The Fires of Heaven is my overall favorite Wheel of Time book so far, though that could definitely change seeing as it’s only five out of fourteen. I think I have a better chance of reading all of Shakespeare’s works by the end of the year than I do of finishing this series soon. If I get WoT done by the end of 2017, I’ll be pretty satisfied.
Spoilers are below.
Rand al’Thor led his Aiel to fight the Shaido Aiel again, with Mat Cauthon using his newly acquired memories from the past to help Rand defeat them. Rand heard a rumor that Queen Morgase of Andor died and prepared to invade Caemlyn. Before this could happen, the forsaken Lanfear attacked him and tried to kill him, but Moiriane forced Lanfear through a ter’angreal. It was destroyed and the two women assumed dead, as Lan’s bonded connection with Moiraine disappeared.
Meanwhile, Nynaeve and Elayne had been traveling with a menagerie to hid their identities as they made their way to where the other Aes Sedai were hidden. Nynaeve entered the dreamland Tel’aran’rhoid and realized, through the trapped Moghedien, that Rand was battling the Forsaken Rahvin. She distracted him and Rand was able to destroy him using balefire.
There was no appearance of Perrin or any other Two Rivers characters. You’d think that would make it shorter, but it was still almost a thousand pages. Even though Perrin was my favorite of the three main characters, I thought this one read way faster than the previous book with him in it. Mat was much better as a character and I think that fact - along with Rand finally coming into his own - helped with the pacing. (I was disappointed to miss out on Mat’s fight against Couladin, though. Seriously, of all these pages, that was the one event shown off-screen!?)
All of the female characters in the book were complaining and worrying about Rand’s choices as a leader (minus like two old Aiel women) which was frustrating. They were all perfectly aware that Rand needed respect and more followers if he would ever be able to complete his destiny and save everyone. So when he finally stepped it up and began demanding loyalty and obedience, all the women following him had a problem with it? Or did they just need a new reason to sniff and disapprove of someone?
I liked Elayne learning how to create ter’angreal and I liked Nynaeve’s actions and powers at the very end, but the interactions between those two were just the worst. Maybe they were secretly in love with each other considering all the fights they picked. I mean, Nynaeve and Lan only had about 200 speaking lines with each other in thousands of pages. I wasn't convinced those two belonged together at all; maybe Elayne was the one for her. (I'm kidding. Jordan would never write that in.)
The ending was probably the Wheel of Time moment that induced the most emotions for me. I’ve enjoyed the fantasy of the series and the deep world building, but my strongest personal reactions have mostly been irritation at the repetition and Nynaeve. Moiraine sacrificing herself to defeat Lanfear even after Rand had stopped listening to her advice was touching. It was nice to finally have a positive emotional reaction - aka THE FEELS - to an event. Moiraine's always been my favorite character in this series and this only solidified that.
For the record, I totally do not believe Moiraine died. No way. I fully expect her to come back in a book or two having learned some important trick or fact that will help Rand defeat the Dark One.
This one was a 4 out of 5. Jordan moved the plot along enough to make me overlook some major annoyances from the previous book, which motivated me to keep going with the series. As I mentioned in my review of The Shadow Rising, I only recommend this book for hardcore fantasy fans.