The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

I read this series fairly continuously between June, 2014 and August, 2015 – just over a year. That’s a pretty big investment of time, and the question I get asked most often by people who haven’t read the series yet is: Is it worth it?

And that’s a difficult question to answer. There are things that I really enjoyed about the series – enough so that I don’t feel like my time was misspent, I don’t regret reading it – but there are also some pretty big flaws. So I guess I’ll just note my thoughts, and let anyone who reads this draw their own conclusions.

I’ve heard complaints that Jordan did a lot of ripping off of Tolkien’s work, but I think that he did that intentionally, as a way of situating the reader (within the micro context of the Two Rivers) before taking us out into the wider world. In fact, I think that’s very much like what Tolkien himself was doing, in providing us with Hobbits who are in many ways so much like early 20th century Brits. I, personally, think that Jordan might have had a bit more faith in his readership, but the Wheel of Time series is quite popular for a fantasy novel – especially for one that requires the investment of reading 14 books at over a thousand pages each – so he was obviously on to something.

Jordan’s writing leaves quite a bit to be desired. For one thing, it’s incredibly repetitive – a problem that I think is much more irritating in print than it is in audiobook. He seems to have chosen a default mannerism or catch phrase for each character and just gone to town (Nynaeve’s braid pulling and complaints about “wool-headed men” being the most frequently cited).

His plotting suffered a similar issue. The first novel was quite action-packed and had a lot going on, but the series slowed after that – getting worse and worse with each new novel, culminating finally in the dreck that is Crossroads of Twilight. It felt like Jordan would sit down at his desk and just free-write until he managed to figure out where he was going, then hit publish on the whole thing (except that, with Crossroads, he never actually managed to get anywhere).

This cleared right up with Sanderson’s books, though. Those actually moved, and really managed to reinvigorate my interest in the series.

Jordan seems to have had a lot of gender hangups. It’s clear that he tried very hard to include women, giving them lots of active roles to play, making them powerful and interesting, and giving them lots of important social positions (with the Women’s Circle as the true leaders of Emond’s Field, and the number of reigning queens). The problem is that he just couldn’t seem to figure out how that level of equality might translate into day-to-day interactions.

I do realize that some of that is due to the worldbuilding itself, and how the magic system is divided along gender lines. The problem with that explanation, however, is that the gendered magic wasn’t necessary. Without his assumptions about gender, Jordan could have come up with some different way to distinguish between magic classes. Or, at the very least, he could have avoided making wielding the female half of the One Power an act of submission and wielding the male half one of control. The dwelling upon female characters needing to learn proper submission, and glorying in submission within the context of their magic, was extremely awkward.

In fact, the gender relations in general tried my ability to stay with the series more than anything. Jordan constructed a world in which men and women seem to be in open conflict with each other at all times, believing the other group to be stupid, weak, and incapable.

And this came through most strongly when Jordan tried to write relationships. He did a fantastic job at writing female-female friendships, with those relationships being among the most complex, deep, and organic-seeming friendships I think I might have ever seen in fiction. His male-male friendships, however, were fairly absent from the series. The narrator told us that Mat, Perrin, and Rand were all friends, sure, but none of that was particularly evident in the series. They’d follow each other’s orders, or do favours for each other, but it just seems so superficial, and based on nothing more than that they all grew up in the Two Rivers and that the plot required them to work together.

But it was in the male-female romantic relationships that Jordan really struggled. Rand and his girlfriends fell in love with each other because the narrator tells us that they did. At no point did they ever actually seem to have chemistry, or anything deeper than simply an acknowledgement that they are fated to be together. This is largely due to the fact that they spend practically no time together, and have little more to fuel their relationship other than Min’s assurance that they will be in one (Rand and Min do spend a bit more time together, and their relationship is a bit more organic than the other two as a result). This could have been interesting – with all the plot surrounding fate, what it means for something to be fated and what role individual agency can have within that context, there was every opportunity to fate them to be together but perhaps have one resist, just as an example. But instead, the three women are told that they will love Rand, so they automatically do and Rand gets to have his little harem.

But things don’t get really bad until Perrin and Faile, in which the relationship seems to be based on mutual abuse, jealousy, and spanking. It was just sickening to see Faile – a strong and potentially very interesting character – only be happy in her relationship once she coaxes Perrin into yelling at her and hitting her. And for the narrator to let this play out as though it is simply a natural truth that strong women crave stronger men who can properly force them into submission. It was unnecessary and completely gross.

