Saturday, August 16, 2014

Epic Fantasy Review: The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time, #5)The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book is forever taking...but I still love it.

The Fires of Heaven (Wheel of Time #5) continues the story of the build up to the end of the world. The two major story lines in this installment are Rand's pursuit of the rogue Aiel that are following Couladin and Nynaeve's ongoing conflict with Moghedian. Of course, the number of characters featured in these two divergent tales is quite overwhelming, so I won't go into details here.

So here's what I like most about this story. First off, Matt becomes awesome in this book (against his will, but awesome nonetheless). I've always loved Matt's character in these books, and this is the tipping point for him. I also enjoy Nynaeve's trials and her feud with Moghedian. She's always been so overconfident, having become Wisdom of her village at a very young age, but certain events in this story really seem to put her in her place, paving the way for her to perhaps become a better, more likable person. This is a very important book for both Matt and Nynaeve.

Now, down to what I don't like. First off, ugh, I don't like the chase after the rogue Aiel. The images it brings to mind, what they find in the towns the Aiel have passed through, are horrific. That's part of it. Another part of it is the growing arrogance of Rand. Sure, he's found himself in a leadership position he didn't want, and he's a target for the Chosen and the Dark One's other minions, but still, that's no excuse for abandoning your core values. There are glimmers of his former goodness coming through, but his dubious sanity and growing mistrust and tendency to use those closest to him are deplorable. I recognize that it is necessary for his development to descend into darkness, but that doesn't mean I have to like the trip.

Finally, this book took me forever to get through this time around. Some of it is slow going, on top of the book being massive. The first half was such, and I almost considered dropping the book and jumping to the last in the series (I've read this one almost a dozen times, so I could have gotten away with it). The second half of the book was much more interesting and fast-paced, mostly due to the growing intrigue, the battles, and of course Matt's and Nynaeve's shining moments. That makes me feel better about my decision to stick it out.

I'm ready and excited to jump into book 6, but the ultimate goal is to finally make it to the last book in the series, which my husband assures me is one hundred percent worth slogging through all the books leading up to it. So, I will continue.

As for my recommendations, I definitely do recommend this series as a whole, though this isn't one of my favorite installments. I would say if you've gotten this far and have enjoyed the story up to this point, keep going. It will keep you busy for a while, but it's the journey that's the value in a work this massive. Keep in mind that The Wheel of Time is effectively one enormous novel. It's meant to be read in order and in its entirety, and that's what I recommend doing. Fans of epic fantasy, political intrigue, battles, and good vs. evil might like this series. Of course, if you had trouble getting into the first few books, I doubt that you'll fare much better with this one.

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