Lord of Chaos – Maybe my favorite book so far, though 3 and 4 were really good as well. The best part of this is Rand and the constant muttering of Lews Therin in his head. The many Aes Sedai courting Rand in this book really set him off and matters are further exacerbated by the creation of the Black Tower as Lews Therin seems to hate channelers of either sex.
Speaking of male channelers, Mazrim Taim makes every scene he is in better. It is so much more interesting to have a channeler ostensibly loyal to you that just emanates danger than the arrogant chittering of every Aes Sedai in the book. Jordan thinks he is writing strong female characters yet Taim alone is more menacing than the entire White Tower.
Anyways the Black Tower in immensely cool. None of the nonsensical rules or weird indoctrination that goes on at the White Tower. The Black Tower makes you a threat and it does it quickly. It is all the better when the males surprise the uppity female channelers with magic that they knew, just knew, was impossible.
The other plot here involves Matt and the rebel Aes Sedai. Matt has turned into my favorite character after a very rickety start and is the only legitimately funny character in the books. One of the better scenes involves Matt barging in on the newly annointed Amyrlin Egwene. Obviously incredulous and ignorant, he blusters on managing to convince the women of his stupidity and amaze them with his knowledge all in one go. The fact that his medallion protects him from their reprisals and thus annoys them to no end is equally entertaining.
We also see signs that Nynaeve is starting to evolve beyond her stubbornness and pomposity. The girls finally thank Matt for saving them at the end of book 3 and then are indignant when Matt takes it with insouciance. Nynaeve’s progression will continue in future books and turns one of the most annoying characters into someone you can almost like.
No review of this book would be complete without mentioning the final sequence with Rand kidnapped and held in a box by White Tower Aes Sedai. Rand had been having things go his way for too long so it was nice to see someone else catch him in one of their plots. This also brings us to the best magic battle scene in the series yet. It’s a little chilling when the Asha’man (male channelers) just obliterate the Aiel with casual ease. It is clear that Rand has brought a new, deadlier form of battle to the land it hadn’t seen since the Age of Legends. This is one thing that may have been better off forgotten.
A Crown of Swords – At this point the series starts to take a tumble in quality. Things start to slow down with neither Rand or his enemies really doing much. This book gets a pass mostly because it has a lot of Matt in it and his interactions with Elayne and Nynaeve are Jordan at his best with the characters he created.
Matt and the Bowl of Winds proceeds along well, it is Rand that kind of makes this book a bit ridiculous. He goes and derps around with the rebels, almost getting killed in the process. After being healed from near death he decides this is the time to attack Sammael. This attack did not seem to require all the planning and positioning of armies he engaged in for the last two books. It was just teleport some Asha’man to disrupt his defenses and take him out.
The worst part is how the fight with Sammael ends. They go to Shadar Logoth and Rand is about to kill Sammael when some woman who got lost in the ruins of the city appears and he accidentally kills her and in that moment the evil in the city, Mashedar, descends and kill Sammael. What a terrible way to kill of a Forsaken. Also how did that chick survive in the ruins for so long anyhow? Completely ridiculous and once again we see that all the scheming of the Forsaken seems utterly pointless.
The Path of Daggers – Easily the worst book in the series so far. The first crime is no Matt, which is especially annoying because we last left him getting crushed under rubble. The second is that nothing happens. Jordan spends like a 100 pages walking Elayne and Nynaeve to a spot to use the Bowl of Winds and most of that is Elayne dealing with her obnoxious traveling companions.
You will notice I haven’t talked about Perrin. That is because he hasn’t done anything of import since book 3. I am on book ten and he is still sitting around Ghealdan doing nothing. I feel like Jordan doesn’t like him as much, which is ok because I don’t like him much either, but stop interjecting passages with Perrin that barely advance his plot. Ruining the flow of more interesting plot lines to do nothing is terribly irritating.
The only redeeming quality was when Rand takes it to the Seanchan. I like watching the Seanchan in disarray at the new magical tactics Rand is employing. Also the scene where Rand is using Callandor and rages at the Seanchan is very thrilling and then the next moment you learn he is killing his own men. Good stuff even if Jordan doesn’t give us any good battle scenes.