- See the full list of books in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series.
Winter's Heart: Book Nine of 'The Wheel of Time' Mass Market Paperback – Jan 7 2002
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Is Robert Jordan still doing the Light's work? Even loyal fans have to wonder. (And if you're not a fan yet, you'll have to read the previous 6,789 pages in this bestselling series to understand what all the fuss is about.)
Everyone's in agreement on the Wheel of Time's first four or five volumes: They're topnotch, where-have-you-been-all-my-life epic fantasy, the best in anybody's memory at the time since The Lord of the Rings. But a funny thing happened on the way to Tarmon Gai'don, and many of those raves have become rants or (worse) yawns. Jordan long ago proved himself a master at world-building, with fascinating characters, a positively delicious backstory, and enough plot and politics to choke a Trolloc, but that same strength has become a liability. How do you criticize what he's doing now? You want more momentum and direction in the central plot line, but it's the secondary stories that have made the world so rich. And as in the last couple of books, (A Crown of Swords and The Path of Daggers), Jordan doesn't really succeed at pursuing either adequately, leaving a lot of heavily invested readers frustrated.
Winter's Heart at least shows some improvement, but it's still not The Eye of the World. Elayne's still waiting to take the crown of Andor; the noticeably absent Egwene is still waiting to go after the White Tower; Perrin gets ready to pursue the Shaido but then disappears for the rest of the book. About the only excitement comes with the long-awaited return of Mat Cauthon and a thankfully rock 'em, sock 'em finale in which Rand finally, finally changes the balance of power in his fight against the Dark One. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The ninth installment in Jordan's sprawling Wheel of Time saga is as bountifully pregnant with plot threads as its predecessorsDand as bewilderingly esoteric for readers who have yet to commit its previous episodes to memory. Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, seems no nearer to fulfilling his destinyDto unite the embattled races of his domain against the Dark OneDthan he was in The Path of Daggers. The warmongering Seanchan are pouring into Ebou Dar, setting refugees in flight and complex schemes in fidgety motion. Perrin Aybara is distracted from his mission to shepherd the prophet Masema to Rand when he pursues the rebel Aiel who have kidnaped his wife, Faile. The mystical sisterhood of the Aes Sedai remain divided between Elaida, pretender to the title of the White Tower, and Egwene al'Vere, ally to Elayne, Queen of Andor. Elayne, Rand's lover, barely escapes poisoning, and Rand himself, still smarting from the unhealed wound of an assassination attempt, shapeshifts through a variety of disguises to pass unnoticed in hostile territories. Jordan can always be counted to ground his dizzying intrigues in solid chunks of cultural detail, and he here rises to the occasion, with chapters as dense as Spenserian stanzas with symbols and rituals. Not all of his subplots tie together, and fewer than usual of his vast cast of characters make a memorable impact. Nevertheless, he manipulates the disorder of his narrative to credibly convey a sense of an embattled world on the verge of self-destruction, and he entertainingly juxtaposes the courtly civility of his villains with the precarious chaos they cause. Devotees accustomed to this ongoing epic's increasing lack of focus will no doubt find it on target. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, Robert Jordan's series the Wheel of Time has become an overdrawn and rather mundane collection of books, detailing a group of characters that have ceased to be interesting a few books ago. A long story this may be, but somewhere along the way, the potential for readers to feel that each book and each book matters has faded.
A funny thing happened last year. 'Winter's Heart' came out. I bought it in hardcover, and proceeded to read through it over a period of three months. I was surprised to realize that after five years of being a fan of the series, I just didn't care anymore. Maybe it was the plodding sense of the last few entries into the series, but between the hordes of minor characters, annoying descriptions of every dress every women wears, and the frequent absences of one or more major characters in certain books, I began to wonder why everything seemed so trite.
My review for this book is rather low. I am puzzled as to how other readers can defend Robert Jordan's choice to draw the series out by saying that the series demands patience and maturity. In my opinion, a key benchmark of a good writer is to express themselves in a way that is both entertaining and meaningful to those that read their books. The Wheel of Time has become an unpleasant pass time for me and I empathize with those readers that feel cheated after years of buying these books.
Let's get things straight here. Something very important does happen in this book. But by the time you get to it, there is no attention given to this achievement. Instead, you must sufffer through almost 700+ pages of the usual repetitive descriptions and childish characterizations. A number of inconsistencies can pop up (which is par for the course in WoT these days). For one, if there is a city that is enclosed in a stedding, how is it possible to use the Power at all? Oh, Jordan doesn't really care about that. He circumvents that by introduces yet another new ter'angreal that makes it very convenient for our heroes to succeed in landing themselves in another hackneed scenario. And his characters? He doesn't care about that either, apparently. Cadsuane seems written into the story for the express purpose of knowing everything and having a number of advantages to move the plot along. As for Perrin and Faile? Oh, she was kidnapped in the last book, and while she is gone, he is still worrying about Berelaine.
These characters don't have priorities. It is as simple as that. Forsaken escape, and Egwene doesn't care. After all, she is still consolidating her power. Nynaeve is almost killed by another Forsaken. She doesn't care. She is worried about looking good in front of Lan. Rand is surrounded by enemies? His friends don't care. As they remind us again and again, he is always getting into trouble somehow or another.
