This one was much easier to be interested in reading than the last. It still had it’s lagging moments, but I didn’t fall asleep once. Yay. I was especially excited that they didn’t drag out using that stupid bowl that they finally found in the last book. Overall the pacing was more even and I wasn’t left hanging wondering what people were up to as much. Well, besides Mat not being around at all and everyone just wondering what happened to him as a passing thought. Reading about how cold the weather is instead of how hot and dry was a welcome change as well. I was worried that even after they used the bowl, since the change wasn’t immediate then it would take a whole book for it to rain, but it worked out just the way it logically should. The quickest autumn ever followed by the extreme depths of winter.

This time around Rand is slightly less obnoxious to me, which I think is attributed to his somewhat imaginary friend returning to his mind. Getting his ass handed to him by… himself… also helped. Plus chapters from his point of view were interspersed with Min and the Seanchan. I find the Seanchan pretty fascinating even though I suppose they’re bad. The first book they were in had such awesomely written scenes of them in it that it left a permanent good impression on me. Perrin also comes back with his mission to reign in the crazy prophet Masema and his band of murderous fanatics. He runs into the former Queen of Andor in disguise and the awesome Faile takes her and her party  in as a servants. The whole situation is pretty funny to me, I wonder how many books it’ll take for them to figure out who she is. Probably a while considering what happened at the end of the book.

For the most part the chapters about Nynaeve and Elayne after they used the bowl bored me. The really really really long trip to Caemlyn drove me a little nuts. I suppose having such a diverse group of people traveling at each others throats was supposed to build suspense for the inevitable, but I ended up being glad that something finally happened. I really enjoyed the scene with Elaine in the throne room; again all I could think was ‘finally’. Egwene and the group of rebel Aes Sedai had a lot of good moments. Though I had a hard time keeping all of the Aes Sedai and their various alliances separate. All the political stuff was necessary but hard for me to follow, so it bored me a bit. Overall they made a lot of progress instead of just sitting around in the woods, and Egwene managed to gain at least tenuous control over her people.

All of the parts about what the Tower Aes Sedai are up to were hilarious to me. I feel sort of bad for Elaida; in fact their whole situation seems to hopeless. The expedition to take the Black Tower was one of my favorite parts of the book. They could all really use better spies, or learn to believe the unbelievable in the mixed up world they’re obviously in. It seems the Aes Sedai still in the tower are too in denial about important things. Even though they’re obviously clueless about a lot I’m still not so sure Egwene’s plan is going to go so well. Cadsuane is one of my favorite characters now, she’s such a badass with her sewing projects. I’m happy that she’s going to start playing a larger role; the scene where she all but gave Rand a spanking was amazing.

The ending was, well, explosive. I liked that it wasn’t a super cliffhanger but left me more interested in reading the next book. There are things I’m still wondering about of course, but there was just the right amount of resolution and change in this book. I’m actually excited for the next one for once.