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burko

Most underrated book in the WOT series?

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I have only ever read the WOT series through LOC (book 6), and am currently embarking on a reread now that the whole series is done.  Currently I'm as far as mid-Shadow Rising.  

 

In googling around to get a sense of people's reactions to the completed whole, I've noticed a definite trend:  Books 1-6 (which I've read) are considered the best, Books 7-10 are considered pretty awful, and Books 11-14 are considered somewhat of a return to form, but with more mixed reviews than 1-6.  

 

Anyway, my question to this community is:  Is there anyone who feels the books 7-10 (ACOS through COT) are unfairly dumped on?; -- or a particular book in that run, that you feel is underrated?  I have seen threads ranking the best-to-worst of WOT, but I'm curious about WOT volumes that fans specifically feel aren't given enough credit.

 

Nobody seems to like COT, for example -- the best reviews of it I've found of that one pretty much just say "it's not THAT bad".  The others from 7-10 don't usually fare much better, though occasionally WH or ACOS seem to get at least a little bit of love.  I feel a little disappointed that the portion of the series I've already read is reportedly way better than the rest of it; I wonder if, my expectations not being very high now, I might end up liking ACOS onwards better than most do.  But opinion on the matter seems so universal I fear it's a hope likely to be dashed when I get to those volumes.   

 

As my current reread is only up to mid-Shadow Rising, I'm hoping there won't be many spoilers or specific plot details if people choose to respond; but, whether from the 7-10 arc or otherwise, is there a volume of WOT that you love, that doesn't seem to be generally liked that well?  

Thanks.

 

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Edited by burko

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I think TPoD is pretty underrated. It holds some of the best writing in the entire series (Damona Campaign, LTT v. Rand dialog, "Cup of Sleep" etc.)

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Personally, I find it hard to remember specifically what happens in what book, outside of the first 2 or 3 and maybe the last 1 or 2. I honestly take it as a series, and through all of my rereads I take the slow or "boring" parts as bridges that are necessary to cross to get to and understand the next part of the series.

TL;DR I like the series as a whole, and don't like to pick on specific books.

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Yea, I agree with the above statement regarding TPoD too.

 

It's the ONLY book that really has...........***SPOILERS***

 

 

Perrin and Faile working together as a team(mostly ;) ) to accomplish important goals since tSR. Maybe even more so. I wish the series had a lot more of this between them. :(  The ToM seems to bring that spirit back, somewhat.

 

 

 

Books (3) through (9) and (11) through (13) I really have no serious issues with. I am re-reading the B&N versions now, so I will see if that holds up.

Edited by Cosmic Champion

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It's been a while since I've been through the entire series as I'm only mid tSR myself on this current re-read. I seem to remember enjoying book 9 Winters Heart more than a lot of people did.

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furthest I read has been Towers of Midnight.

currently on my third time through the series; am at Crown of Swords.

 

I have liked each book in this series.

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For me the "boring bits" are often those passages which help forge your relationships with the characters.  The issue I always had was if it began to make me dislike a character.  With Matt I could read them all day as I liked the character.  Egwene POV's though made me want to scream!! (Thats an issue for a different thread though!)

 

I think it really depends on how often your favourite characters appear in each book which then dictates the readers view in terms enjoyment.

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Winter's Heart is my favorite of books 7-10. I always felt that Path of Daggers and WH felt like one book, and the payoff at the end of WH was totally worth it to me. I've also heard from various people that books 7-10 don't seem so bad on a re-read now that the series is complete and they don't have to wait years in between books. CoT was the one I stuggled the most with, personally, but I found KoD to be a great improvement.

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I guess I would have to say that TPoD is the most underrated book in the series.  I does drag for the first 300 or so pages but it you can get past there it actually picks up quite a bit.  It certainly is not the best book in the series but its still a good read.  Books 7 and 9 do get more love than the others in the 7-10 stent and with good reason.  I have absolutely no problem with ACOS.  I think it is a solid book and belongs in the same category as books 1-6.  I think the problem with ACOS is just that the climax at Dumi's Wells is a hard act to follow.  Also for me book seven was the point where the series itself began to seem extraordinary long.  At the end of LOC when Rand made the AS kneel and had his own army of channelers I really thought the end was nigh.  However, by the end of book seven it was apparent that there was still much more story to tell.  Honestly upon finishing LOC I really thought that book seven or eight would be the final volume, but after reading book seven it was apparent that this would not be the case.

