It’s tempting to compare the latest installment of the Wheel of Time series to Seinfeld, the show that professes to be about “nothing”. While doing so would be an exaggeration, it would be fair to say that COT could have done its job in many fewer pages and after much less wait. To be fair, RJ touched on virtually all major characters. To be honest, he didn’t give them anything interesting to do. For instance, more than 130 pages and 5 chapters are devoted to Elayne trying on dresses, taking hot baths, and fretting over her pregnancy (and other momentous events in Caemlyn). By the time RJ segued into the next character, I was left to wonder if what I had just read had to do with anything. Similarly, two chapters were devoted to Perrin buying grain and supplies for his army. Come on RJ, buying grain? After the cliff-hanger ending of Winter’s Heart, I eagerly looked forward to seeing what Rand would do next. Much to my chagrin, Rand was not mentioned until page 500-something. The few chapters concerning him were all too brief, and he did nothing that merited excitement . With such prodigal use of space, it’s no wonder that the pace is even more “glacial” than in previous books. If you think that the last four books were slow, wait till you read COT. By the end of the book, Mat was barely out of Ebou Dar, Perrin was no closer to rescuing Faile (maybe that’s a blessing in disguise because frankly I find her annoying), Egwene and the rebel Aes Sedai were still besieging Tar Valon, Rand was sitting on his hands again with Cadsuane shadowing him night and day, Elayne was doing whatever it was that she did in Caemlyn, and we were no closer to Tarmon Gai’don than we had ever been.
I’m well aware that this installment supposedly sets the background for the next and final 2 books. The title implies that momentous decisions made here would determine how future events would unfold. So the rebel Aes Sedai’s decision concerning the Black Tower, Perrin’s decision concerning the Seanchan, and Rand’s decision concerning the Seanchan would have serious repercussions. In fact, throughout the book were sprinkled abundant clues of plans already set or to be set in motion. However, it soon became apparent that RJ had no intention to reveal those plans in COT, except for a tantalizing hint in the epilogue. The epilogue! At best guess, readers will find out in the next installment, which would come out in, oh, 2006 or so. It’s amazing that in nearly 700 pages RJ could manage to reveal so little, or at least so little that would satisfy readers. Even RJ’s sly, tongue-in-cheek comments and remarks that used to amuse me so much were growing stale. And several times I got the nagging feeling that he was repeating himself. I used to think that when Tarmon Gai’don finally comes around it would be sad because the series would be over. I never thought that it would be … boring. To be honest, I’ve had more fun reading the theory posts and predictions on wotmania.com. Perhaps RJ should consider changing his oft-used comment, RAFO – Read And Find Out, to RAFA – Read And Fall Asleep.
Originally posted February 5, 2003 on Amazon.com