Last year, I finished reading Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time, and it was quite the experience.
Spanning 15 books, released from 1990 to 2013, Robert Jordan was unfortunately only able to complete 11 books and a prequel before his tragic passing, after which Brandon Sanderson took over to finish Jordan’s work, based off the notes he had left behind.
It is quite a commitment to read these books, with thousands of pages to read and many characters to keep track of, with it taking me almost a year to complete the entire series.
This was time well spent, in my opinion, because The Wheel of Time is now among my favourite novel series of all time.
Therefore, I decided to rank all of the books from the weakest to the best.
Keep in mind, though, that this is solely based off my first read through of the series, so my opinion could change after a second read through.
Also, this ranking will contain spoilers for the entire series, so if you haven’t read the books, then don’t read this.
With that out of the way, I’ll start with what I beleive to be the weakest book in The Wheel of Time series, and I’m sure that those of you who have read the books can guess which one it is.
15. Book Ten – Crossroads of Twilight.
No surprise, the book that most fans seem to agree is the weakest book of the series is the one that I rank right at the bottom.
Coming right at the end of “the slog” section of the novels, I had heard Crossroads of Twilight would be the hardest to get through.
Honestly, before this point, I had actually been enjoying the books of the so-called slog.
Sure, they weren’t up to par with what came before, but they were still enjoyable reads.
Unfortunately, this was not the case for Crossroads of Twilight for me, as I can firmly state it is the only book in the series that I did not like.
One of the biggest reasons for this is that it feels like almost nothing happens in this book.
I remember getting to page 350, setting the book down for a second, and going, “Wow, pretty much nothing of interest has happened, yet.”
This is not helped by how boring a lot of the POV characters are in this book.
Perrin’s storyline of trying to save Faile from the Shaido is still dragging its feet with very little progression.
Worst of all are the Elayne chapters.
My god, were her chapters difficult to get through.
She literally spends a significant portion of one chapter in a bath being told things.
However, this does not mean Crossroads of Twilight is devoid of good qualities.
The ending to the book is actually pretty great.
We get a phenomenal Perrin chapter, where he finally begins to grow in an interesting way, rather than meandering his way through the story, like he was beforehand.
Then there is Egwene getting capture right at the end, which kickstarts her phenominal storyline of gaining the White Tower’s support from the inside.
Sadly, these great moments come right at the end, and they don’t really redeem what came before, since it’s mostly just set up.
And that is Crossroads of Twilight’s main problem.
It’s mostly boring setup and it ends just as it’s starting to get good.
14. Book Eight – The Path of Daggers.
I heard a lot of bad things about The Path of Daggers before I read it.
People kept telling me that it was among the weakest of the series, alongside Crossroads of Twilight.
You know what, though?
I’m glad I heard these negative things about this book, because it made me appreicate its great moments all the more.
Yes, I do consider The Path of Daggers to be the second weakest book in The Wheel of Time, but this book was still a decent read for me.
I will get the negatives I have out of the way first, so I can end on the positives for this one.
For starters, this is where the Bowl of the Winds storyline comes to a conclusion and this was never a storyline I really cared about, so when the beginning of the book was largely centered around it, it did not make for a good beginning.
This was also the book where Egwene’s journey to the White Tower began to tire me out.
Sure, I liked her political manuvering, but it began to feel like it was taking forever to get to the Tower.
Also it was a shame to see that there was no Mat POV in this book, especially since his story ended on a cliffhanger in A Crown of Swords.
Then there’s the climax of the book which, while not bad, is a little anti-climactic when you compare it to the other endings in the series.
Now, onto the good.
For starters, I actually like Perrin’s chapters here.
Sure, it does end with the infamous Faile kidnapping plot starting, but I liked seeing Perrin deal with Masema’s men and meet up with Elyas again.
Then, there was Rand, who can always be counted on to be an interesting character and this book is no exception, with him delivering the best scene, when he uses Callandor and loses control, decimating his own forces.
These things made me appreicate The Path of Daggers, even if it is one of the series’ weakest.
13. Book Seven – A Crown of Swords.
This placement may come as a bit of a surprise for some because I have seen A Crown of Swords ranked in many different places on many different lists.
Some rank it high, some rank it in the middle, and some rank it low.
Sadly, it’s low for me, although I will admit this is mostly for a personal reason, this being that I just did not find a lot of the storyline’s this book covered to be that interesting.
