and it feels like no progress is made in any of them until the last fifty pages of the book. It is somewhat of a catch-22 — the wealth of characters and schemes and subplots are part of what makes this series so epic and so easy to get absorbed in, and by this point you are invested enough that it feels like spending time with friends. On the other hand, the fact that there’s so much going on and so many characters does mean that you never get as much time with your favorites as you’d like (no Egwene in this book at all, for example, just like there was no Mat in the last one), and there are definitely times when there are just so many schemes and plots and shifting alliances that it’s impossible to keep them all straight, and the whole thing just bogs down under its own weight.

Also, Tuon is introduced for the first time in this book, and she can already shut the hell up, because: seriously, shut up, Tuon. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This book is the point where I would have to tell my friends who were reading it for the first time “No, hang in there, it gets better eventually and stuff starts happening again.” So if you enjoyed the series in the beginning, my recommendation is just to slog through this book so you can get to the good stuff again. (Eventually, at least. As I remember, Book 10 is still pretty slow going.)

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First Line: Three lanterns cast a flickering light, more than enough to illuminate the small room with its stark white walls and ceiling, but Seaine kept her eyes fixed on the heavy wooden door.

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