Given how well Jordan can write relationships (as evidenced by his female-female relationships), it’s hard to see this as anything other than an expression of his gender hangups.

My last complaint is with Mat, though this is less about Jordan and more about his fans. Mat was a nasty character, the butt of a joke. He’s a womanizer of the worst sort, who views women as objects to conquer, use, and then dispose of (at times, the descriptions of his “conquests” sound a little like they might be rape). He sees women as weak and inferior, and always in need of his rescue. He is a jealous friend, incapable of finding any kind of joy in seeing his so-called friends find happiness. He is an all-round, thoroughly nasty person. Which is fine. I’m okay with anti-heroes and dark heroes. The problem is that fans keep defending Mat, or laughing about all the “hilarious” situations he finds himself in (like, you know, getting raped and imprisoned as the sex slave of a queen). And that really worries me – that there are a whole lot of readers out there who can see Mat as comic relief, or even as a morally good character.

So those are my complaints, all the things that made it difficult to get through the series. I’m glad to say that most of them cleared up – all or in part – in Sanderson’s final three books. I haven’t read Sanderson’s own works, so I don’t know how he handles worldbuilding, but he’s certainly a much better writer than Jordan. Compared to the previous dozen, the last three books were an absolute joy to read.

In the positives column, I really enjoyed the worldbuilding, as well as several of the characters. The female characters, in particular, were really great to read – particularly in a genre that is so often male-dominated. I was extremely impressed by Jordan’s writing of the friendships between the female characters, and the way they interacted when the male characters weren’t around. I also really liked the amount of foreshadowing, and the way that something might be set up in an early book, yet the payoff wouldn’t come until the very end. It was just so much fun to keep having these “oh! So that’s what that was setting up!” moments of figuring out connections.

In the end, I wish that the same series with the same plots had been in the hands of a better writer from the start. But as is, while there were times when I seriously considered quitting, but I’m glad I stuck with it until the end. Also in its favour is the fact that the series is now finished, so new readers needn’t worry about the Game of Thrones Syndrome that is so often a risk with lengthy series.

Buy The Wheel of Time, Boxed Set I, Books 1-3: The Eye of the World, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #14: A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Read: 12 August, 2015

I started reading The Wheel of Time in June, 2014, after a friend’s recommendation. Since then, for just over a year of my life, I have had at least one book in the series (and its offshoots) on the go continuously. That’s a pretty hefty investment of my LCUs, and I had had a nagging worry that no pay off could be good enough to make all of that time feel worthwhile.

Now that I am done, I am pleased to say that Sanderson pulled it off.

I’m not much of a fan of action sequences. In fact, I often skim the climaxes of books simply because I’m just not interested in big boss fights. I say this because that’s what A Memory of Light was from start to finish, for over a thousand pages – one gigantic big boss fight (broken up only by a series of smaller boss fights), and yet I was actually interested the whole time. I was really impressed with Sanderson’s skill in keeping my eyes from glazing over.

The pay off was fantastic. After fifteen books and over a year, I’ve grown a fairly deep familiarity with the world, and I felt that Sanderson did a really good job of making that familiarity pay off. Not to mention the great feeling of seeing how events that have, in some cases, been foreshadowed for a dozen or more books actually play out.

My only reservation is with Rand’s great epiphany in his battle with the Dark One. I found it rather trite, and it would have been nice for the authors to come up with something a little more interesting. (SPOILERS: I’m also not quite sure how it works within the context of that world. Rand talks about a world without the Dark One as one in which people cannot choose evil – making it as repressive as a world in which the Dark One wins. And yet, throughout the series, we are exposed to people and groups who have had different, and conflicting, ideas of good, or who have made evil choices in the service of good that are explicitly said to be separate from the Dark One’s influence. The White Cloaks are an example of the former, and Shadar Logoth of the latter. So not only was the big epiphany rather overdone, it also didn’t really make sense within the context of Jordan’s worldbuilding. I found Rand’s “strength doesn’t mean you can’t feel” epiphany in an earlier book to be far more interesting.)

But that small-ish complaint aside, I really enjoyed A Memory of Light, and found it to be a fitting end to the series. Now I just have to figure out what I’m going to do with my life – and my encyclopedic knowledge of the The Wheel of Time – now that I don’t have Rand and the others to read about.