As I said, the Bowl of the Winds was never a plotline I really cared for, and I especially did not like the way Mat played into it, with him getting raped by Tylin.
Now, I have heard that Robert Jordan intended this to be a commentary on how the rape of men by women is often unjustly mocked, which is a good thing to point out, but I believe it’s mishandled.
With the way the female characters laugh at Mat about it, it feels more like Jordan is just depicting Mat being shamed, rather than making an effective commentary about it.
Another personal reason that I have for ranking A Crown of Swords so low is that I never really cared about the Sea Folk culture either, and a large part of this book is Rand recruiting them.
Not to mention that this is the book where I noticed that a lot of great characters, like Thom and Loial, had been pushed to the side, which was frustrating.
There is still a lot of good things about A Crown of Swords, though.
For starters, the climax, although a bit rushed, is great, being the first time Rand and Moridin meet and interact, working togethor to kill Sammael.
Another thing I loved was a lot of the character relationships.
Lan and Nynaeve’s romantic progression is excellent.
However, my favourite character dynamic in this book, and one I was not at all expecting, was the emerging friendship between Mat and Birgitte.
My favourite scene in A Crown of Swords is actually the two of them becoming friends.
They just have such great chemistry and it leads to a lot of funny moments.
I needed more scenes in the series of these two hanging out, getting drunk, and just being best buds.
So, despite having a lot of personal issues with A Crown of Swords, it still has a lot of redeeming qualities.
12: Book Nine – Winter’s Heart.
I’ll be honest here.
If it was not for one thing about Winter’s Heart, then this book would not be above A Crown of Swords and The Path of Daggers.
I found most of this book to be a difficult read, with a lot of slow moments that failed to grab my interest.
The weakest chapters of this book were once again the Perrin and Elayne chapters.
Their whole storylines about rescuing Faile and trying to gain the Lion Throne are some of the weakest in the entire series, and this is really where I began to feel how much they dragged, before that dragging became insufferable during Crossroads of Twilight.
Then there’s Rand, who sets out to cleanse Saidin at the beginning of the book, however, rather than the story naturally moving towards that point, Rand just spends most of it hunting down the traitor Asha’man, making his story feel kind of disjointed.
At least Mat is back after his absense in The Path of Daggers, and we finally get the beginning of the Daughter of Nine Moons storyline that had been teased, with him meeting Tuon.
Mat’s character development was quite good in this book, and I really liked how he ended up freeing those Seanchan captives.
Another thing that I loved was the scene where Rand admits his love for Min, Aviendha and Elayne.
The reason I loved this scene was because of how awkwardly funny it was, with Nynaeve, Birgitte and Alanna’s reactions leaving me in stitches.
However, these moments were not enough to redeem the book for me.
So, why is it above The Path of Daggers and A Crown of Swords?
The final chapter of the novel, where Rand and Nynaeve cleanse Saidin from the Dark One’s taint, while their allies fight off the Foresaken is absolutely incredible and one of the best climaxes, no, the best chapters in The Wheel of Time.
It took me from feeling quite lukewarm about this book, to making me think it was worth reading all its difficult parts just to get to that conclusion.
The ending of Winter’s Heart is one of the best endings of the entire series, and it was enough to push the book up two spots, where it now rests at number 12.
11. Prequel Novel – New Spring.
I read New Spring before Knife of Dreams and I definitley think this was a good time for me to do so because it added more meaning to Lan’s actions in that book.
New Spring is a prequel novel that covers the beginning of Moiraine’s search for the Dragon Reborn, leading to her meeting Lan.
Getting insight into both of these characters’ pasts was great and, like I said, furthered my understanding of them in later books.
I also quite enjoyed seeing moments that had been mentioned previously in the series, like Lan throwing Moiraine into a lake.
It was a joy to read these two characters start off as suspicious towards one another before slowing beginning to build trust.
There is a section of this book that drags considerably, when Moiraine begins her search for the Dragon Reborn with Siuan’s help.
However, once she begins her search alone and we get Lan back into the picture, the story picks up again.
Sure, New Spring is pretty inconsequential in the grand scheme of the story but it is a good read that expands on future character motivation and fills in the blanks for some of the backstory.
Reading it made me sad that Robert Jordan was never able to publish other prequel novels, if he intended to do so before his tragic passing.
10. Book One – The Eye of the World.
The book that started it all, The Eye of the World impressed me quite a bit when I first read it.
