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The Wheel of Time, Box Set 3: Books 7-9 (A Crown of Swords / The Path of Daggers / Winter's Heart) Mass Market Paperback – Box set, August 29, 2002
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About the Author
Robert Jordan was born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina. He taught himself to read when he was four with the incidental aid of a twelve-years-older brother, and was tackling Mark Twain and Jules Verne by five. He is a graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, with a degree in physics. He served two tours in Vietnam with the U.S. Army; among his decorations are the Distinguished Flying Cross with bronze oak leaf cluster, the Bronze Star with "V" and bronze oak leaf cluster, and two Vietnamese Gallantry Crosses with palm. A history buff, he has also written dance and theater criticism and enjoyed the outdoor sports of hunting, fishing, and sailing, and the indoor sports of poker, chess, pool, and pipe collecting.
Robert Jordan began writing in 1977 and went on to write The Wheel of Time®, one of the most important and best selling series in the history of fantasy publishing with over 14 million copies sold in North America, and countless more sold abroad.
Robert Jordan died on September 16, 2007, after a courageous battle with the rare blood disease amyloidosis.
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The WOT as a series does have its quirks and weaknesses, but to my eye, those weaknesses are fairly consistent throughout the series as a whole, not unique to 7-9. People complain of the slow pace of later books, but the pace of WOT was always slow from the beginning -- I'm actually thankful Jordan didn't start rushing through things just to move the story along. I mean, frankly, the central, main plot is pretty stupid and stereotypical. It's the tremendous level of immersion and detail and all the time spent with the characters that make WOT special. It makes the cities, cultures, magic system, and people all feel believable and real. The later books deliver on that aspect of WoT at least as well – and arguably better – than the earliest volumes.
I do think it helps a lot to be able to binge-read the series now that it is complete. It was probably exasperating to wait 1-2 years between volumes. But that ain't a problem now! So settle in, and enjoy all the volumes of the Wheel of Time together. This is an epic and truly enjoyable fantasy story, with many very unique attributes, lovingly crafted by a very interesting man.
As for the content of books 7-9 specifically, some of my favorite things (minor spoilers ahead, but nothing major/central):
- Aviendha POV chapters! She's far from one of my favorite characters in and of herself, but we'd never had her POV before -- it is surprisingly well-done and kind of hilarious when Jordan gives it to us.
- On that note, the humor in general in 7-9 is great. Jordan's attempts at comic relief in the earliest volumes were middling at best, irritating at worst -- but by book 7 he's gotten the hang of it much more so. At this point he knows his characters well enough that he can really have some fun playing them off each other in interesting and clever ways.
- Ebou Dar. Plot-wise, Ebou Dar is a strangely lengthy and probably very unnecessary tangent, but I do like the content, and find it one of the most interesting cities we visit in the entire series.
- Black Tower and A'sha'man subplots -- I love almost everything having to do with this part of the story so far. I wish we got more of it than we do, but everything Jordan gives us here is pretty good. I love the false Dragon characters and the way they come back into the narrative later.
- A pretty major event makes for the conclusion of Winter's Heart, and it's one of the better WOT climaxes (not the best though -- that has to be Lord of Chaos). The logistics of it don't bear up to close scrutiny -- they almost never do, in WOT -- but it's reasonably exciting.
- Egwene's story gets interesting. Egwene is my least favorite major character besides Elayne, maybe, but her part of the story becomes quite strong in this arc.
- Lots of Mat. By book 7, Mat has become (in a bit of a reversal from early volumes) many readers' favorite character, and understandably so. Some of his best and longest-running sections are in books 7 and 9 (though he is, I believe, wholly absent from 8).
- Perrin and Masema -- it's admittedly a slow-moving subplot, but I like everything happening with it in books 7-9. I can't wait to see how it plays out in later volumes.
And in fairness, some of my least favorite things:
- Conclusion of Book 7 -- the book as a whole is lovely, but the big confrontation at the end is one of the clunkiest endings of any WOT book (and there have been a few). I sort of accept that endings aren't really Jordan's strong suit, but Book 7's was particularly lame. Maybe Jordan was up against a tight deadline or something.
- Rand becomes annoying. It's not necessarily a failing of the story, exactly -- it makes sense, in and of itself, that Rand would become less and less likable as the taint of saidin increasingly affects him – but, man. He just becomes so careless, scattershot, and unlikable during some sections of 7-9 that it's hard to take at times. In fairness, you can really start to see some of the broken, very non-heroic Lews Therin sketch we got in the prologue for Eye of the World.
- Elayne's return to Caemlyn. I had no problem whatsoever with the much-maligned Book 8, but this subplot becomes way too big a focus in 9-11. It’s simply not very interesting, and there was no shortage of interesting/significant things that could've been covered in its place. Still, it’s just one subplot – there are plenty of other good things going on to make up for it.
Overall, 7-9 is a much better arc than I'd been led to believe. Even book 10 isn’t as bad as they say, though it does have some particularly tedious stretches.
Great, great series -- don't miss it if you're a fantasy lover.