I need a break from this series. A long break. This one took a lot out of me, guys.
Having taken control of Andor, Rand continues his political maneuvering to prepare for the Last Battle. But his control begins to slip. Nobles try to manipulate him and betray him. The divided Aes Sedai try to put a collar on him. All the while, the Forsaken continue to work to further the Dark One’s aims, as well as their own. To top it all off, Rand’s madness is only getting worse. Has Rand finally bitten off more than he can chew?
I loved the first half of this book! Rand struggling with the various nobles and all of his new power is compelling. Watching Mat step up as a military general is cool! We even get some creepy stuff with the various villains, including a brand-new character that frightens even the Forsaken!
We also meet my new favorite Wheel of Time character: Mazrim Taim. This dude has so much presence in every scene he shows up in! He feels larger than life yet completely grounded, like a walking statue. He stands at the head of the Black Tower, which is easily the most interesting plotline in the entire book. I loved every appearance this dude made!
The ending of this book is also really solid. Dumai’s Wells is one of the best battles in the series, and the buildup to it is pretty solid. Rand being trapped in the box is one of the darkest and most compelling issues he’s ever had to deal with! My only real problem with it is the lack of tension in the buildup; it’s hard to feel tense when Perrin and Loial are sitting with their pipes and talking romance.
Speaking of which: Perrin is back! Sure, he only comes back in the last act of the book. And his plotline is yet another ‘Perrin’s girlfriend is mad at him’ plot, which is far from interesting. Still, it is nice to see him again after his absence from ‘The Fires of Heaven’.
There’s plenty of stuff I liked in this book. But as it goes on, the problems gradually become harder to ignore.
Egwene is my biggest problem. I desperately wanted to skip her plotline every time she showed up. Her relationship with Gowan is god awful, easily the worst romance in the Wheel of Time, featuring horrendous attempts at Shakespearean dialogue that is genuinely as bad as the Anakin-Padme romance from Star Wars. Her being rushed into becoming the Amerlin was initially infuriating, although it did become more palatable later on when it was revealed that she was more of a figurehead than an actual power, which could be interesting in the books to come. Even with that, I could hardly stand any scene from her perspective.
My second biggest issue is with the pacing. The plots in this book feel like they’re just hanging around, not going anywhere. The White Tower divided plot is caught in a stand-still. Rand’s struggles with the nobles doesn’t go anywhere, at least not in this book. A large part of the book is spent building up to the battle against Samael, but we get cucked by a sudden left turn that delays that event! It isn’t until near the very end that things start to happen! And even then, the only plot that gets a proper resolution is with the Aes Sedai ambassadors!
Overall, I found ‘Lord of Chaos’ to be one of the weaker Wheel of Time books. It had some pretty strong moments, but it was far from my favorite. By the end, I felt more exhausted than compelled.
You know what really scares me? After the next book, we’re getting to the infamous ‘slump’ of the series. Which is supposedly even more slow and tedious than the rest of the series up until now.
God, I’m not even halfway through this series yet…