This was because of how it both fit the Tolkein formula, yet also diverted from it.
Of all the fantasy novels I have read, many of them have a Lord of the Rings archetype to the point that some have appeared as little more than rip offs.
Robert Jordan, however, was able to put his own spin on this formula, creating quite a few surprises for me, like the attack on Emond’s Field during Winternight.
I was expecting the typical Gandalf stand-in to announce Rand as the chosen one and demand they leave before the evil forces attacked.
What I got instead was Moiraine not knowing it was Rand yet, the Trollocs attacking, and Moiraine then going into the interesting history of the supposedly simple village with the tale of the fall of Manetheren.
The Eye of the World continued to surprise me as it went on, endearing many of the characters to me, most notably Perrin, with his wolf storyline, and Thom, with his heroic supposed last stand to defend Mat and Ran.
Although I did find myself quite confused about what exactly was going on with the ending at first.
Still, The Eye of the World was a great start for the series, with Robert Jordan using Tolkein influences to lay the groundwork, from which he would truly forge the Wheel of Time’s identity with The Great Hunt.
9. Book Three – The Dragon Reborn.
The Dragon Reborn is a novel I hear getting a lot of praise compared to the other books in the series, so it may come as a surprise that I rank it at number nine.
I did enjoy The Dragon Reborn, it’s just that I found the other books to be more interesting, as there were a couple of things holding this one back, like the final fight.
It is yet another battle between Rand and Ba’alzamon and by that point I was kind of tired of them, wondering if every book was going to end with the same thing which, thankfully, did not happen.
As for the positives that placed this book in its position, one thing that I appreciate about The Dragon Reborn was how it handled Mat.
Reading The Eye of the World and The Great Hunt, I was quite confused about why Mat was many people’s favourite character, since he did not leave a very favourable impression in those two books.
Then I read The Dragon Reborn and I began to get it.
Mat is definitely the standout of this book, starting off great with his quarterstaff fight against Gawyn and Galad and eventually saving Egwene, Nynaeve and Elayne from the Black Ajah’s prison… which he is berated for.
Well, I can’t say that moment doesn’t tie into the common motif of men and women being at odds in this series.
While I did not find the three girls’ part of the story to be as interesting (or likeable), I can say that Perrin again shined in this book, with his story leading to him meeting both Faile and Gaul.
I also thought this book’s pacing and structure was top notch, as it all builds up to the finale of Rand taking Callandor, even if I was tired of the Ba’alzamon fights by that point.
It is Mat who truly stands out in The Dragon Reborn, with his emergence as one of the most likeable characters of the series being the key part of this book to stick in my head.
8. Book Six – Lord of Chaos.
Much like The Dragon Reborn, Lord of Chaos may be another book people are surprised to see ranked low because it is commonly viewed as having one of the greatest climaxes in The Wheel of Time.
I cannot argue with this sentiment at all, as the battle at Dumai’s Wells was incredible to read through for the first time, especially with how it all tied into the growth of Rand’s character and his connection with Lews Therin.
Rand is definitley the highlight of Lord of Chaos, with every single chapter of his being compelling to the point that I got excited every time I would turn the page and see that the next chapter’s POV would be his.
Along with his confinement by the Aes Sedai, leading to the ending battle, and his inner conversations with Lews Therin, another thing that was handled excellently in my opinion was the mental assault Alanna subjects him to by forcibly bonding him as her Warder.
This was handled much better than the sexual assault Mat endured in Crown of Swords, with it being treated as the disgusting act it is.
Rand really has to fight his way through trial after trial in this book, both physically and mentally.
Lord of Chaos was the book that made me go, “okay, maybe Rand is one of the greatest fantasy protagonists of all time.”
So, if I enjoyed Rand’s POV chapters and the final battle in Lord of Chaos so much, then why is it only at number eight?
Well, because of everything else.
Lord of Chaos is where the story began to drag a bit for me, with a lot of the other characters’ stories in this book just not being as interesting to me.
Not to mention I felt that some of the characters’ storylines were a bit abrupt, especially with Egwene becoming the Armylin Seat, although I do know that was the point.
Also, Lord of Chaos has what is probably my least favourite moment of the entire series, which is Egwene stumbling into a dream of Gawyn saving her from Rand and suddenly deciding she loves him out of nowhere.
It’s one of the most abrupt and out of nowhere love confessions I’ve seen in fiction.
Despite these issues, Lord of Chaos still has plenty of brilliant moments, with its compelling Rand chapters and one of the best endings to any book in the series.
