Thursday, June 21, 2012
The Readthrough of Time: The Fires of Heaven
The Readthrough of Time continues this week with The Fires of Heaven, the fourth volume in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. As with the previous books thus far, not a traditional review, blah blah yadda yadda.
So you'll recall how displeased I was with The Shadow Rising on a whole. The good news? The Fires of Heaven is significantly better on a whole than the previous volume, and is probably my favorite since The Great Hunt.
There are reasons for this. The book spends the lion's share of its time on Rand or the Aes Sedai, which is (at least for me) the core of the book. We get an idea as to Rand's leadership, we get character development a-plenty. With at least 670 hardcover pages, you'd hope so, I guess? The final third of the book was great, as well. Some great battles, some excellent moments with the characters we know - I can't complain in that regard.
The problem, though, is really the common theme throughout the Wheel of Time for me. While I didn't necessarily mind reading them (and it's worth noting that I probably would mind if I didn't have multiple motives to read this series), the first 400 pages or so were almost entirely expendable. Very little happened that couldn't have been condensed and placed elsewhere. The books feel like bulk for the sake of bulk, and it's just unfortunate.
I think back to other epics that I've read over the years. While Wheel of Time is better on a whole, I can think of only one book that was ultimately unnecessary in the Sword of Truth saga. It's not as if Jordan was getting serialized and paid by the word. I'm five books in, and I feel like there's only been enough raw content for maybe three books at this point - and I have six to go. And then the Sanderson ones.
It's pretty frustrating, as Jordan was clearly a talented writer and there's a good story in here. It's just tiring to see how utterly buried the good story is underneath the excess.