All right, I have to establish something before I get into my discussion of this book. First off, I’ve never been one who complained about the length of these books or the lack of motion in them. Like many fans who feel as I do, I would go along with others in conversations, giving a non-committal grunt when they lapsed into bashing the Wheel of Time for having grown too slow. But inside, I always thought “I think they’re still as fun to read as they always were. Beyond that, why are you reading them if you always complain about them?” Anyway, it often wouldn't be worth arguing to me. (I still would sometimes on forums, however, and soon learned that that wouldn't get me anywhere.)
Now I'm the person who has become the visible face for the Wheel of Time series, and now it IS my job--in my opinion--to defend them. So, I want to talk about Book Ten and say straight out that I really do think it's as enjoyable as the rest of the books in the series. (By my own admission above, however, I am biased. I'm both a long-time fan of the series and the person working on book twelve.)
I know that readers feel that this book was too slow. The novel has one and a half stars on Amazon (and one star is the lowest possible.) I realize this, logically, but I have trouble seeing it myself. Perhaps people’s complaints with this book has to do with the sense of narrative style. Mr. Jordan chose to jump back in time and show the timeframe in Book Nine over and over again from different viewpoints. However, this has always been one of the features of the series, and I--as a writer--was very interested in the format of this book. Rand’s cleansing of the taint formed a wonderful focus around which everything in this book could revolve, much in the way that he as a person pulls at threads in the Pattern and forces them to weave around him.
I particularly enjoyed Mat’s sections in this book. I find myself growing more and more interested in his plot, and am picking him as my favorite character of late. I really enjoy his interactions with Tuon, and they have an interesting relationship, as both know that they’re fated to marry. (Or, at least, he knows and she’s very suspicious.) As a side note, however, I feel that the covers for this one and book nine are reversed. Book Nine was more important to Mat, and this book is more important to Perrin. Yet the covers imply the opposite. I digress.
In truth, I have a lot of trouble understanding what people found boring about this book, yet at the same time exciting about Book Ten. The two--like all of the recent books in the series--very much seem to be chapters in a much longer book, all blending together and flowing as one. Perhaps it comes from us not being able to actually SEE characters react to the cleansing, as they don’t know what happened yet--they only know that something big happened. But, then, that’s an issue in book ten--and the complaints in reviews rarely, if ever, mention this item. In the end, I guess it has to come down to people’s dislike of the Perrin/Faile plot. (But, once again, Perrin has always been one of my favorites, if not my favorite, characters in the book. So, his sequences are always fun for me.)
This plot is interesting because it offers Perrin a chance to change in a different direction--and, I think, in an important direction. His wife’s imprisonment forces him to face some of the darkness in himself, and it is what finally spurs him to give up the axe. Those are important events--he needs to be forced to admit that he has begun to like fighting and killing. Confronting that aspect of himself is what will give him the strength to lead into Book Twelve.
Anyway, I didn’t intend this to be an extended defense of the book, but that’s what it came out to be. It’s now been over a week since I finished it, and while there is much more I could write, I think it’s time to let the blog post end for now. The big news is that I’m done with my read through. In fact, I officially began writing on Book Twelve this afternoon.
There was a powerful moment there for me when I got to write those words “The Wheel of Time turns. . . .” Mr. Jordan, despite his preparations for the book, didn’t actually write those words that have started each book in the series. I guess he figured he didn’t need to, since they’ve been the same since book one. He knew that his time might come soon, so he focused on more important scenes.
That left me being able to write the opening paragraph to chapter one. (Though, of course, there will be a prologue. While those words won’t start the book, I decided that they would be the way that I started work on it.)
It has begun.