 

I feel much the same way about Winters Heart.  Not quite as good as ACOS but still a solid book.  It does happen to fall between the two weakest books in the series and therefore I think it tends to get lumped in with them

 

Unfortunately I really cannot defend COT it is truly subpar, and is essentially 700+ pages of nothing happening.  Even RJ admited that COT was not up to snuff

 

So to recap I would say that TPoD is the most underrated in the series.  It has  so slow parts, but the good parts are really good.

 

ACOS is easily the best of the books in the 7-10 slump but I would not call it the most underrated as people do tend to give the most love of these four books, so it is at least recognized and being a cut above the other three.  I will say that IMHO it should be lumped in with books 1-6.

 

Winter's Heart is subpar when compared to books 1-7 but not so much as the fanbase would have you believe.  I mean if you give books 1-6 an A then WH would get a B+. It a little below the standard but not devastatingly so.

 

COT gets low ratings but it is not underrated because those low ratings are very much deserved.  COT could have been condensed and included in the prologue to KOD.

Edited by Leopoled Boothe

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Random COT happening: Marks the only occasion whence it's detailed that the character Mat wears a hat, other than his trademark chapeau.

...Hence, Mat's Spare Hat.

BOOooooommmmmuh huh..huh *sputtered coughing

Er...go light?

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For me the "boring bits" are often those passages which help forge your relationships with the characters.  The issue I always had was if it began to make me dislike a character.  With Matt I could read them all day as I liked the character.  Egwene POV's though made me want to scream!! (Thats an issue for a different thread though!)

 

I think it really depends on how often your favourite characters appear in each book which then dictates the readers view in terms enjoyment.

 

I didn't like Nynaeve and Elayne through the entire series because of the POV's. They whined and bickered and it was never in an interesting or amusing way.

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Most underrated would be CoT, in my opinion. PoD deserves all the hate it gets, but I actually liked Mat and Tuon's part in CoT a lot. Everyone just complains about that book because Rand is barely in it, it seems. (But the main thing I complain about with PoD is that Mat is barely in it, so people complaining about CoT shouldn't bother me.)

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Great responses, thanks.  I had wondered, for example, if Jordan's writing improves in any way in the latter books -- you'd think he would get better/more mature in at least some respects, even if the late books are on the slow side.  He gets a lot of flack for overwrought/tedious level of detail, but I usually don't mind much as long as it's effectively immersing me in the scene.  Sometimes in the early books his descriptions are slightly incoherent. 

 

In my reread so far, Eye of the World is about as I remember -- decent intro/prologue to the series, but kind of a rushed, muddled ending.  Like Jordan felt like he had to bring everything together in a pseudo-conclusive way, but it was out of step with the pacing of the overall story, and we didn't get to know the villains at all.  It was all a bit goofy.  

 

Great Hunt holds up pretty good -- it was one of my favorites as a kid.  It has the most satisfying climax of the first three, the Seanchan and the damane are great.  

 

The Dragon Reborn disappointed me as a kid, but I liked it better on the reread -- in many ways I think the bulk of DR is better than the first two books, and it's definitely the book where Mat starts to shine as a character.  He was pretty intolerable until we start getting his POV in this book.  I didn't see the lack of Rand as a problem this time, that was fine with me, and I actually loved the subplot in the White Tower with the Black Ajah.  What did compromise DR for me quite a bit though, was the ending -- again, much like Eye of the World, the climax felt forced, rushed, kind of incoherent ... and I started to ask myself, how many times is Rand going to "defeat" the Dark One at the end, but not-really-defeat him?  Was getting silly.  From what I recall books 4 onward focus more on the Forsaken which I think is probably for the best.  And Perrin's sudden passion for Faile felt a bit ... unearned and out-of-character.  And while I forget them now I feel like DR had a *lot* of loose ends and plot holes.  

 

Shadow Rising is pretty solid so far, still working through it.  It's great because it's been long enough that I don't remember much detail of what happens in each book.  I do remember the epic battle at the end of SR which I know is quite good, and I remembered Rand spending a good chunk of time in the Aiel Waste -- but beyond that, most the details almost feel like I'm reading it for the first time.  

 

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Great responses, thanks.  I had wondered, for example, if Jordan's writing improves in any way in the latter books -- you'd think he would get better/more mature in at least some respects, even if the late books are on the slow side.  He gets a lot of flack for overwrought/tedious level of detail, but I usually don't mind much as long as it's effectively immersing me in the scene.  Sometimes in the early books his descriptions are slightly incoherent. 

 

In my reread so far, Eye of the World is about as I remember -- decent intro/prologue to the series, but kind of a rushed, muddled ending.  Like Jordan felt like he had to bring everything together in a pseudo-conclusive way, but it was out of step with the pacing of the overall story, and we didn't get to know the villains at all.  It was all a bit goofy.  

