This article contains spoilers for the entire series.
So, you have finished the great story that is Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time. Of course, there are neither beginnings, nor endings, to the turning (reading) of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending.
It is now the next turning of the Wheel and the time has come for a reread. While you re-read you can clearly remember some of parts in the books, which… were really difficult to get through the previous time around. I can’t be the only one, right? I think we all have those parts, just as we all have parts we can reread time and time again.
While the books as a whole are great, (almost) everyone agrees that while the earlier books are filled with world-building and character development, there is slump somewhere in the middle of the series. It makes sense that we will prefer reading some books over others.
I have my own ranking of the WoT books, based both on my personal opinions and what I found online. Mostly my ratings are based on how much I enjoyed the book as a whole, but I also took into account that some books contain important story development that I think make them worthy of a higher ranking. While all books have some important events, a few trump the other for sheer EPICNESS!
All right, all right, let’s get to the ranking shall we?
DISCLAIMER: While some books will necessarily be at the bottom of my ranking, I want to say that I love all the books and do not skip any scenes or *gasp* whole books while I reread.
This is one of everyone’s least favorite books; almost all of the rankings I have seen online have this book on last or second to last place. So why is that?
As you may remember, the previous book, Winter’s Heart, ended with a VERY important event: the cleansing of saidin. After reading that ending everyone was looking forward to finding out what happens next. Instead what we get in Crossroads of Twilight is the story of what everyone else was doing while Rand and Nyneave were busy cleansing saidin. This book does not provide us with the satisfaction we were craving.
Another thing that put many readers off was the focus on Perrin chasing after Shaido to save Faile. I realize this book moves Perrin’s storyline a little bit with this, but I think none of the happenings while he is hunting the Shaido are important to the main arc.
Even so, it is safe to say that the book ended with a unexpected twist: Egwene is betrayed and captured by the White Tower Aes Sedai. This a step forward in Egwene’s story for sure, but it isn’t epics enough to save this book from the bottom ranking.
Another popular opinion is that Path of Daggers should be somewhere at the bottom of the ranking, either last or second to last. I understand this. While we finally get to experience the Bowl of the Winds’ power, which was hinted at in previous books, there isn’t much more happening here.
Perrin gets a lot of attention in this book. He adds Morgase (even though he doesn’t know it) and Alliandre added to his party. Shortly thereafter Faile is captured by the Shaido and the whole LONG storyline of saving her starts.
Rand goes to fight against Seanchan and we get to can experience his madness up close. Am I alone in saying it made me uncomfortable reading that whole battle? Not alone? Great.
What drives the story forward in this book is Egwene and her declaration of war on Elaida. I think the way Egwene managed to convinces the Hall to do this is brilliant, and it clearly demonstrates how much she’s grown.
You might be surprised (or maybe not, given some of the online rankings) to see Great Hunt on my list at number 13.
My reason for putting it here is … well … the plain truth is that I don’t enjoy reading it. There is something about Rand traveling with Loial and Hurin through the Portal Stone world that makes me uncomfortable. Those three plus Selene are such a weird combination of characters to me. Their “adventures” make for such an uninteresting series of events that I just don’t want to read it. (Some people may like this part – I am not judging. Hopefully you don’t judge back.)
To top it off, Rand beats a sword master in his first serious sword fight. I mean … what? By this time we know he is the Dragon Reborn and that he will play a very significant role in the series, but to me this scene seems a bit overdone.
What IS interesting in this book is that we learn about the Seanchan and we get to hear the Horn of Valere being sounded. Very cool. And, we find out how important our Two Rivers boys actually are.
Quite a few people put The Fires of Heaven book at the very bottom of their lists but I rank it a bit higher. I think the reason people don’t like The Fires of Heaven is because it isn’t as good as the previous book, The Shadow Rising (which is ranked higher – we’ll get to that later).
For those of you who like battles, this book is probably way higher in your ranking because of the battle of Cairhien. For me it is just a slow paced explanation of Rahvin’s manipulation of Morgase.
Another reason I put this low on my list is because of Moiraine’s (perceived) death. I loved all the books up to this point in part because she was in them, and after this book I missed her so much!
One epic moment in this book is when Nynaeve captures Moghedien with an a’dam. Finally some justice, am I right?!
I think Winter’s Heart has won some fans’ hearts (hehe) because of the cleansing of saidin at the end. No one can deny that this is one of the major plot points in the Wheel of Time; it is what drives the series forward from this point. I don’t know about any of you, but the cleansing came as a complete surprise to me when I read it for the first time. I didn’t think that Rand was planning something so big and I don’t believe it is ever mentioned or hinted in the previous books.
We find meet the Daughter of the Nine Moons and so does Mat. And the Tower Aes Sedai are making some interesting findings about the Black Ajah within the Tower. But all in all that’s about it for Winter’s Heart, isn’t it? Not much happening except for at the end. Many stop reading the series at this point because it has been so slow for the past two books that their desire to find out what happens next disappears.
Part 2, the middle ranked books, coming soon!