7. Book Five – The Fires of Heaven.
The Fires of Heaven is a book that I find to be fairly underrated in the series.
Picking up after Rand becomes acknowledged as the Car’a’carn by all of the Aeil except the Shaido, The Fires of Heaven mainly follows Rand’s journey to stop Couladin from pillaging the land.
Much like Lord of Chaos, Rand’s chapters are great, especially the ones with Asmodean, the Foresaken who was forced to serve him at the end of The Shadow Rising.
Conversations between these two characters are always excellent, with some of my favourite instances of dialogue in the series coming from their conversations.
It is a shame that Asmodean dies at the end of this book, as I was looking forward to seeing if a former Foresaken could be redeemed.
Him dying at the end does not change how great his scenes with Rand are.
Neither Rand nor Asmodean are the best characters in this book, though.
No, in my opinion, that title is shared between Mat and Moiraine.
The Fires of Heaven has what is probably my favourite Mat moment of the entire series, where he unintentionally forms the Band of the Red Hand and rallies them to enter the battle, killing Couladin himself.
Then, there’s Moiraine, who sacrifices herself to defeat Lanfear.
Moiraine being revealed to have survived in Towers of Midnight does not diminish the impact this moment had on me, with her letter to Rand making me tear up for the first time when reading The Wheel of Time.
This all builds into an excellent final battle with Rhavin, resulting in Rand using Balefire to revive his friends, this taboo form of chanelling being referenced by the title of the novel.
As for issues, I do think that Nynaeve and Elayne’s circus storyline is pretty annoying, although there are some great moments like Birgitte being ripped from the pattern.
Also, the cliffhanger of the novel is a false one, with Morgase being built up to go against Rand, only for her subsequent storyline to be pretty disappointing.
Probably the biggest issue though was Perrin’s absence, after his incredible storyline in The Shadow Rising.
These things held The Fires of Heaven back but, otherwise, I loved this book.
6. Book 13 – Towers of Midnight.
The second book in the series written by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s passing, Towers of Midnight is probably the weakest of the three written by him.
That said, its ranking shows that I still consider it to be one of the better books.
Perrin and Mat take up most of the page time here and Mat’s storyline is especially fantastic.
This was a relief when reading because Sanderson did struggle to write Mat a bit in The Gathering Storm.
Mostly everything about Mat in this book was great, with him finally finishing off the Gholam and then rescuing Moiraine with Thom and Noal (Jain Fairstrider).
He even gets another drinking scene with Birgitte, so that was an instant plus for me.
As for Perrin, Sanderson also did a great job of developing his character, as he forges his hammer Mah’alleinir, battles Slayer in the Wolf Dream, unfortunately leading to Hopper’s demise, and brings the White Cloaks to his side, Galad among them.
Speaking of, one thing I knew coming into Towers of Midnight was that there would be a chapter focusing on a tiral that not a lot of readers liked.
So, I was quite surprised to get to this chapter and find that it did not bother me.
Sure, it is nothing great but it is serviceable for the plot.
Another complaint I have heard is that Egwene’s conflict with Rand is frustrating but, personally speaking, I was still able to see where the characters were coming from.
Egwene’s storyline at the White Tower was my least favourite one of the book though, so that was a surprise, considering how much I adored her POV in The Gathering Storm.
As for Rand, what little content he got was excellent.
Aviendha’s storyline about the potential dark future of the Aeil and the Seanchan was also quite chilling and raised a lot of interesting questions that we still don’t know the answers to, but in a way that I actually like.
My only major criticism is with the Elayne chapters, as she is quite insufferable initially, although she does get better.
Other than that, and a few minor things, I greatly enjoyed this novel.
Towers of Midnight was a great penultimate book heading into the epic conclusion for the series.
5. Book Eleven – Knife of Dreams.
I have often heard Knife of Dreams described as Robert Jordan’s swan song and I think that this is an apt description.
This was the final book Jordan completed before his tragic passing, leaving Brandon Sanderson to finish his great work.
In my opinion, Jordan went out with a bang, his final book being a massive improvement from Crossroads of Twilight.
One bit of praise I did give to that book, though, was that Perrin’s storyline picked up at the end.
Well, Jordan carries through with that, as Perrin’s POV chapters in this book are excellent.
This was a surprise to me, since I found the whole rescuing Faile from the Shaido plotline to be quite boring in Winter’s Heart and Crossroads of Twilight.
