The fourth part of fourteen books in the Wheel of Time is one of the best. This is a general opinion, not simply my own. However I tend to think that the last three so far have perhaps been my favourites in the series.What works?1. Storytelling -
Robert Jordan knows how to tell a story and he is at the peak of his power in this novel. There are multiple perspectives involved which include all the main characters off on their individual tasks. Robert Jordan knows when to introduce certain plot points for the most part and how to get into character's heads when writing in their perspectives.2. The inspiration -
The Wheel of Time is an inspirational piece of fantasy storytelling. Sad to say many of the books it inspired aren't that good. I believe Terry Goodkind was inspired by this but I can't say his books are really that great, so maybe that's not a point in Robert Jordan's favour.3. The ideas -
The second and third books are the start of the unique fantasy ideas. This fourth book is where we see a lot more of those ideas such as how the magic system can be used to create transportation and balefire. Balefire is such an interesting if deadly idea in this entire series I must admit. Tel'aran'rhiod is as interesting as it was in the third book and we see the Choedan Kal for the first time.4. The characters -
In this book there are plenty of characters and each of the main characters is fascinating. Mat has a trickster persona, Rand is a fascinating mixture of developing insanity and sanity and Perrin and Faile have an incredible relationship going. The other Aes Sedai girls don't get as much of a look in this book but what they do is interesting enough if not as interesting as what the guys get up to.What doesn't or might not work?1.Formula -
The Wheel of Time novels are quite formulaic in some aspects. Each book seems to have a lot of moving around, questing and focusing on gaining certain items and so on for the final battle. Of course that is putting everything very simply but if you're a reader who tends to notice that each book is focused on a quest and different task to prepare for a final battle then maybe you might not like these books.2. Gender relations -
Yes, Robert Jordan in some ways can write female characters. Faile for instance is one of the golden female characters in fantasy in my personal opinion. However he has a problem at times with a)letting his female characters become merely characters there to boss around the men and tell them what idiots they are (sterotyping) and b)overemphasising certain traits in the relationships between the male and female characters. For instance braid tugging and biting of or pursing of lips is mentioned far too often. Not to mention that stubborn characters become even more stubborn at times.3. Characters -
Since there are a lot of characters in The Wheel of Time there can be a little issue of what I call 'same character syndrome.' In short, Jordan at times makes his secondary characters too similar in actions and appearance. You might notice that a lot of the Aiel look similar, a lot of Domani look similar and at times some of the main characters (particularly the young Aes Sedai) start to talk like each other and act the same.4. The writing -
Robert Jordan's writing is not terrible but then it's not the greatest. At times his phrasing is awkward, at other times it's too verbose and he often lacks the subtlety of other authors. I also noticed a particularly bad use of deus ex machina at the end of this novel.Conclusion?
One of my favourite ideas about this entire series is that of how it reflects what history does. There is the suggestion that old and buried things come to life again and I really think that reflects upon history entirely. I have seen a lot of movements and ideas from the past rise up again whether they be fashion ideas which died out decades or centuries ago. It shows that ideas never truly die and this series reflects that.
All that said there is no novel without flaws. If there were that author would have to be a deity. Since writing is born out of people's thoughts there is no way that any book won't have flaws. People are flawed, hence the books they write will be flawed. This review has many flaws. However flaws humanise a work in many ways and when you develop a love for a book you realise that despite the flaws that is 'your' book. You've claimed a personal love for it.