Lord of Chaos (The Wheel of Time, Book 6) by Robert Jordan
While the prologues in some of the previous novels have been relatively short, this one devotes a few pages to all the minor/major characters that aren't Rand. Nynaeve and Elayne are with the rebel Aes Sedai where the fifth novel left them, and Elayne has had some success with creating ter'angreal, while Nynaeve continues to examine Leane and Siuan to find a cure for "stilling." After a novel long hiatus (I was definitely disappointed not to see Perrin in the previous novel), Perrin once again feels the pull of ta'veren, and embarks on a journey to Caemlyn, capital of Andor, to join up with Rand. Mat, meanwhile, has mostly accepted his role, and is planning an attack on Illian, or Sammael, the Forsaken who has taken it over, more specifically. The novel tells the reader straight up that Mat's attack is a strategic faint but it is not all the open about the actual plan of attack.
There is actually a lot of movement going on in this novel, and while it seems like most of the other novels have ended with the death of a Forsaken and/or a huge battle, I enjoyed the more political aspects of the novel. While there was a battle at the end, of course, for me the action doesn't always have to be actual action like battles so if this is how the lag in the series works out, I can definitely deal with it (I've heard that it's around book six that the series starts dragging on). Egwene is summoned to Salidar, and is finally reunited with Nynaeve and Elayne after several novels worth of absence. To her surprise, she is chosen as the Amyrlin Seat of the rebel Aes Sedai but considering that they would all think Egwene's age would make her malleable, it might not be surprising that the different factions and powers could agree on her if they could not on each other.
While I found Mat quite annoying the first few novels, he is quickly getting up there with Perrin as far as favorite characters go. He has matured a lot over the last few novels, and I just think his arc is interesting. His mission is diverted since Rand decides it is more important to get Elayne back to Andor to take her throne. While the women weren't nearly as annoying in this novel (Elayne, Nynaeve and Egwene actually acted as friends without bitching), as soon as Jordan has his male and female heroes interact with each other, I generally want to strangle the necks of some characters - usually the women. It's bad enough that the characters don't communicate well, but they don't communicate at all across the genders. So many misunderstandings could be avoided by a simple question of "did you mean this or that?" instead of constant assumptions that the men are simply acting arrogantly. In fact, there were a few scenes from the view of the Forsaken in the novel, and I actually really like the evil women, especially Graendal. I like how capable she is. Somehow, I don't think the Forsaken are supposed to be among my favorite characters but they are just so much more entertaining - some of the other characters definitely have their moments of whininess.
One of the big things in this novel has to do with the Aes Sedai. Rand has followed through on his pardon to men that can channel and has established a school for them to be trained. Aes Sedai delegations have been sent from both the rebels at Salidar and the White Tower. One is at Caerhien and the other at Caemlyn, and Rand Travels back forth and between the two as he sees fit. This is another one where the women's attitudes get annoying because they see Rand has yet another man that has to learn his place and show them proper respect. Given how much power the Aes Sedai have lost over the past few centuries, they should consider learning a more diplomatic route - or perhaps use their common sense. The main plot revolves around how Rand will deal with the Aes Sedai, and mostly sets up for the next novel as it ends with several forces and characters enroute on various quests.
While the novel didn't drag at all, when actually writing down what occurred, it really doesn't seem like all that much necessarily happened. As I said, a lot of it was setting the stage for later events. Morgase, the Queen of Andor, is still with the White Cloaks but has not formalized their allegiance yet, while the Dark One is putting his Forsaken into motions although what his current endgame is remains unclear. One thing that does seem clear is that he appears to want Rand left alive. Lews continues to make his presence known in Rand's head, and one can only assume that Rand will learn to use the voice of the dead man in his head to advantage in the future though he currently fears that Lews will try to take him over. For the most part, the voice is rather annoying, constantly bewailing his dead lover/wife. When it comes down to it, I'm not really a huge fan of Rand's. I think the whole love triangle/square is obnoxious - really, Robert Jordan, your hero had to have three women fall in love with him at once? And they are all okay with it? I'm not sure if I want to see how he ties that one up.
From this book on, I admit one of my favorite things to do has been to look at the negative reviews on Amazon because some of them are hilarious. And generally, the negative reviews don't even get negative feedback - even the most radical fans are willing to admit to the series' flaws. I've decided for at least the next few novels I'm going to link to one of the more inspired Amazon reviews for entertainment.