A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A quick read, compared to some of the others in the series. I think it's still in the realm of the middle books where folks tend to lose interest in the series and stop reading, but I had no such trouble. Much of the action in this book occurs in Cairhien and Ebou Dar, following the divergent paths of Rand, Min, Nynaeve, Elayne and Avienda.
As always, my favorite character is Matt, mostly because he's the wild card. I also like that he finds himself both the victim and master of chance. It works out in interesting ways. Fate is fickle when Matt's around, and the swings are often surprising. My second favorite character in this book is Nynaeve. She is a complex woman, both mature and petty, strong and vulnerable, and I always enjoy getting glimpses into her head and watching her through the eyes of her closest companions. This book provides an important stepping stone in her growth and development.
The bad guys are also cool, and a new one seems to have entered the mix. A bad guy worse than the Forsaken. It makes for a good story, but then again, another character? It's one of the infuriating things about the Wheel of Time books. More characters than you can absorb and remember in one reading.
Rand on the other hand is less likeable in this one. He's uber mistrustful, arrogant, and careless. Just not all that nice of a guy, which is a shame because he started off as my favorite in the early books and the overarching plot hinges on him. Still, he's not completely lost. There are glimmers, but they are being buried by his growing madness, and it isn't pretty while that's going down.
Overall, I love the series and this book ranks high for me. Not as high as The Eye of the World (#1 and always my favorite), but good. I recommend this book to fans of epic fantasy, but I caution, as always, that if you didn't like the first few books in the series, you probably won't find this one any more likable. People tend to gather in the extremes for these books, and having read them over and over again, I fall into the pile of those who love it.
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