The conclusion for it in Knife of Dreams was fantastic, with a lot of tragedy to it as well, like with the death of Arram.
It was also quite sad to see how brutal Perrin had to become to save Faile.
Just like in Towers of Midnight, Mat also shares the biggest amount of page time with Perrin, as he continues to travel with Tuon, their relationship slowly growing.
In Crossroads of Twilight, I was unsure about their relationship, but I felt their chemistry completely in Knife of Dreams.
This leads to the moment where Tuon completes the marriage ceremony, a moment that had me laughing harder than any other joke in the series.
We also see Mat’s strategic military genius on full display, as he uses the Dragons Aludra created to fight the Seanchan.
However, just as I said that Knife of Dreams was similar to Towers of Midnight through how both Perrin and Mat got the most POV chapters, another unfortunate similarity is the quality of the Elayne chapters.
Knife of Dreams in the book that I found Elayne to be at her most insufferable, with her getting two Aes Sedai killed and not even feeling any guilt for it.
Sure, it does all end in an admittedly pretty good battle, but I for one breathed a sigh of releif when her storyline came to an end.
The rest of Knife of Dreams is excellent, though, with Rand’s brief storyline ending in brutal fashion, as he loses a hand to Semirhage who then reveals to everyone that he is hearing Lews Therin’s voice in his head.
I saved the best part of the book for last, and this undoubtedly the chapter where Nynaeve rallies the men of Malkier to rush to Lan’s aid, rising the Golden Crane.
This was the second chapter in The Wheel of Time which made me cry and it is my favourite Nynaeve moment by a landslide.
Knife of Dreams is definitley Robert Jordan’s swan song and it made me wonder what his ending for the series would have looked like, even if I am glad that Brandon Sanderson was able to step in to complete his work.
4. Book Fourteen – A Memory of Light.
The final book in The Wheel of Time, A Memory of Light finishes the story with a bang as Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, finally arrives.
This is the epic final battle that the series has been building to from the beginning.
Does Brandon Sanderson nail it?
Well, judging by A Memory of Light’s placing on this list as the fourth best book in The Wheel of Time, the answer is obviously yes.
The build up to the Last Battle is excellent, with numerous great moments such as Talmanes’ last stand in Camelyn, Moiraine returning to help Rand install his Dragon’s Peace, Rand meeting with Mat and Tam again, and Logain’s rescue from the Black Tower.
It is the Last Battle that is the true highlight, with an over two hundred page chapter dedicated to it, with the three Ta’veren fighting in their own ways, with Mat taking command of the entire army, Perrin protecting Rand from Slayer in Tel’aran’rhoid, and Rand fighting the Dark One himself in a metaphysical battle of wills.
As the battle unfolds, we get numerous tragic deaths, like those of Birgitte, Suian Sanche and Garethe Bryne, along with many heroic moments, like Olver blowing the Horn of Valere, leading to the dead heroes returning to help win the battle, along with Birgitte coming back to save Elayne.
Most heroic of all is Lan’s battle with Demandred, which had me cheering when he killed the Foresaken, left sad when it looked like he died, only for me to go back to cheering when he arose victorious, presenting Demandred’s head.
A Memory of Light made me emotional numerous time, with me tearing up three times when reading.
The first of these times was when Egwene sacrificed herself.
Apparently, Egwene was one of the characters who Robert Jordan had extensive notes on and that really shows in the best of ways.
The second time I teared up was when reading how Logain obtained his prophesied glory.
Going into the book, I thought he would achieve this glory through a noble sacrifice but to see it be something as simple as saving children, gaining the respect and admiration of the people, something Logain did not think was possible, brought a tear to my eye.
The final time I cried was when I read the ending and realized that I would never experience a first read through of The Wheel of Time again.
As for the ending itself, I loved it.
The conclusion to Rand’s character, transferring his soul into Moridin’s body, and the unresolved mystery of how he lit his pipe was excellent, not to mention how great of an idea it was for the final line to parallel the opening to every Wheel of Time novel.
As for criticisms, I suppose Padan Fain’s ending was a bit of a disappointment, but I had never really been interested in him since the Great Hunt so that was not much of an issue for me.
Otherwise, A Memory of Light was a fantastic way to end this story and I, and many others, are thankful to Brandon Sanderson for bringing Robert Jordan’s great work to a satisfying close.