Buy A Memory of Light from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time Graphic Novel: The Eye Of The World, vols. 1-3, by Robert Jordan, adapted by Chuck Dixon, art by Chase Conley

Read: 3 August, 2015

I took all the Wheel of Time-related graphic novels out from the library and brought them along on vacation. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that The Eye of the World comes in six volumes, and only brought the three my library has. I got to the end of the third pretty certain that a good chunk was missing and, sure enough, I’m only halfway through. Still, I figured I’d better write a review, since I don’t know when I’ll be able to get my hands on the next three volumes.

I was quite surprised by how much of the first novel’s plot I could remember. The middle books, particularly around where it became obvious that Jordan had completely dropped the reigns of the plot, are a blur, but I had distinct memories of everything covered in the graphic novels. I’ve found the same thing with A Song of Ice and Fire – where the first book is also quite well plotted, with a much tighter storyline than later books. In both cases, I feel like the authors started off with a very clear idea of a beginning, and then much vaguer notes for the rest of the series. It’s a shame.

Regarding the graphic novels specifically, I found the text to be much better than what I saw in the New Spring graphic novel. It was much easier to follow what was going on, and I think I would have been able to read it even if I hadn’t read the book first. I’m not sure how much of that is a real difference in quality and how much is just because the plot of Eye of the World is so much more action-oriented, relying less on narrative (and therefore more easily exportable to a visual medium), though.

The artwork was a little disappointing, though. The images looked messy, for lack of a better word – like coloured sketches. This meant that it was often difficult to tell one character apart from another – particularly in the beginning. Some of that might have been intentional, to show how ordinary the three Ta’veren are at the start of the story, but I don’t feel like that came through very well.

There were also quite a few consistency issues, particularly with Moiraine’s forehead pendant (which changed shape and style frequently from panel to panel).

Generally, though, I thought it was fine. It was certainly readable. I’m just scratching me head over who the intended audience might be for these. There isn’t really a lot of added value for someone who has already read the novels, and I’m not sure how well someone who hasn’t read the novels would be able to follow along with the graphic novel version. It seems a bit superfluous. Or perhaps they are looking for people like me, who are at the end of the novels and want a refresher on the series without having to tackle the doorstopper tomes for a second time.

Buy The Eye of the World: The Graphic Novel, Volume One from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #13: Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Read: 23 May, 2015

Where The Gathering Storm mostly focused on Rand and Egwene, Towers of Midnight brings us back to Perrin and Mat. Sanderson has explained that, while Jordan had originally intended only one more book, Sanderson felt that the material really needed three. And the divide in focus between these two books shows that they had originally been planned to be one. We saw the same problem in George R.R. Martin’s A Feast For Crows and A Dance With Dragons. And, as in Martin’s books, I felt it gave the two books an uneven feel.

That’s certainly not to say that I didn’t enjoy it. Cruel as it may be to say, and sad as the precipitating event was, I find myself glad that Sanderson took over the series. I find that his version of the characters are more compelling, and are capable of a greater range of emotions. And while some of the very uncomfortable gender dynamics remain (I don’t think it would have been possible to eliminate them entirely, given the worldbuilding and characters Sanderson had to work with), they’ve been quite muted. The greatest change, though, is in the pacing. The books are just as long, but so much more exciting to read!

I have little to say about Towers of Midnight in particular, though. Things happen, the resolutions are all much as anticipated. In fact, I can only recall one moment in the book that bothered me. (SPOILERS: It was Noal’s death, which felt so meaningless. Mat tried so hard to come up with a phrasing that would protect his party from the Eelfin and Aelfin, yet left a gaping loophole. Noal was only put in the position of having to sacrifice himself because of this absurd mistake. Not only that, but we then learn that the time he bought the rest of the party was unneeded in the first place because Mat had the key to get out of Eelfinn/Aelfinn lands the whole time anyway! He was a somewhat interesting background character who just died, seemingly for no reason at all.)

Buy Towers of Midnight from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #12: The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Read: 28 April, 2015

Sunk cost fallacy is a nasty trick. After reading so many books in the Wheel of Time, there was no way to stop. I’d invested too much of my life in this series (I began nearly a year ago), so how could I stop now? Even so, Crossroads of Twilight severely tried my resolve. Knife of Dreams was back to form (great ideas, interesting characters, but all surrounded by so much slog) and gave me the push to continue, but I have been getting rather annoyed with the series for a few books now.

