Read: 17 January, 2015
There were a few differences between this book and previous ones. For one thing, the final showdown broke tradition by not having Rand go mano-a-mano against one of the Foresaken. Rather, Rand is placed in a position of weakness, and his final battle is more of an internal one as he struggles to control his own madness (not to mention the conflict of how to deal with enemies when one is essentially a god, power wise).
Egwene’s storyline in this book was extremely interesting, as it has been previously. Her new relationship with Siuan is an extremely interesting dynamic that I hope will be further explored in future books.
Unfortunately, this book took all the subtle and ambiguous sexism of the previous books and really amped it up.
Mat, who only got one book as an interesting and amusing character, has turned into a full blown jerk here. He makes it abundantly clear that he does not view women as adult people. He doesn’t trust them to ever make decisions for themselves, not to understand the consequences of their choices when they do make them – which makes his obsession with getting “cuddles” suddenly seem quite predatory. Rather than listen to Egwene and the others, he assaults Egwene and rips her stole from her shoulders. He yells at her until an external force finally forces him to realize what she had been trying to tell him from the beginning (and that he would have known if he’d let her speak for more than a word or two at a time).
Then he has the audacity to whine for the rest of the book about how he just can’t understand women because it’s just such a great mystery that one of them might kick him for behaving like that. As though he wouldn’t have understood perfectly if a man had behaved the same way. It wouldn’t have been quite so bad if it were made clear that this is his character, and not meant to be a wink from the author to the presumed male audience about how cray-cray them bitches are, amiright? At least one other male character giving him major side eye and telling him what a douche he was would have completely changed the tone of the book. Instead, I’m becoming increasingly suspicious that the great arc is for the female characters to learn proper submission to male authority.
Another serious weakness emerging in the series is Perrin and Faile’s relationship, which reads like some sort of Gorean fantasy. Faile’s constant jealous, including her reaction to Perrin merely hugging a female friend after he hadn’t seen her for a long time, reads like a terrible sitcom. And the whole bit with her parents where it is explained that strong women need to be “trained” by stronger men or they will henpeck their husbands to death very nearly had me giving up on the series. I keep hoping that it’s just meant to be sexist characters who will eventually learn something about working together and mutual respect, but all the reminders about women’s role being one of submission are starting to make me suspicious that the issue is much greater than that.
Faile and Perrin’s relationship also seems very toxic. We have Faile’s jealousy (getting angry at him whenever a woman she thinks is attractive happens to be in the same room), and her constant hitting and scratching of Perrin (at one point apparently done to ‘mark her territory’ or some such nonsense). Then we have Perrin bending Faile over his knee and spanking her, and then wanting to do it again later whenever he can’t be bothered to talk to her or to try to see things from her perspective. The whole thing is rather disgusting.
In fact, for that matter, all of the romantic relationships in the book seem rather toxic (or, at least, delusional) to one extent or another.
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More books in the Wheel of Time series:
- Series: The Wheel of Time
- Prequel: New Spring (graphic novel version)
- The Eye of the World (graphic novel version)
- The Great Hunt
- The Dragon Reborn
- The Shadow Rising
- The Fires of Heaven
- Lord of Chaos
- Crown of Swords
- The Path of Daggers
- Winter’s Heart
- Crossroads of Twilight
- Knife of Dreams
- The Gathering Storm, with Brandon Sanderson
- Towers of Midnight, with Brandon Sanderson
- A Memory of Light, with Brandon Sanderson