So…I started reading this book in January…2019. I made it around 100 pages in, but it felt like a struggle and I just couldn’t find that compulsion to keep reading. With 700 pages left to go, I simply gave up.
But I hate leaving books half finished, so I finally came back to it again two weeks ago (and 2 years after starting). It turns out that the point I gave up the book was just on the cusp of it getting really exciting. I’d plodded through a lot of the initial setup and given up just before it got going.
The book starts in the village of Emonds Field, and we meet our main character Rand. We spend quite a lot of time in the village meeting our band of supporting characters, and it seems like we may never leave…
But then Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, Nynaeve, Moraine and Lan have to leave Emonds field in a hurry, they need to get to Tar Valon. Moraine is very cryptic about why the three boys are so necessary to defeating the darkness, just that they are in ‘the pattern’, and part of what the wheel weaves.
Once the band were on their way, I got very tolkien-esque vibes from the book – a group of people all setting out to defeat evil on a long and winding quest. I didn’t mind that so much though, I love LOTR and it didn’t feel like a copy to me, just a similar style.
My favourite part of the book (I don’t know if this is mean or not) was when the characters all became separated. I felt like the pace of the book increased and because we were splitting perspective between the different groups, we got to know each of the characters more in depth and it really helped to build a connection.
I also loved how (unlike a lot of epic fantasy books), the women weren’t just supporting characters. They had a lot of the power and ruling and that felt a bit unusual to me, although the tides are definitely turning in more recent fantasy books.
I don’t want to talk about the plot too much because it would be too easy to give away major spoilers (I’ve probably already said too much), but what I will say is that I found the ending of the book fairly anti-climactic. It felt like the peril was building up and up and up and then I realised there weren’t many pages left in the book so I assumed it must spill over into the next one, but no.
The final scenes all felt a bit rushed to me after such a build up and that was a bit disappointing, but it did finish in such a way that I really want to read the next book in the series now – I’m just hoping the pace of the second book picks up now that the world-building has been established and we’re familiar with the characters.