Which perfectly primed me for The Gathering Storm. This was a fantastic new addition to the series. Brandon Sanderson managed to revitalize the plot and get me excited about what was going on in a way that I just haven’t been in a while (and, honestly, other than a few peaks per book, haven’t been at all in this series). Best of all, he did it without allowing me to notice the change. The continuity between Jordan and Sanderson was impeccable, yet I suddenly found myself on the edge of my seat, fairly consistently from about 1/3 of the way into the book until its end. He did a great job of capitalizing on the character histories set up by Jordan to raise the stakes.

The book is focused almost exclusively on Rand and Egwene. Egwene has been one of the characters who’s kept my interested throughout, and it was great to see her reunification of the White Tower.

Rand, on the other hand, has been almost a sort of side character for most of the series. Here, however, Cadsuane’s warnings about his inability to laugh start to make a lot more sense as we spent more time in Rand’s head. His insistence that he feels nothing even while he does terrible things while overcome with anger felt very real and familiar (I’ve certainly known my fair share of young men who claim to be beings of pure rationality, far beyond the petty emotions of ordinary people – particularly women and minorities – even while it’s plainly obvious how completely they are deceiving themselves).

(SPOILERS: I’m not sure how I feel about Rand’s sudden epiphany at the end. After such a slow descent, the speed with which he appears to recover at the climax of the novel seems a little forced. It works as a climax, and it’s certainly interesting to see Rand defeating the Dark One in himself rather than an external threat, but I dislike epiphanies in general. I reserve judgement until the next book, however, since we won’t see until then how well or how easily it takes.)

I really enjoyed this addition to the series. As I said above, I was on the edge of my seat for most of it, which is no small feat when the conflicts were either internal (in Rand’s case) or rather complex (in Egwene’s). For the first time in a while, I’m really excited to begin the next one.

Buy The Gathering Storm from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #11: Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

Read: 6 April, 2015

This book has been a huge improvement over Crossroads of Twilight. Thank goodness, things have actually started happening again!

There have been a few improvement in other ways, too. Mat isn’t nearly as annoying now, perhaps because Tuon shuts him down quite quickly when he starts on something. Their “romance” is an interesting one – both are only attracted to each other because they have been told that it’s their fate. It’s good addition to all the destiny/cyclical time stuff we’ve been getting in this series, wherever it goes.

I’m not sure how I feel about the Faile/Perrin side quest. I think that having Faile’s insider view of the Shaido Aiel could have been much more interesting, and certainly the fracturing between Sevanna and the other Shaido wise women (perhaps wedged a little by Faile) could have been a really interesting direction. Instead, Faile is rendered utterly hopeless, despite her ability to amass a small army of followers, and her only real challenge seems to have been to balance keeping Rolan interested in her without getting raped until she could be saved by Perrin. On the whole, I found that a lot of pages were used up by their side quest without anything particularly interesting happening – despite the potential the situation created. All we got was yet another strong woman forced to learn humility, which is an irksome theme in this series.

Another plot line that’s getting rather short changed is Galad among the White Cloaks. I’m finding the power struggles and dark friend infiltrations among the White Cloaks intriguing, but we just get the odd scene here and there, and no real change to get to know the characters. The same goes for the fracturing of the Black Tower.

Elayne is pregnant and finally manages to take Andor. I think that her plotline in his book has bothered me more than any of the others. For one thing, there’s her pregnancy-induced mood swings. The effects of her pregnancy on the power (and visa versa) were interesting, but there was just such a big deal made of how unstable her emotions are now that she’s pregnant. It really just kept going on and on about how the servants are walking around on egg shells around her, and she’s forced to embrace the power to keep from randomly yelling at people. At least Jordan never blamed “being on the rag” for his female characters acting douchy, but this is honestly just as bad.

Then there’s how irresponsible she is. Going after dark friends with only a handful of followers on a moment’s notice when the city is under siege and counting on her leadership? I mean, really? Predictably, it all goes to hell and a whole lot of people die in her rescue – for which she says she feels no guilt whatsoever because that’s what they’re there for. Really. You’d think with all the angst thrown about in this series, a little could have been spared for Elayne.