 

I know exactly what you mean and I had the same feeling. It went from 0 to 100 because things progressed so slowly throughout the book in terms of Rand's powers manifesting with just a little trickle here or there and then at the end all of the sudden he's destroying trolloc armies, teleporting and fighting the Devil and whatnot. And it was confusing for me because one the one hand the kid went from Ewok to Darth Vader in two seconds flat and on the other hand it wasn't clear to me how much this was Rand and how much it was the Power doing what it will and he was just along for the ride. 

 

Great Hunt holds up pretty good -- it was one of my favorites as a kid.  It has the most satisfying climax of the first three, the Seanchan and the damane are great.  

 

The Dragon Reborn disappointed me as a kid, but I liked it better on the reread -- in many ways I think the bulk of DR is better than the first two books, and it's definitely the book where Mat starts to shine as a character.  He was pretty intolerable until we start getting his POV in this book.  I didn't see the lack of Rand as a problem this time, that was fine with me, and I actually loved the subplot in the White Tower with the Black Ajah.  What did compromise DR for me quite a bit though, was the ending -- again, much like Eye of the World, the climax felt forced, rushed, kind of incoherent ... and I started to ask myself, how many times is Rand going to "defeat" the Dark One at the end, but not-really-defeat him?  Was getting silly.  From what I recall books 4 onward focus more on the Forsaken which I think is probably for the best.  And Perrin's sudden passion for Faile felt a bit ... unearned and out-of-character.  And while I forget them now I feel like DR had a *lot* of loose ends and plot holes.  

 

Again I concur, but I would've liked to get in Rand's head more throughout the book because when he picked up Callandor at the end that was like a defining moment. He finally accepted his role in the whole thing and for someone that was knee deep in denial for the first two books, I would've liked to understand his thought process during that transition but I got the feeling he spent most of the book being paranoid. Getting the courage to finally pick up Callandor was a big deal, I would've liked to know how he talked himself into it. "I gotta do this, I gotta do this" is just not a very interesting rationale for me.

 

Shadow Rising is pretty solid so far, still working through it.  It's great because it's been long enough that I don't remember much detail of what happens in each book.  I do remember the epic battle at the end of SR which I know is quite good, and I remembered Rand spending a good chunk of time in the Aiel Waste -- but beyond that, most the details almost feel like I'm reading it for the first time.  

 

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Edited by PopCultureDiva

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I can understand that. For me, I think this time through I mostly felt as though he came to full acceptance of being Dragon at the end of The Great Hunt. TDR was certainly the book where he processes what that acceptance really *means*, and it is a curious authorial choice that we get to see so little of it. But I think it works at least in the sense of pacing: we at least feel Rand has had a very reasonable chunk of time offscreen during TDR to change from the out-of-his-depth Farmboy who is still very much evident even late in TGH, into the much colder, more calculating, "let's do this thing" Dragon we have in TSR. And I think the tone of paranoia you mention, for me, helps me imagine that the encroaching madness of Saidin and the push of previous lives (Lews Therin) has as much to do with the changes to his character as Rand's own thought processes and rationalizations do.

 

I'm finishing up TFOH today, just a few chapters remaining, and continue enjoying my reread immensely. The reread definitely makes it feel more like one big story and makes it harder to choose favorites among individual volumes. I forgot how much I got to like Nynaeve by the end of TSR, and her initial battle with Moghedian remains one of my favorite One Power battles. I also had completely forgotten that Rand scoops up Asmodean as personal bard and teacher, and for some reason, that particular relationship amuses me to no end, especially the way Asmodean continually irritates Rand with his slightly-too-clever choices of background music. It's a funny and weird and vaguely tense dynamic that I wish we got to see a little more of.

 

TFOH has been great, the only parts that dragged for me a touch were the Siuan POV chapters (and the related Gareth Bryne chapters). As a character and in terms of what happened to her she is very interesting, but I don't actually enjoy her POV much. I'm not really sure why. And Rand's journey from Waste to Cairhein was a tad meh, but overall it seems just about as good TSR, which was probably the best of the bunch so far.

 

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Edited by burko

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I always thought that winters heart was really underrated. That was my favorite book until I read the gathering storm. It is a lot of Rand and Mat and all things going on in this book make it awesome! Plus, the ending. Gotta love that.

Edited by Nandar Riatin

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If I had to pick a favorite book from 7-10 it would definitely be Winter's Heart, which is mostly due to its ending. It also answers some questions that people had been waiting for a long time like what did Rand al’Thor learn from the Aelfinn, and who is the Daughter of the Nine Moons?

