By Robert Jordan
I finished off book 8 of the Wheel of Time on Christmas Eve. With its completion, I am now only one volume away from reaching the point at which I put the series down, waiting until it was completed.
I’ve discovered and watched some BookTube recently. In it, I have seen mention of “the slog” in regards to books 8-10 of Wheel of Time. I have never heard of this before then. I have no idea when it was introduced, or where. But I do wonder how many people refer to it because it is the “thing” to say. One thing I have definitely noticed about BookTube is that there is a lot of same-ness.
When I was reading these books back in the 1990s and early 2000s, there was talk about the slow down and feeling that Jordan had gotten a little lost at book 5. This was the point where a lot of people would drop the series. But it was also discussed that if you got past it, it got better again in book 6 and then picked up again in book 7. I agreed then, and I agree now. Note that at the time I was having these conversations, it was a limited group as the internet either wasn’t yet available to us (when I was in high school), or was just getting established (during uni).
For me, book 8 was definitely not a slog. There was so much going on. This is the point at which there is now so much going on with each of the threads. Each time you move away from one it comes with a “no! I want to know what happens next”, only to be feeling the same by the time that next thread is left for yet another. Maybe people are referring to the fact that not a lot of time has passed from beginning to end – true, because the story is winding up, we’re getting towards the pointy end of the overall narrative, so a lot more is happening at the same time. But I want to know all of what is going on. Maybe it’s because the book doesn’t take a giant leap towards the climax – and that could be tied up with this initially being a 6, then 8, then 10, then 12 and finally 14 book series. But as the comments on “the slog” don’t seem to be from people who started reading the series back in the 90s, and therefore experienced the multiple extensions, I think this is less likely.
As this is book 8 in the series, it’s hard to write much about the book without including spoilers. So if you haven’t read this far in the series yet, don’t read any further.
The book starts before book 7 ends. We see the Bowl of Winds being used to correct the weather, and the narrow escape of Elayne et. al., together with the Kin and Atha’an Miere from Ebou Dar. Unfortunately, we don’t find out what happened to Matt after that explosion at the end of book 7. He is not in this book at all, though there is a mention of feeling like “he needs me” by the person he left in charge of the band. Savanah remains a toad and continues to be the cause of so much trouble – I can’t wait until she finally gets what is coming to her. Egwene finally steps out publicly as not allowing the Hall to rule through her, and Elayne finally arrives in Caemlyn to claim her throne. Rand… well all is not going so well with Rand. The fight to stop the Seanchan proceeding into Illian from Atara was largely well done – it was needed – but at what cost! And now he has “rogue” Asha’man trying to kill him. Though I’m still not convinced Taim isn’t building this as his own army and therefore at the root of that.
While on the topic of the Asha’man, did Logaine bond that Aes Sedai, like a warder bond? I look forward to seeing where that goes. And it’s good to see that the misguided party that Elaida sent didn’t get annihilated. And speaking of Elaida, we know now that she isn’t Black Aja (just a total power-hungry b*tch), but my suspicion that her keeper is (from a few books back) was confirmed. And in other news, it was finally confirmed which of the forsaken Halima is. We already learnt in book 7 how she wasn’t being found out, which narrowed the field, but I still wasn’t sure which one he/she was.
I’m looking forward to reading book 9, in January.
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