I do a lot of driving, and audiobooks fill up the time. This series should see me through to retirement. Like the Great Hunt, the ending actually is really good. But I guess it’s an epic fantasy requirement that every conversation, meal, and footstep has to be documented. These books have no concept of ellipsis. See, a lot happens in the Star Wars universe in-between the end of Star Wars and the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back. But, wisely, we don’t spend five hours as the run-in with the bounty hunter at Ord Mantel unfolds in real-time. Instead, we get started right when the story gets interesting again. In the Wheel of Time books, there’s no prioritizing the interesting from the not interesting. Interesting: The concurrent fights at the Stone of Tear as the principal characters re-converge. Not interesting: The glacial-like journey each character takes to get to Tear (A distant land where people speak in fish metaphors.) I could say “spoiler alert” and tell you everything they go through, but I don’t need to bother because, one, nothing of any consequence happens and therefore there’s nothing to spoil, and, two, I barely remember what happened anyway. This book is 99% wind-up and 1% pitch.
Well, no, I’m wrong, not everything is documented. Rand Al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn himself and protagonist of the series is barely in this book. Jordan probably thought it was clever to leave Rand’s Achilles-moment off-page. (It worked for Homer, right?) And if so much uninteresting stuff wasn’t going on, it might have worked. But, instead, while Rand is off-screen mulling over his place in the Pattern, we see every other character having the equivalent of a run-in with a bounty hunter at Ord Mantell, or performing a little maneuver at the Battle of Tanab, or even falling into a nest of Gundarks. What I mean to say, is that everything that happens is something that can be skipped over. It just doesn’t matter. That is until the end, when Jordan wakes up, I wake up and things are interesting for a second.