The Wheel of Time turns … and turns … and turns

I’m about two-thirds of the way through the latest installment (Book 12) of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. This is the first book of the series to have been finished by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s death. Sanderson has said that he will be able to finish the series in two more books.

I approached these co-written books with some trepidation. But I do really want to know what happens. And it’s not like the last half of the series had actually been that good, after all. (A friend of mine said that The Wheel of Time is like drugs. You keep trying the books, hoping they’ll be as good as they were the first time you got high. But they never are. I personally think books 4 and 5 are brilliant, but after that, the pace starts to drag a bit. Then it starts to drag a lot.)

So, is the new book good? Well, yes. The pace is a lot quicker, for one thing. The plot hasn’t moved like this in over a decade. As far as I can tell, every scene in the novel has a purpose in advancing the plot. And there’s way less detail about Aes Sedai fashion. No more Project Runway Tar Valon! And somehow–I don’t know whether it’s Sanderson’s skill as a writer, or Jordan having finally nailed the characterization before he passed away–Rand doesn’t seem as whiny anymore. The Rand scenes finally seem to have struck the right balance between terrible responsibility and abject guilt, and it’s a huge improvement.

I don’t think the Mat scenes are quite right. Mat just doesn’t seem as much fun as he did in earlier books. But I didn’t notice anything else that felt off. Egwene’s scenes are perfect! (I think Egwene is my favorite character, after perhaps Moiraine.)

Definitely looking forward to the last two books!

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