To this point in the Wheel of Time series, I’ve primarily been a fan of Perrin Aybarra, enjoying the books in which he has a larger role and generally finding the books that don’t feature him to be ultimately forgettable. A CROWN OF SWORDS doesn’t include much Perrin at all, as the two major plots focus on Elayne, Nynaeve and Mat searching for the Bowl of Winds and Rand preparing for and ultimately attacking Sammael. Somehow, even though I haven’t been a fan of the Bowl of Winds plotline and Rand’s plotting makes his storyline slow until the book’s final 75 pages or so, I enjoyed this chapter in the saga. I feel like I’ve analyzed the hell out of The Wheel of Time by this point, so here are just some random thoughts at this point in the series:
- Of Rand’s three women, to this point I like Min the best. That relationship seems the least complicated, and Min seems the only one who actually likes Rand as he is.
- I’ve complained at length previously about the way Nynaeve and Elayne treat Mat, and in this book Jordan appears to have taken some steps to try to correct it. Of course, he counters that progress by the inexplicable Tylin-Mat storyline, which is wildly uncomfortable because Mat was basically raped and most of the characters in the book think it’s funny. I can just imagine how well that one would go over if Mat was a girl.
- Sometimes it seems like whenever Jordan gets bored, he decides to add another group of women who, unbeknownst to the Aes Sedai, can also channel. First it was the Wise Women, then the Sea Folk, now the Kin. It has become one of Jordan’s go-to moves, right up there with the Seanchan attacking to fill in slow parts of the story or, even more commonly, one of the Ta’veren wishing he knew as much about women as the other two.
- Mat is growing on me once again. When I picked the series up again, I’d remembered liking Mat, so I was shocked to discover that I actively disliked him through the first handful of books. But since he’s taken a leadership role, I’ve found him a lot more humorous and his storyline far more interesting. His ascendance in this book helped to make up for how little we saw Perrin.
- I think the search for the Bowl of Winds is where people really start turning on this series for stalling. They know the bowl is in the city, they know what part of the city and they know what the building looks like. Nonetheless, the search takes more than an 800-page book. It wasn’t a deal-breaker for me, but I can see why some people got frustrated. I’m at a point where I’ve only read two books past this, and I don’t remember much about them. Hopefully the story’s pace will pick up a bit.