 

Books 1 - 6 are generally speaking the best chunk from the series.

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Books 1-6 are awesome! other than a few complaints, I feel like the last three were amazing. I wish Jordan wrote them, but Sanderson really did a fantastic job.

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I just finished Path of Daggers.

 

I can't speak to Winter's Heart onwards yet, I'm just starting WH -- but both ACOS and TPOD are definitely underrated.  

 

My impression in general is that the books hold up better as a completed whole than they probably did if you had to wait 1-2 years between each release. The thing that's most surprised me is how relatively consistent the quality is, despite the reviews. Jordan has his failings and quirks, but if a reader hasn't accepted and resigned themselves to those by book 7, I sort of wonder how they even made it that far. 

 

ACOS is certainly not a bad volume, even a pretty great one, especially if you like Mat. For me it might even rank among the best volumes so far (which I'd probably say are LOC, TSR, maybe TGH) -- *except* for the head-scratching dud of an ending (the battle with Sammael).  It was one of the clumsiest and least satisfying Big Confrontations in the series thus far -- and a good number of them have been clumsy and dissatisfying.  I sort of accept that, and just take pleasure in the rare occasions Jordan gets one of those Big Confrontations right (Nynaeve v. Moghedien in TSR, for example, which was electrifying).  That said, the book as a whole was really enjoyable.  I'd compare it to TDR -- good book, but kind of a clumsy/stupid ending battle. 

 

TPOD I only just finished, but honestly, it's really good, way better than a lot of critical reviews would have you believe.  It's a bit short for a WOT volume, and it doesn't have any super-super highpoints, but all of the developments are interesting and thoughtful and well-paced, in my opinion.  And despite the lack of any LOC-level Big Exciting Things in it, I think it is actually the least *flawed* volume I've read thus far.  Even the best WOT books usually have a really clumsily written confrontation, or a stretch of chapters that just plain lag, but, I dunno -- I just didn't find any of that to be true for TPOD.  It held my interest end to end and -- if I'm more than a little frustrated with Rand at this point, as a character -- nothing about the writing or quality of storytelling seemed lacking to me at all, weighed against the other volumes.  People really start to bitch about the slow pace of the series at around this book, but, I never really get that -- for me, the slow pace is part of the pleasure.  I like that Jordan doesn't rush through things once the characters are all Powerful Major Players -- but that he thoughtfully continues to unhurriedly develop and explore the complexities of his world and the many power factions he's populated it with.  

 

Again, my theory is that these middle volumes were probably more frustrating if you were picking them up as they were published -- for a Mat fan, say, it must've been disheartening that he isn't even touched on in TPOD, and knowing you were going to be waiting another 1-2 years for an update on his leg of the story.  But, hey -- that isn't a problem now, they can all be enjoyed one after another with no gap.  :)  I'm eager to get to COT.  Now that I know TPOD is actually quite good, I'm more optimistic about the next couple volumes.  

Edited by bofred

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I've now completed Winter's Heart (some minor spoilers for WH ahead). Since it gets some appreciation, and doesn't seem as universally disliked as TPOD or COT, my current feeling is that it's neither over or underrated, particularly. I actually would peg it a little below TPOD or ACOS, personally. After the fairly tight focus of TPOD, WH feels a bit meandering (while being almost equally short), with chunks of chapters devoted to material that even a patient reader would be hard-pressed to find very engrossing (Elayne's estate money, and most of the other bureaucratic details of her return to Caemlyn). In and of itself, I didn't find it's inclusion so bothersome -- it's just the fact that we're receiving that material at the expense of any number of far more interesting things lingering needlessly on the periphery, that irks slightly. The politics of the Black Tower and Taim/Logain, for instance -- the development of their rival factions is tantalizingly introduced early in the book, then never returned to. I kept thinking about how much I'd rather be reading more about what Logain and Taim were up to, than sit through another meeting with fretting bankers with Elayne. The amount of time devoted to fairly dull Elayne subplots in Caemlyn when Perrin, Rand, Egwene, and others all have far more interesting and significant things going on in their respective stories, was vaguely perplexing and frustrating. From what I've read, this problem of poorly chosen subplot priorities only gets worse with COT, but I'm bracing myself. Mat's leg of WH was enjoyable enough, but not as enjoyable as in ACOS -- I'm glad he's finally getting out of Ebou Dar, at least by the looks of it. 

