Review: Winter’s Heart, the ninth book in The Wheel of Time covers much of the world in snow. The Bowl of Winds used in the previous book has ended the blazing hot summer, but now snow and rain and cold are slowing down traditional forms of travel.
Faile, Alliandre, and Morgase (still in disguise), as well as Bain and Chiad, are captured and made gai’shan by the Shaido while Perrin was meeting with Masema, the self-anointed Prophet of the Dragon. Perrin’s reputation takes a hit when Berelain has his freezing, exhausted body brought back to her tent to recover. Although nothing untoward happens and Perrin claims nothing happened, most of the various groups following him have their doubts. He begins trying to track down the Shaido and Faile, moving the large mass of his “people” with him.
Rand is attacked in Cairhein by some Asha’man who Mazrim Taim later claims were deserters and had gone rogue. Rand tells him to find them before he next visits the Black Tower, but makes his own plans to hunt them down, which leads him Far Madding, a city that has ter’angreal that replicate a steddings ability to block access to the One Power. Banking on his fighting ability, Rand has left a very faint trail for these Asha’man to follow, which they do, partly because they believe they can take him, and partly because they fear to fail those who ordered them to kill him.
Elayne and Aviendha become “sisters” through a Wise One ritual not too long before Rand shows up in Caemlyn to discuss an important matter with Nynaeve. As he’s finishing up that discussion, he’s set upon by Elayne, Aviendha, and Min. They take him back to Elayne’s chambers where they all bond him. Min and Aviendha then give Elayne and Rand some time alone. In the morning, Elayne finds Rand and Nynaeve have gone from the castle. Elayne learns that four borderlander rulers have moved their armies south in search of Rand. She pays them a surprise visit and gets them to agree to help her secure her throne with a bit of military smoke and mirrors. Upon returning from this trip, Elayne is informed that some of her rivals for the Lion Throne have rallied their troops and are intent on taking Caemlyn.
Mat has been stuck in Ebou Dar as the plaything of the Queen, Tylin, who’s been raised to the Blood. He’s been gnashing his teeth trying to figure out how to get out of the city without a fight, when suddenly, in grand Mat fashion, everything lines up perfectly for him to flee while rescuing a number of captive Aes Sedai and a few Seanchan who’ve begun to run afoul of their fellows. In the escape, Mat finds his “Daughter of the Nine Moons”…and kidnaps her.
Using key to access the strongest Sangreal ever made, Rand, with the aid of Nynaeve’s power, attempts to cleanse the male half of the one power, while roving bands of Asha’man and Aes Sedai fight off a number of the Chosen who are drawn to the amount of power being channeled by Rand and Nynaeve.
Does Rand cleanse the taint? Read the book.
Bottom Line: There is action in this book, but not much of it. In the heart of winter, the action bogged down along with the wagons. That doesn’t make this a bad book. It’s still got plenty of important interactions and machinations, revelations and hope for the future. We learn more about some characters, how far they’re willing to go for some of the others.