By Robert Jordan
Winter’s Heart is book 9 of the Wheel of Time and the last book I read before deciding to wait until the series was complete to read the rest. Because of this, I hadn’t read this book since the year it came out. So I had absolutely no memory of any events in the book, unlike all of the volumes up to this point where I had differing amounts of memory (lessening with later books, with less rereads), and it was like reading it for the first time all over again.
I thoroughly enjoyed this volume. A lot is going on and some key questions are starting to be answered. You can definitely see the start of the build up towards the conclusion. And it is this build up and those answers that helped the four star rating. Being book 9 in a series, pretty much all of my thoughts are spoilers, so will be in the spoiler section below.
We start of the book with seeing what happened after Faile was kidnapped and her being used by a pawn, pulled in three different directions. Yeah, this has the potential to go badly. I was trying to remember if Galina is Black Ajah, or just one of the toxic Reds. Meanwhile, the Berelain storyline with Perrin is getting even more annoying – I wasn’t sure that was possible, so I was glad when we moved on to other characters.
Elayne is settling into being the daughter heir again. Oddly, despite Brigitte pretty much catching on the “coincidence” of the mercenary being outside her rooms just at the right time to foil an assassination attempt, none of them seem to realise that it was a set up. At first I thought that Elayne chose to make him the captain of her bodyguard because she knew he was shady and wanted to use him, maybe feeding him false information. But yeah, no. Otherwise there’s no way that she would be playing into the rumours that he might have seduced her and be the father of her child.
When we got the scene of the gathering Forsaken, I knew that Osan’gar was one of the Ashaman, but I thought we might have finally gotten the answer of who Taim was. Later on, we find out that no, he is Dashiva. And I love that his successfully passing himself off as “just” a rogue Ashaman is what ended up in his downfall at the hands of a Black Ajah. So we still don’t know who Taim is. Moridin? Maybe I’m completely off base in thinking that there is more going on with him than just a power hungry guy who still wishes he were the Dragon. And the way that Lew Therin goes psycho every time he is around.
We finally got to see Matt again, and what happened to him after the Seanchan landed in Ebou Dar. I still didn’t like the storyline with Tylin, and everyone both enabling that and finding it so amusing. As soon as Matt started his plans to help the two Aes Sedai damane escape, I knew that it was going to end up in his marrying the Daughter of Nine Moons somehow. But I didn’t see the way it would come out – a fascinating take on self-fulfilling prophecies. Tuon seems happy to be both claimed as his wife and his statement that she is going with him. This must have something to do with the omens that have had her veiled since her ship docked, and I look forward to finding out more about that in later books.
We finally find out what Cadsuane is to help Rand with, but it seems a bit odd based on her manner with him to date. Should we chalk this up to the general difficultly Jordan had with female characters?
And Cyndane… her opinion that Rand has betrayed her by linking with Nynaeve. This started a whole new set of questions for me. Key among it being is she connected with Lews Therrin, and this is the root of that? Of course, we might already have been told the answer, but I forgot it given my pause of 2 years half way through book 6 of this reread.
But despite all the big things the happened, many of which I haven’t touched on above, the cleansing of Saidin overshadows them all. I can’t wait to see what impact that has going forward.