I rarely write reviews, but this book requires a statement to clarify my 3 stars. I LOVED the writing of this book. Martin does an AMAZING job with the prose, and it is by far the best written fantasy book I have ever read. The characters are deep, the sotryline complex and the twists unexpected. I also loved the narrator, he was outstanding. Which made is doubly frustrating that they went away form him in later books.
BUT (and its a big but), I just could not enjoy the book. I am not a fan of dirty realistic fantasy generally, and of this kind in particular. There is not one character in the book who is heroic, not one to root for or get behind. Dont get me wrong. I dont want bubblegum sword and sorcery. I love heros with flaws. I love seeing character overcome (or not) those flaws. That is what makes a character heroic (or tragic). But the flaws in Martins characters are so overwhelmingly powerful as to detract from their good points and the rest of the story.
The Starks, who are in theory the protagonists, exhibit such moronic behavior (some of which is done just to further plot in my mind) that it simply makes me unable to feel anything for them. Similar issues arise with the other factions.
Martin wanted a fantasy series which reflected the post modern ideal, where there is no good and evil. The problem is that by doing so in such a convincing realistic way that this is no longer really a fantasy series in my mind. It is simple political drama with sword instead of guns. You could have just as easily set this in Africa or Asia in the 21st century.
If you can get past or enjoy the kind of grit Martin is writing, you will LOVE this book. If you can accept that they replaced the narrator (look at the reviews for book 4) you will love the series.
first, I loved the book. The story was well done the characters felt as flushed out as usual. Much of the action is very well done. The character development is stunted and feels rushed at the same time.
Sanderson has done a great job finishing the series under some difficult conditions. It is those conditions which are the problem. First, this needed at least 2 more books to finish. Yes Jordan's style was often long winded and drawn out, and yes I was driven as nuts as anyone by books 7-10, but Sanderosn is being forced to cut a bunch of stuff short. It is really evident in the Tower of Genji. Instead of being a major climax of the book it is more like a 'meh' moment. There are other chunks of the book which could have been been chapters and were reduced to a couple paragraphs. Again, length issues.
Another issue is the fact that the timline between the different parts of the book are confusing at first. Perrin's timeline does not catch up to the rest of the book until the end. And instead of front loading the book with Perrin to catch up the flush it out over the entire book, which is frustrating. The timeline trickery was due to having to split the book into three parts. If it had been one book like Jordan had intended then it would have flowed MUCH better. But they needed a climax to the last book so the Rand healing was pushed in front of Perrin. I can only hope after it is all completed Sanderson will give us the chapters in the order they were intended. Then we can rip up all 3 books and put them together in the right order.
I gave this a 4 because I really feel Sanderson did a great job in a tough spot. My hat's off to his work. If the book company had not done a hatchett job and allowed the story to progress as needed
Last thoguhts, the fight between Egwene and the Black with Perrin/Luc was VERY well done. I only wish the Tower had been as well done. I only wish the Tower was as well done.
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