In Winter’s Heart, the ninth installment of Robert Jordan’s epic series, the author learned the lesson from his previous entry (The Path of Daggers) by having one of the myriad of character arcs from the beginning of the book develop over it’s course so as to reach a conclusion at the end of the book. This dominating character arc was the series’ primary protagonist, Rand al’Thor aka The Dragon Reborn, who’s dual goal was to kill those who had attempted to take his life at the end of the previous volume and to cleanse the male half of The Power from the Dark One’s taint. The other strong point of Winter’s Heart is the return of Mat after being missed in the previous book, like what happened to Perrin in The Fires of Heaven. Elayne and Perrin’s arcs continue as well, though they are tertiary in the grand scheme of this book especially as Perrin’s is partial seen through the eyes of his wife, Faile.
Jordan’s return to having a dominating story arc that gives the book a beginning, middle, and end is big improvement over The Path of Daggers. However, of all the story arcs given space in this volume only Rand and Mat’s seem to have traction throughout. Elayne’s arc is broken up into several portions through the book while Perrin is gone after the first third of the book. It seems that in correcting the problem Jordan had in The Path of Daggers, he messed up the transitions from story arc to story arc that were a plus from The Path of Daggers.
Whatever the flaws, the last 34 pages of Winter’s Heart can make up from some of them. The last chapter, With the Choedan Kal, is one of the best (but not the best) that I’ve read in the series so far and by far the best since Book 5, The Fires of Heaven. Overall if I could give Winter’s Heart a 3 1/2 stars I would, however unlike The Path of Daggers in which I rounded down to a 3, but for the ninth installment I’m giving a 4.