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Wow. I've got a lot to post today. Guess that's what I get for not blogging for four days.
LTUE was fun; much thanks to everyone who came to see me and who got their books signed. Over the weekend, we also got initial cover art for the new MISTBORN: THE FINAL EMPIRE paperback which is coming out in June. Click on it to get a much larger version. And, if that weren't enough, Mistborn 3 just went up on Amazon for pre-order! What a busy weekend.
Here are a few short responses to FIRES OF HEAVEN. This isn't very long, I'm afraid. I finished the book last week and am now much of the way through LORD OF CHAOS. The demands of the convention, however, kept me from being able to do a response to book five until now. (And forgive me if I spell any names wrong below. I wrote this rather quickly. I think I got them all right, but didn't have time to check them all.)
As I've said before, reading through the WHEEL OF TIME this time, now that I'm a writer, has been very interesting. It seems to me that this series—particularly staring with Books four and five—were always intended to be read straight through as one. Though there are climaxes in each book, I also get a sense that each ending isn't really the end and each beginning isn't really the beginning. (Which, of course, is part of the overarching theme of the series in the first place.) I like how the books blend together, each having their own theme, but each also feeling like a continuation of what came before.
Book five has a lot of very interesting events. I'm curious how Egwene's character is changing, in particular, and I find myself empathizing with her less and less—but find myself liking Nynaeve and Elayne (not to mention Aviendha) quite a bit more. Nynaeve, in particular, is growing quite quickly as a character as she realizes she can't use hatred of Moiraine as a motivation, and shifts more toward her desires to heal and protect. It is interesting to me that Perrin disappears in this book, much as Rand disappeared in Book Three. The series really begins to expand here, moving more and more toward an exploration of a wide variety of characters.
Reading and expecting this to happen, I find myself very interested in what is happening with the "side" characters. I use quotes because if there's one thing this series has taught me, it's that there aren't really side characters and main characters in this series. It's about everyone. True, the ta'veren form the focus for what is happening to the others, but Siuan and Morgase's stories are in many ways as important to the pattern as those of Egwene and Elayne. My second favorite storyline in this one, actually, was indeed Siuan's story. We've had a lot of tales in this series about common people becoming important. It's nice to see that reversed and look at the lives of important people who are suddenly forced to become common.
My favorite storyline in this book, however, is Mat's. He finally starts to shine. Almost against his will, it seems—which makes it all the more interesting. Those moments in the battle near the end where he keeps trying to escape, but ends up unable to abandon the soldiers were quite powerful and meaningful. I find it interesting—as many others have noted—that the final fight between Mat and Couladin happens off-screen. This seems an indication to me that Mr. Jordan felt that the affect of conflict upon the characters was more important than the conflict itself. Getting to sit with Mat as he works through in his head what had just happened proved for a very interesting scene, and allowed us flashbacks to the fight with Couladin itself. Obviously, this isn't a plot structure to use all of the time, but I felt that it was quite adeptly employed here.
I'm eagerly awaiting the moment when the Wise Ones discover that Egwene isn't a full Aes Sedai. She needs to be brought down a notch or two.
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