Egwene’s plotline for this book seems to be all about learning to enjoy getting spanked, and boy does she get spanked. In fact, a lot of women get spanked in this book. I don’t know if I’m just noticing it more because someone mentioned the spanking recently, or if this book really does have a lot more spanking, but the female characters spend an awful lot of page-time getting their bottoms hit. Other than getting spanked, Egwene’s sole role for this book seems to be to discover just how broken the White Tower is.

As I was reading, it occurred to me that Portal Stones have been completely dropped from the series. I don’t think we’ve seen heard anything about them since Shadow Rising, even though they were being frequently noticed around the landscape prior to that. In fact, much seemed to be made of Rand’s ability to use them and then they just disappeared from the series, like Jordan was going somewhere with them and then changed his mind. Instead, the focus shifted over to Travelling (perhaps because it made it easier for characters to get around with Rand) and Tel’aran’rhiod.

This was Robert Jordan’s last book before he died, so it’ll be interesting to see how Brandon Sanderson’s work compares.

Buy Knife of Dreams from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #10: Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan

Read: 17 March, 2015

People have been telling me since book six that Jordan’s pace screeches to a near-halt after that point. It’s true, the series does move slowly, but I didn’t mind. Listening on audiobook, I’m free to let my mind wander when things drag on, and I was enjoying all the world building and the subtleties of the character arcs.

This book, however, is everything I’d been warned about. Much of the events overlap with what we read in Winter’s Heart, just from the perspective of different characters, and nothing is resolved. Perrin is still chasing after Faile, Mat is still escaping from the Seanchan, Elayne is still gathering support for her succession to the throne of Andor, and Egwene is still preparing to assault the tower. In all cases except the last, almost nothing in the character’s position changes between the first and final page (and in Egwene’s case, the change comes in the last few sentences of the last chapter).

This feels like a place holder book. We don’t even get a climax, which seems rather odd for Jordan.

This is by far the worst book in the series so far, even though it avoided many of details that have been grating me. It’s just poorly written, as though Jordan just forgot to plan it out before sitting down to write, and simply put his pen down after he reached a certain number of pages. It’s small comfort, but it seems that this book has the worst rating – meaning that things should hopefully pick up a bit in the next.

Buy Crossroads of Twilight from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #9: Winter’s Heart by Robert Jordan

Read: 3 March, 2015

Winter’s Heart is fairly standard fare for the series. Perrin and Faile’s relationship is still disturbing, though at least there’s a twist there. Unfortunately, it’s a twist that opens up far too many possibilities for mishandling – will Faile’s character grow by learning to properly submit? Will she be a damsel for Perrin to rescue? The twist has a lot of potential, but I’m a little afraid to hope.

Elayne’s return to Caemlyn and her struggle to secure the throne, by all rights, should be interesting. That sort of story is right up my alley. I also really like that Elayne is adamant that she must take the throne for herself, not be placed there by Rand, if she’s to be taken seriously (and she gets justifiably frustrated by all the Rand-initiated talk of him giving her the throne). Unfortunately, I felt like this whole sub-plot was taken over by Rand’s polygamy plot. We’ll see if it picks up in the next book.

Regarding Rand’s polygamy, I have to say that it’s refreshing to see a love triangle resolve itself in this way rather than the alternative. The agony of fiction love triangles is so done. It’s just unfortunate that Jordan chose to make it between one man and three women, rather than mixing it up a little. At least there are the green Ais Sedai… The polygamy becomes quite important in this book, as all four parties finally get to hash things out explicitly.

Mat is back, but not quite as bad as he’s been. He’s still pretty terrible, and his rape sub-plot is rather horrifying, but he’s kept too busy to spend much time being a complete douchecanoe. Don’t get me wrong, he still manages to fit a lot of his douchiness in, but it’s not as bad as it has been. Having clearly learned from his experience as a rape victim that rape is wrong, he learns the identity of his fated wife and the first thing he does is tie her up and kidnap her. Because he’s just that kind of character, apparently.

I’m liking the plot line about the Asha’man, and the fracturing, and the Forsaken infiltration. The problem is that I don’t really understand why Rand has paid so little attention to the Black Tower. He seemed to realize that the Black Tower was slipping out of his control, but rather than do anything about it, he basically just kept supporting Mazrim Taim until Taim became a full enemy – one with an army that Rand provided for him. I understand that Rand’s attempt to cleanse saidin has at least something to do with reducing the damage that the Black Tower can do, but this seems like too little too late.

