Top positive review
Who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time, may learn the truth too late...
Reviewed in the United States on April 22, 2019
I'm sitting between four and five stars for A Crown of Swords, the seventh installment in the Wheel of Time, but I think four hits the mark. Speaking of hitting the mark, I am now officially halfway through the series. I will give fair warning there are (light) spoilers below. Heavy ones will be hidden. The light ones may come off as obvious even to non-readers, but still I want to warn.
Now, this one starts out in an interesting and appropriate way. The prologue gives us a glimpse of what was happening just prior to (and during) the events at Dumai's Wells from points of view we did not get to see, and then the first few chapters deal with the immediate aftermath. I say appropriate because the implications and repercussions of Dumai's Wells was immense, and so to cover it this way with no pause was really well done. Jordan actually purposefully keeps us out of Rand's head for a bit at the start, making us guess at his inner turmoil after said events. This was well done too. Eventually of course we do hop back inside his head, and his story continues to grip me. The pain of it. The necessity. The inner turmoil. The Dragon Reborn's conquest continues as he brings folk and faction of all kind under his banner in preparation for Tarmon Gaidon. Even if it takes him a little while to do so. Even if women confuse him. (Do I still need to touch on the ridiculousness of the whole 'Men vs. Women' attitude the books are riddled with? I don't see it changing, so I just stomach it, but Jordan.. just, come on, man.)
It's sort of funny; when I read these I am pulled in two different directions internally. I swing between the feeling that a lot is happening, and the feeling that almost nothing is happening. It's hard to pinpoint the cause of both of these feelings, but I think it has something to do with just how detailed Robert Jordan is. The man is extremely descriptive. Not just when it comes to his world; the clothes, the cities, the buildings, the colors, the animals, the people, but also when it comes to our characters. Meaning we end up spending a lot of time in our character's heads. So when something relatively small is accomplished, or something that takes a relatively short amount of time, it can end up feeling like it took a much longer amount of time. In this way, Jordan is able to stuff a lot of content into what amounts to pretty short amounts of 'in-world' time.
There are both pros and cons to this. One obvious pro is that (if you get behind this sort of thing) you can sink very deep into the story and world; full immersion, so to speak. The obvious con.. is that it can also feel a bit dry at times. You can spend significant amounts of time in POVs that you don't find all that interesting. Or POVs that you do find interesting, but that happen to be in the middle of a situation that you don't find that interesting. It's an unfortunate reality of sprawling, epic tales like this one. So, the question is do the pros outweigh the cons in these situations? For me the answer is yes. Bits of this story did drag a little. For example, the plot piece that Nynaeve, Elayne, Aviendah, and Mat are involved in is one that I expected to be resolved by the end of book six. Here, at the end of book seven, it has only just begun to be resolved. Rather, it was resolved, but new complications have arisen. Now this is where the pros and cons come in, because I find these complications quite interesting, to say the least, and I'm eager to see what comes next. It's give and take.
I guess to sum it up, I love the world of the Wheel of Time. So I will plod through slow parts to get to the juicy ones. And make no mistake, Jordan did make sure to keep up the pace when it slowed. Several events in this book were long awaited, and others very exciting. It was welcome to have a fair amount of Perrin chapters, and perhaps the most Mat chapters of any of the books thus far. Mat Cauthon is fast becoming a favorite character of mine. Jordan is good at something that Sanderson does a lot, and I can't help but think Brandon was influenced in this regard. He raises questions within the story; about a character, about a place, about an event, and then eventually gives answer. But he always raises more interesting questions. I am still learning more about this world with every single book. There is so much we don't know yet, and I'm here to learn it all. Book eight is up next.
'Master of the lightnings, rider on the storm, wearer of a crown of swords, spinner-out of fate. Who thinks he turns the Wheel of Time, may learn the truth too late.'