3. Book Four – The Shadow Rising.
The Shadow Rising is viewed by many readers as the greatest book in The Wheel of Time.
After finishing it, I could see why that is the case, even though it is not my personal favourite, since I like the two above it more.
The Shadow Rising starts off strong, with the bubble of evil attacking Rand, Mat and Perrin in different ways, followed by Lanfear confronting Rand.
This lead to one of the first moments of Lew Therin peeking through Rand outwardly, as he actively recalls the past, a moment that gave me chills, almost as much as when Rand fruitlessly tried reviving the girl killed in the following Trolloc raid.
From here, our heroes’ stories diverge with Rand and Mat traveling to the Aeil Waste to recruit the Aeil, Perrin going back to Emond’s Field to save their people from the White Cloaks, and Nynaeve and Elayne continue their hunt for the Black Ajah, leading to a confrotation with Moghidien.
I will start with Perrin’s storyline, since it is undoubtedly one of the best in The Wheel of Time.
At this point in the story, Perrin was my favourite character, so imagine just how much motr his amazing story made me love him as he strived to save his people from both the White Cloaks and the Trollocs, all while reeling from the loss of his family.
This all leads to the Battle of Emond’s Field, another great battle in the series, where Perrin bests the Trollocs with Faile’s help, leading to him dismissing the White Cloaks and becoming the unwilling Lord of the Two Rivers, along with having his first encounter with Slayer.
Rand and Mat’s venture into Rhuidean is almost just as interesting, with Rand learning about the true history of the Aeil with one of the most interesting displays of flashbacks I have seen in a novel.
Then there’s Mat’s confrontation with the Eelfinn, leading to him having the blanks in his memory filled by those of ancient generals, eventually leading to his great development in The Fires of Heaven.
This kickstarts their journey to recruit the Aeil, leading to Rand unknowingly having his first encounter with Asmodean, beginning their fantastic dialogue exchanges, eventually culminating in their final fight where Rand and Lanfear force the Foresaken to teach Rand how to channel.
Then there is Nynaeve and Elayne’s story which, while I personally did not find it to be as interesting as the other two, introduced many interesting elements, like some of the terrifying powers the Foresaken have, with Moghidien using compulsion to get information out of them.
Nynaeve gets back at her, however, taking on the Foresaken at the end of her storyline, though certainly not for the last time.
Finally, there is the beginning of the White Tower conflict, as Suian is deposed and stilled, leading to Min having to rescue her and Leanne, before escaping with Logain, in turn setting up his glory plotline, another storyline that greatly intrigued me to the end.
Of all of these storylines, though, I have made it clear that it is Perrin’s one that shines the most, as I was excited every time I would turn the page and see it was his POV chapter next.
The Shadow Rising is a fantastic read, one which I can see why so many people rank it as their favourite.
2. Book Twelve – The Gathering Storm.
The first book released by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan passed, I am sure a lot of readers were nervous to see whether Sanderson could pull off telling the story Jordan was supposed to finish.
Well, after reading The Gathering Storm and staring at nothing in astonishment for a few minutes, I concluded that no other writer was a better choice to conclude Jordan’s story after his passing than Sanderson.
While The Shadow Rising has one of the greatest storylines in the entirety of The Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm has two of them, those being the storylines of Rand and Egwene, both of which are just spectacular.
Rand’s descent down a darker path in this book is haunting, as he closes himself off after being compelled by Semirhage to almost kill Min, leading to him accessing the True Power and turning it on the Foresaken.
This all eventually leads to one of Rand’s darkest moments as, after killing a fortress full of compulsed people in an attempt kill Graendal, Cadsuane sends his father Tam to try and talk some sense into him.
At first, this is quite the emotional scene, with me again tearing up at the father and son reunion, only for it to turn horrifying when Rand loses control and nearly murders Tam.
However, Rand’s darkest moment quickly leads to one of his most triumphant and moving as, when he goes to Dragonmount to destroy the Pattern with the Chodean Kal, Lews Therin proposes that they were reborn to have a second chance and love again.
Renewed with hope, Rand destroys the Chodean Kal and laughs joyfully, now fully prepared to take on the Dark One.
This descent into darkness and then rise into light is one of Rand’s best arcs and just as good as it is Egwene’s rise to power in the White Tower, as she slowly undermines Elaida’s rule, before proving herself in the fight against the Seanchan.