 

That said, the cleansing is one of the better climaxes (by WOT standards, anyway, which is only saying so much), and there are any number of interesting and enjoyable and surprising aspects to the book. Not a distinctly bad volume by any stretch, and by no means as bad as some of the harsher reviews would have you think -- but not one I'd rank among the very best, either. 

 

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(Warning:  This post contains moderate spoilers for Towers of Midnight.)

 

 

I would say that all of the middle books (say 7-10 or 7-11) are somewhat underrated, probably by people like me who read the first six books one after another, and then had to wait years between books after that.  I still think that these middle books are the weakest in the series, but I also think that if you read straight through, they aren't quite as weak as I had originally thought.  They definitely have too many slow parts, and take too many pages to get through too little story, but the slow parts are easier to deal with, knowing that I can dive right into the next book.

 

I would also mention Towers of Midnight as possibly underrated.  It seems to get a lot of criticism due to the way it jumps back and forth in the timeline.  I think that this is a very valid criticism, and these timeline problems definitely detracted from my enjoyment of the book.  (For example, there is a point at the end when Perrin's and Egwene's timelines converge, yet I thought that Perrin was still a month behind Egwene at that point, so having them meet each other suddenly seemed to come completely out of left field.)  

 

However, having said all of that, there are some very, very awesome scenes throughout Towers of Midnight.  I would even include a certain scene with Mat, Thom, and Noal near the end as one of my favorites of the entire series.  And Aviendha's vision, while bleak, harks back in a very powerful way to The Shadow Rising, and reveals some very interesting things about the world of the Wheel of Time.

 

If Brandon and Team Jordan ever wanted to take the time to reorganize The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight to fix the timeline problems in ToM, these would be two of the strongest books in the series, in my opinion.  As it is, I still would categorize ToM as an underrated book, though not quite as strong as some of the early books.

Edited by Paul H

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I'm doing a re-read atm and I just finished ACOS, and I have to say I enjoyed it almost as much as LOC, and significantly more than FOH, which surprised me because I remember it being the book where I lost interest when I first read the series.

 

We get the aftermath of Dumai's Wells, Rand laying the smack down when he gets back to Cairhien and the Aes Sedai getting put in their place by the Aiel, Rand & Min's relationship(which is the only one of his 3 relationships which comes remotely close to making sense or feeling like real, genuine human interaction - it's nice to see him chill out a bit under her influence). Elayne is probably at her best point in the series post TSR - she tones down a lot of the hypocritical arrogance and cattiness which marked her behavior in FOH/LOC when Birgitte and Aviendha point out how horrible she treats people, and she hasn't yet launched into that painfully dull and pointless '"earn" the crown of Andor' plotline. Even Nynaeve becomes marginally less psychotic, especially once Lan pops up. A lot of Matt being Matt, which is always good fun, and a bit of Egwene starting to come into her own and lay down the foundations for her rise to power. It's generally got a decent pacing to it without too much time devoted to describing meaningless details and scenery and side characters (although one could make a good argument that the whole Bowl of Winds sub-plot could be scrapped and it would only improve the series).

 

The only major complaints I had are, firstly, Rand's arbitrary decision to gateway over to the Rebel's camp where Fain just happens to be in a position to attack him after spending 5 minutes with the Sea Folk was annoying: both because they'd been building up the Sea Folk/Rand connection for several books, only to just drop it in the hands of some random Aes Sedai offscreen, and because Rand going to the rebels camp just felt like an excuse to put him in a position where Fain could attack him - nothing else of consequence happens there, and a Fain attack could have been brought about much more organically.

 

Secondly, his stupid decision to immediately attack Sammael immediately after waking post-Fain-stabbing and the generally rushed nature of the conclusion. They spent 2 and a half books building up to the showdown between Rand and Sammael, all this talk about strategies and diversions and building of armies, then in the end the climax winds up being almost a perfect mirror the FOH climax - Rand, weakened immediately following a dramatic showdown with a long term enemy whom he fails to kill, opens a gateway to where one of the Forsaken is, barges in with a bunch of troops, duels him with the OP for a bit, they both gateway to a different location, continue to duel with the OP, then, with the help of another of the Forsaken (Moghedian under Nynaeve's control in FOH, Moridin in ACOS), ends up using balefire to destroy an opponent who should have taken him down in two seconds flat given his weakened state (he was even weaker than he was after Lanfear tortured him, and he didn't have an angreal like he did fighting Rahvin), and their comparative experience and knowledge of the OP. Oh, and then they just throw him the crown of Illian, cause whatevs.

 

So yeah, while it felt like RJ phoned it in a bit on the second half of Rand's plotline, but overall the book was well paced and engaging. Certainly compared to POD...

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