At this point, I miss the simplicity the quest had when it was Egwene, Nynaeve, Mat, Perrin, Rand, Lan and Moiraine. Between the shabbily written court intrigue and half-baked machinations of the enemies, the series has become a continuos soap opera that more resembles a romance novel in fantasy clothing than a Tolkien-level work of strong writing. Robert Jordan, to put it bluntly, just doesn't care about turning out quality work, having compromised that for quantity of pages and characters. And it shows.
This books deserves no stars, though as a reader and a writer, I wish another writer would take the reins after book three and redo the series.
I read 'Eye of the World' in three days. I read 'Winter's Heart' in three months- and that included the parts I skipped because I just didn't care what the minor characters had to say.
Personally, I think Robert Jordan figured out after about book four that people were still buying his books, and so he decided to drag them out as long as possible in order to stretch his fame and fortune.
Between a myriad of annoying, minor characters, page after page of the main enemies thinking about how much they hated each other and the protagonists, endless descriptions of the women's clothes, and constant reminders of how the world of Tel'aran'rhiod works, the story got put into the background.
It's a shame, really. Jordan started out strong, but he seems to have forgotten where he was going.
The Wheel of Time is a well-done fantasy written with the complexities of Tolkien yet combined with a more contemporary, character-driven writing style. Since this is the ninth book in a series which will continue for several more books, I'm not going to give a lot of plot synopsis since new readers have no reason to begin reading these books at this point. If you attempt it, good luck... complicated, ain't it?
OK, positives about "Winter's Heart"
1. My favorite of the original cast of characters, Mat Cauthon, returns after a hiatus. I don't think he appeared at all in "The Path of Daggers". In any case, Mat is one of the most unique of Jordan's male characters and his mischievous nature makes for a fun time reading, regardless of the situation he's in. The chapters focusing on him are great.
2. A MAJOR plotline gets resolved. I'm not going to say which, but resolving this particular plotline points to an actual ending in sight (!) to the Wheel of Time saga. Of course Jordan weaves several other plotlines into the mix, and for the most part does a great job. It seems to me that Jordan has given all the background information necessary on the assorted nations, characters, and cultures within the plots of The Wheel of Time, and that this series is getting ready for the home stretch. I'm still interested to see how it all ends.
3. Jordan's writing style is very fluid and he makes it easy to sit back and spend an hour or two reading his books. I plowed through "Winter's Heart", reading 200 pages at a time which is unusual for me. I can always kill an evening being drawn into this series, and I'm happy to say this book held my attention in a stranglehold.
I do have some complaints though...
1. Too many characters! There are 50-60+ major characters in this series, and Jordan has a nasty habit of introducing, by name, each and every new face we come across. He tends to give long-winded descriptions of innkeepers, guards, merchants, assorted servants, and anyone and everyone who shows up for no more than a page or two. I'm having a hard enough time with the volume of major players, let alone being introduced to SO MANY new characters. 25% of the cast could be killed off and the plot wouldn't suffer one bit.
2. Too complicated! Now, let me say that I DO enjoy an intricate plot, and I like to read stories with a complicated plot. But there comes a time where it gets to be too much, particularly when dealing with Jordan's diarrhea of the word processor. He's capable of weaving so many plots that major characters like Mat can be cast aside for a book and a half (nearly 1500 pages). In the meantime I found myself forgetting a LOT of the characters and their motivations. Several times reading this novel I got lost. I read about a book a week, and with stories this complicated I have a hard time getting back into the swing of it after 2 years without a new W.O.T. story. I'm going to read book 10 and 11 consecutively after they are released, since re-reading the previous books in the series doesn't fit into my schedule. Streamline some of these plots, please.
3. Here's where I take some heat. Be ready to click that "not helpful" button. Jordan has been praised, rightly, for his thoughtful and well-presented female characters, and he takes it a step further by having a great deal of matriarchal societies within the Wheel of Time books. I think his female characters breathe with a life of their own, something quite different from the norm. Some characters' actions and reactions have gotten monotonous, but overall they grow very well in Jordan's hands. These days, it seems to me that EVERY description of hierarchy, ceremony, societal interaction, and everyday conversations MUST involve the fact that in Jordan's world, women run the show. Early in W.O.T., one of the charms was that the balance of power between men and women was spelled out in such a way as to amuse and entertain the reader, and Jordan's gifts in wryly bringing out the political and personal interactions between equally powerful men and women were masterful. Now, throw it all out the window because the women are "wearing the pants" in every society in this world. That sly balance Jordan used to employ has swung the other way entirely... this is quite a change from the original books, and I can't help but wonder if Jordan is playing to his female readership demographic. Cynical or not, I suspect this is what's happened.
"Winter's Heart" is better than "The Path of Daggers" and finds this series on the upswing again. I'm rating it 3 ½ stars, but am rounding UP because of the wrapping up of important plotlines and the return of Mat. A good continuation of this series, I recommend you start at the beginning though.
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3 or 4 books in this series, the plot just barely moves ahead.Read more
It's ok if he earns some bucks, but writing books for gaining money is not a cleaver move.Read more