Buy Winter’s Heart from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #8: The Path of Daggers by Robert Jordan

Read: 20 February, 2015

I enjoyed this book quite a bit better than I have the preceding few. In large part, I credit Mat’s complete absence (may he fall in a hole and never return). I also felt that the story was quite a bit tighter, mostly sticking with one group until their story was totally updated before moving on to the next, only hopping around at the very end, when it worked because the plot lines mostly came together. Finally, the book was also quite a bit shorter than the last few have been, without sacrificing much, if anything.

I’m finding the contrast between Egwene and Elaida as both character face very similar struggles as the Amyrlin of their respective towers to be very interesting, and a neat idea.

Perrin and Faile, on the other hand, are still horrible. At least now that Perrin has largely “tamed” Faile (*cringe*), they aren’t quite as explicitly abusive as they have been – with the exception of Elyas teaching Perrin to shout at Faile and Faile feeling so wonderfully giddy that Perrin has finally learned to be a douche.

Buy The Path of Daggers from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading

Wheel of Time #7: A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan

Read: 17 February, 2015

I was talking to a friend recently about the pacing of these stories. Like many, he felt that the pace has been progressively slowing down, becoming intolerable (or near enough) around Lord of Chaos. For my own part, I hadn’t really noticed. There’s no question that I can recall a lot more of the specific events from the first book, but I’ve actually enjoyed the pace. I’ve enjoyed plodding through, seeing what micro-adventures the various characters go on, and generally getting to explore this huge world along with them.

Because that’s the really great thing about a massive series like this – we get to see so many places and meet so many people that the world really does feel very large. And I’ve found the world building to be very compelling.

After some discussion, my friend and I concluded that listening to this series on audiobook makes all the difference. When I’m “reading,” I’m also doing the dishes, or the laundry, or playing Minecraft. I’m free to focus when it’s very interesting, and to drift off when nothing much is happening. Were I reading the books in the traditional sense, I think that my tolerance for the pace (and for the quality of the writing) would be much lower.

In this book, we’re seeing the various characters fall into their places – Rand continues his quest to be King Of Everything, Egwene settles in as the Amyrlin of the Little Tower, we see Mat leading his military band, and Elayne and Nynaeve have another side quest.

Unfortunately, only Egwene’s plot line really interested me in this book. Her struggle to take the Amyrlin seat in more than just name showed us a lot of her character, and I found it very well handled.

Rand’s plot line suffered from his emo-ness. He does some stuff, but mostly he just sits around acting like a jerk to everyone and praying that he hasn’t gone mad yet. I can understand that this is where his character is, and I know that we need to see his inner conflicts, but he’s just rather annoying.

Elayne and Nynaeve make some discoveries during their side quest, but their Stuff Happening To Page Number ratio is very poor. And while I normally enjoy their chapters (the petty fighting aside), they are much mired by Mat in his book.

Mat is where it really falls apart for me. He is unbelievable annoying. I see people talking about how “funny” he is, but how is it funny for him to just talk over women, bully women, demean women, humiliate women, harass women, infantilize women, and then, in the few breaks he takes from all that, spend his time complaining about how he just can’t understand why the women around him think that he’s a jerk? His narrative provides no new insight into the inner lives of people who think this way, it merely repeats the horribleness that women have to deal with so frequently, and it’s annoying as hell.

Worse yet, Mat gets raped by a woman in this book. The scenes leading up to the rape are terrifying, yet despite feeling humiliated and taken advantage of, the most Mat is able to consciously express about the experience is how awful it is that he wasn’t the one doing the “chasing.” There’s some indication that Jordan, at least, was aware of how Mat’s own behaviour toward women is reflected by his rape – as when Nynaeve makes a comment to the effect of how he’s getting a “taste of his own medicine” – but it’s all treated in such a light-hearted way, as though the reader is supposed to find his rape and subsequent harassment amusing. I found that whole plot line incredibly disturbing – not just for what happened and Mat’s reaction, but for the way the other characters react to it when they find out.

As with the last book, one of my greatest complaints so far about this series is that Jordan cannot write romance. He seems to view romantic relationships as some sort of battle for dominance in which the female party must learn proper submission and humility.

Buy A Crown of Swords from Amazon and support this blog! Continue reading