James's Reviews > Lord of Chaos

Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
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's review
Jun 28, 2010

it was amazing

Supposedly, Robert Jordan once thought he could finish the Wheel of Time in six books. That number has since more than doubled, and book 6 may have felt late in the series at the time, but the idea is a bit laughable now. Of course, in much the same way books 4 and 5 feel like a single book split in half, book 6 is the first half of the story culminating in the next book. (Which kind of makes it the first half of book 5. Does that make book 12 the fifth sixth of book "6" then, according to RJ's prediction?)

What book 6 does feel like is a solid middle of the series. The plotlines that began to appear in book 5 solidify here. Perrin re-appears, both Mat and the weather subplot are moved toward their ends, and the Aes Sedai plotline truly comes into focus. Rand of course has his own story, which really steals the show in this book. His climax always felt like a large part of the book in my mind, despite being only two (albeit long) chapters. This book is jam-packed with events and foreshadowing, and even Elayne doesn't manage to really make me angry. Well, maybe a bit.

My noble quest to review each book without any real spoilers may soon be at an end, since it's difficult to talk about much of anything that way, but I'll try for at least one more book. Despite the extra plotlines, Lord of Chaos condenses most of its narrative to following two main storylines: Rand, and the Aes Sedai. Each has plot occurring in two different places, but it is nonetheless relatively easy to keep track of. There aren't too many obscure side characters in this book, though most of them are divided between three distinct groups of Aes Sedai, so good luck remembering who's who before the book reminds you.

One reason Lord of Chaos manages to keep moving is that Rand's enemies, especially the Forsaken, have a significant amount of on-screen time. Several new players for the Dark One appear and begin to work against the forces of Light, including the first gholam. If there's one aspect of book 6's story that has always frustrated me, it's that the bad guys win or at least gain in many of the (figurative) skirmishes fought in the book. But hey, that keeps up the tension, right?

In the end, though, we get to see our favorite characters kick a ton of ass (often at the expense of lesser characters we don't really like), Rand is shoved much further down his own dark path, and everyone's favorite female character, Min, has a lot of screen time. And most significantly of all, Lord of Chaos marks the first appearance of the Asha'man, one of the final major groups to be introduced. This is a book where everything, including the tone, changes. It may not have helped subsequent books, based on their relative popularity, but it certainly makes Lord of Chaos a good read.
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