She has multiple fantastic moments, probably my favourite of which is her burn against Eladia, stating that she would call her a Darkfriend if not for the fact that the Dark One would probably be too embarrassed to associate with her.
What is truly amazing about The Gathering Storm, though, is that despite Rand and Egwene having some of their best storylines, they are not the best character in this novel.
No, in my opinion, that title goes to a character who does not have much page time but is still incredibly important: Verin Mathwin.
Verin exposing herself as a double agent Black Ajah to Egwene and then sacrificing herself to make sure she has the means to expose all of the black sisters was incredible to read and, much like Rand’s reunion with his father, made me cry.
Verin went from a character I liked, but nowhere near my top ten, to one of my favourite characters in The Wheel of Time in just a single chapter.
She is not the only character I was glad to see get the spotlight they deserve because Aviendha also finally gets page time again.
Also there is no page time for Elayne so that was a relief after how annoying I found her to be in Knife of Dreams.
One criticism I do have for The Gathering Storm, which keeps it from the top spot, is Sanderson’s writing of Mat.
It has been pointed out by many people, Sanderson included, that he struggled writing Mat and it shows here because he does sound noticeably different.
That said, I did quite enjoy his storyline in this book, with his stay in Hinderstap being especially horrifying.
Aside from the issues with Mat’s character, The Gathering Storm is a fantastic read and was a phenomenal start for Brandon Sanderson in picking up from where Robert Jordan left off.
1. Book Two – The Great Hunt.
My favourite novel in The Wheel of Time is without a doubt the second book, The Great Hunt.
This is the one where Robert Jordan truly forged The Wheel of Time’s identity.
In The Eye of the World, he showed that he could take influence from Tolkein while being different and in The Great Hunt he diverges completely to do his own thing, with fantastic results.
The novel begins with Rand finally being told by Moiraine, Suian and Verin that he is the Dragon Reborn, something he is understandably unwilling to accept.
He hardly has any time to grapple with this however because the Horn of Valere is then stolen by Padan Fain who is quite the scary antagonist here.
Later on in the series, I came to view Fain as little more than a caricature but he is honestly terrifying in The Great Hunt.
He is not the only amazing antagonist in this novel, though, because this is also where Jordan introduces the Seanchan,
I cannot remember a time when I have hated a fictional fantasy culture more than them.
Jordan did a fantastic job of making them despicable, by perfectly portraying their disgusting tradition of enslaving women who can channel and quite literally erasing their entire identity and replacing it with something that consitutes as a pet at best and an object at worst.
While this made me despise the Seanchan, it did the opposite for Egwene, as this book truly endered her to me as she struggled against them.
The moment when she tells Min to remember her and another captured woman’s names before they are removed by the Seanchan’s torture was haunting.
As for Rand, his journey to recover the Horn of Valere is also phenomenal, as he begins his struggle with the weight of his destiny.
This results in my favourite moment of the entire series, where Rand’s use of the Portal Stones results in him experiencing potential alternate versions of himself with futures that all end in tragedy, as the Dark One always wins and always whispers in his mind, “I win again, Lews Therin.”
What makes this moment even more impactful is to look back on it and realize that Jordan was foreshadowing a lot of important events through these alternate universe visions, like Egwene becoming the Armylin Seat.
Other stellar scenes include Nynaeve’s initiation into the accepted, Thom’s return and, of course, Ingtar revealing he is a Darkfriend before returning to the Light and sacrificing himself.
Speaking of Ingtar, him and Hurin are great new characters, and I wish we got to see more of Hurin, since I feel he was underused.
Ingtar’s sacrifice is just a part of thel battle at Falme, where Mat is unexpectedly the one to blow the Horn of Valere, and Rand has his second face off against Ba’alzamon, which is my favourite of the three.
“I will never serve you, Father of Lies. In a thousand lives, I never have. I’m sure of it. Come. It is time to die.”
It was hard not to cheer at this moment when Rand seems to finally accept his identity as the Dragon Reborn and fight Ba’alzamon in the sky.
As for criticisms, I would say that, at the time, it was difficult not to get frustrated at Rand for not finding Selene suspicious when she was so obviously Lanfear.
However, after reading further into the series and seeing Rand’s naive perception of women and the dangers this ultimately puts him and his friend in, I recognize it as a good character flaw that he has to overcome.
Overall, The Great Hunt is an amazing book, one which truly forged the series’ identity and set the stage for what was to come with some of the best moments of the series.
Thus, it is my favourite book in The Wheel of Time.