Winter’s Heart, the ninth book of Robert Jordan’s famous fantasy series “The Wheel of Time,” is finally out in trade paperback published by Tor, though the hardback version first came out in 2000. “The Wheel of Time” is a much-acclaimed series, with many of its fans comparing its epic plots and complex writing style to that of J.R.R. Tolkein’s “The Lord of the Rings” series. Another volume in the series, Crossroads of Twilight, has since been released, with events that take place simultaneously with those in Winter’s Heart. As Winter’s Heart is now newly released in paperback, here’s yet another look at what this book is about.
Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan has many good qualities, but as many fans have noted, it also has its share of bad qualities, as well. After the first three books of “The Wheel of Time” that most fans and critics declare almost uniformly were brilliant, it would be difficult for any volumes that followed to come close to matching those. Some fans, who stayed loyal to the series despite what they considered to be lesser, flawed works that followed, have admitted that they only continue to read the series out of intellectual curiosity, with the hope that Robert Jordan will recapture some of the earlier brilliance of the initial three books.
It’s good that Robert Jordan has moved a few of the major plot lines forward with Winter’s Heart, and the book definitely shows steps of returning to the writing style and overall excellent writing that defined the first three books of “The Wheel of Time.” Mat Cauthon comes back into the plot line and has several good chapters, for instance, and there are not the juvenile romances that marked many of the later books of the series. Without revealing too many spoilers, certain events happen that had been anticipated would happen, and the story resolves certain mysteries, like who killed someone described as “the grey man” back in book three.
Mat was not in the previous book. In Winter’s Heart, Mat finds himself trapped in the city of Ebou Dar in Altara, currently under Seanchan occupation, and he seeks a means of escape. His plans are disrupted, though, by a prophecy. A Seanchan noblewoman, Tuon, interferes with his escape plans. She is actually the Daughter of the Nine Moons, heir to the Seanchan Crystal Throne, the person named in a prophecy who Mat will eventually marry. So, instead of doing something like tying Tuon up and leaving her behind, Mat decides to kidnap her and take her along with him.
Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, is also back in Winter’s Heart. He is now a warder, bonded by Elayne Trakand, Aviendha, and Min Farshaw. It’s Rand’s job and duty to hunt down Asha’man traitors in Far Madding. He kills most of them. Rand and Nynaeve al’Meara Travel to Shadar Logoth, with the intent of cleansing saidin of the Dark One’s taint so that men who channel will no longer go mad. They use up so much power that the access key of Choedan Kal is destroyed.
What are some bad things about Winter’s Heart?
One of the “bad” things about Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan is that the cliffhanger from book eighth of Egwene and her entourage getting ever closer to the White Tower is not resolved. Also, the prologue of the book is over 70 pages long, which is kind of a lot to wade through before one even gets to the first chapter of Winter’s Heart. Even then, the first six chapters go back and forth between the characters Faile and Perrinm, without much happening in them to add very much to the plot line.
Besides this, there are many minor characters with very similar names, which makes keeping up with who’s who rather difficult. For instance, there’s Daiian and Dagin, and Degian and Dagean. There’s also Dain and Deain; Cadsuane and Caredwain; Egwen, Elayne, Ellaine,and Faolain; and Jain and Lain. This is just scratching the surface of the characters in the entire series who have similar sounding names. This is a complaint that can also be leveled, to a degree, against J.R.R. Tolkein.
Winter’s Heart has many things going for it, but first, you have to be willing to either wade through, or skip, the 70+ page prologue. It’s one of the better later books in “The Wheel of Time” series, and Robert Jordan is getting closer to recapturing the magic of the first three books of the series. It’s a Must Read for fans of “The Wheel of Time” series, but they will likely read any book of the series out of a sense of loyalty to a great author, who, at his best, is one of the greatest fantasy authors, living or dead. For everyone else, who have never read any of the books of “The Wheel of Time” series, begin from the beginning, read the first three books, and see why Robert Jordan and “The Wheel of Time” series has legions of fans.
Written by: Douglas Cobb