The Fires of Heaven: Amazingly little happens

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsfantasy book reviews Robert Jordan The Wheel of Time 5: The Fires of HeavenThe Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan

For being such a long book (nearly 1000 pages in my trade paperback copy), amazingly little happens in The Fires of Heaven, and this is why so many readers have abandoned this otherwise interesting story. Approximately the first third of the novel contains so much recap and repetition that, if I’d had “my hair in a proper braid,” I would have been yanking it as often as Nynaeve does.

The formula for the first 100 pages or so goes something like this:  One or two lines of dialogue, two paragraphs of backstory, another line of dialogue, another couple of paragraphs of backstory… It felt like the proverbial “one step forward, two steps back!”

I managed to stick with it, though, only because I was listening to it on audiobook (and therefore only half listening while I accomplished something else at the same time) and because I wanted to write a review. Besides, I found it immensely entertaining when I could complete Robert Jordan’s sentences for him… <<Heavy sigh>>…

In The Fires of Heaven, we never see Perrin or Faile, which is fine with me. There is an interesting plot-line involving Siuan Sanche, Logain, and Gareth Bryne. Rand’s adoption of Asmodean is entertaining, too — I like that we’re not really sure which side Asmodean and Lanfear are on. The plot does finally move forward a bit, but it takes way too long to do so. The book could have easily been cut to half its size and been better for it.
If I had been the editor, I would have taken my blue pencil to all instances of:fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

  • females obsessing about the modesty of their clothing
  • males obsessing about the modesty of female clothing
  • needless skirt smoothing and straightening
  • silk clinging to hips and breasts
  • shivering or sweating that has nothing to do with the weather
  • characters of both sexes moaning about not understanding the opposite sex
  • braid pulling, tugging, and yanking
  • sniffing
  • thoughts, discussion, and actual occurences of bottoms being switched or spanked
  • bitchy women turning otherwise strong men into quivering lumps of Jello
  • Nynaeve’s cat fights

At this point, I’m quickly losing patience as The Wheel of Time quickly loses steam. That’s a shame, because the story itself is very good — but it’s just too hard to extract it from the dross.

~Kat Hooper

fantasy book reviews Robert Jordan The Wheel of Time 5: The Fires of HeavenIf weren’t for Perrin’s battle in the The Shadow Rising, I may have given up on this series. While The Fires of Heaven isn’t the page-turner that the first three WHEEL OF TIME books were, it does manage to pull me back into this long epic. My favorite character, Perrin, is barely mentioned in this book and I find the conniving, bossing and moodiness of the women characters terribly irritating (they also scare me because I fear that those traits could be all too real). It’s the supporting characters, Thom Merrilen, Juilin, Lan, and others that make this story enjoyable.

THE WHEEL OF TIME is definitely a worthwhile read for fantasy fans and I do plan to read the next one. It’s just too darn long, so it won’t make it to the top of my must-read-list. While some huge epics out there — Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, for example — stay vividly exciting, WHEEL OF TIME seems to have a lot of filler.

Note to authors: Did you know you can finish a storyline and start another in the same setting? These worlds are your own creations, for crying out loud.

~Greg Hersom

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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GREG HERSOM’S (on FanLit's staff January 2008 -- September 2012) addiction began with his first Superboy comic at age four. He moved on to the hard-stuff in his early teens after acquiring all of Burroughs’s Tarzan books and the controversial L. Sprague de Camp & Carter edited Conan series. His favorite all time author is Robert E. Howard. Greg also admits that he’s a sucker for a well-illustrated cover — the likes of a Frazetta or a Royo. Greg live with his wife, son, and daughter in a small house owned by a dog and two cats in a Charlotte, NC suburb. He retired from FanLit in Septermber 2012 after 4.5 years of faithful service but he still sends us a review every once in a while.

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