Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan

The 6th book of Robert Jordan’s immense Wheel of Time series; Lord of Chaos, made me question the wisdom of what I had decided to do in reading or rereading the entire cycle from start to finish in preparation for the release of the long awaited final volume.

Lord of Chaos is one of the biggest books in the cycle, only being topped by The Shadow Rising (book 4) in terms of length.

As with a number of other books in the Wheel of Time it could have been shortened by at least half it’s 987 pages and not suffered as a result of the pruning. It may have been considerably improved. Right from The Eye of the World (the first book in the series) Jordan has tended to write overblown description, but with book 4 he started to take the world building to ridiculous lengths, mostly concerning long, tedious passages to do with the culture, history and beliefs of his favourite; the Aiel. I’m sure there are some people that find it interesting, I’m not one of them. By Lord of Chaos he had started to repeat information that had already been covered over and over.

For the first two thirds of it’s 900+ pages Lord of Chaos meanders along and jumps from character to character: Rand, Egwene, Mat, Nynaeve and Elayne, without anyone actually doing anything or getting anywhere. They do move, albeit at a snail’s pace, physically, but the story goes nowhere.

In the last 3rd things happen and the story actually breaks out of the blocks and advances. Perrin returns for one.

I still don’t understand Rand’s attraction to women, neither does he, mind you. His regular conversations with Lews Therin at the back of his mind are tedious. Yes, I get it, he has the mind of an ancient hero in his head. I understand now. You can stop hammering that in every second paragraph. Despite my dislike of Rand, one of the least interesting heroes I can remember reading about, I didn’t like what was done to him in this book. He was captured by a group of ‘rogue’ Aes Sedai, kept in a box and taken out twice a day to be tortured. It was the torture that bothered me. It’s not particularly gruesome or gory, it’s just unnecessary. The women don’t seem to do it for any other purpose than they can. It just doesn’t make sense. We know this particular group of Aes Sedai are unpleasant, it didn’t need to be reinforced like this.

Egwene being made Amyrlin Seat was a nice touch. The politics of the Aes Sedai are always so much more interesting than that of the Forsaken, Rand and the various ruling factions. It’s rather obvious that Egwene was raised to the position because they felt she’d be controllable. Interesting that they’re considered so smart, yet they selected the one person who was the least likely to become a puppet and raised her to a position of great power. Egwene and Nynaeve got sent off to Ebou Dar on their own request to seek an item of power that they’d managed to uncover. I saw this with trepidation, while I know this mission has some interesting events attached to it in future books, it was also from memory host to some of the later books most boring passages.

I liked seeing Mat finally adopt the war orphan Olver and not realise why he was doing it. Olver, despite his ugliness, is like a junior Mat. He provides the book with some of it’s funnier and more touching moments. It was also pleasant to see Mat asserting himself with Nynaeve, Elayne and Egwene and refusing to let any of them push him around anymore. Nynaeve is the one that realises Mat is no longer the mischievous little boy she was forever having to discipline, but is a large and slightly dangerous fully grown man and not someone she can bully anymore.  

Although I know book 7 doesn’t pick up the pace, in fact I think it slows down even more, I’m bound and determined and will soldier on next month.       


  1. I couldn't get over the fact they have to search for a bowl that controls the weather. I thought the reason the weather was going crazy was because the dark one was just defeat the dark one! No need for tangents. :) I'm on book 7 as well and need to pick back up already.

  2. He certainly made some odd decisions at times. I guess he had to get the girls to Ebou Dar and the bowl was the convenient device.