So, I am slowly getting toward the end of "The Wheel of Time" series. With "Winter's Heart" I finished 9th book out of 14. Four more books before "Memory of Light" - with luck, I will finished them just in time to receive MoL.
"Winter's Heart" is slightly larger that was "The Path of Daggers", somewhat below 700 pages. There are four main plot-lines here. Faile was in last book captures by Shaido, and now is trying to figure out what to do, while Perrin is trying to rescue her, while at the same time balancing Masema, Ghealdanin, Aes Sedai and Wise-Ones, and Berelain. Elayne has arrived in Camelyn and started her campaign to win the Throne of Andor, but she also has her hands full: open and hidden opponents, enmity between Aes Sedai, Kinswomen and Atha'an Miere, a massive army of Borderlanders with unknown intention. Rand is, on the other side, focused on a single goal: executing rebel Asha'man. That is, before he can turn his attention to a much larger goal: cleaning the Saidin. And at South, in Ebou Dar, recently conquered by Seanchan, we have Mat Cauthon, who is trying to escape his fate, not knowing that Daughter of Nine Moons is coming closer.
Only now I realized that Egwene is absent from this book, as were Rand, Perrin and Mat before. She only appears in short cameo with Elayne. I have read these books at least three or four times before, but I haven't realized it before: it is because they are not encompassed and defined as were the early ones. Also, does this mean that Jordan considered Egwene as fourth main characters? As most reviewers, I always considered Rand, Perrin and Mat the three protagonists.
I have only words of praise for this book. I still like Perrin's and Faile's part, and I don't see myself changing my opinion. Perrin is being a bit too emotional, but that is who he is. And he is surrounded with such different characters that his observations (especially when he smells them) are very interesting.
Elayne's part is maybe too long in whole, but here is not; I always liked reading about politics. I especially liked the chapter when she is meeting with the Borderlanders. And the chapter with Elayne, Min and Aviendha finally making some deal with Rand makes me happy, as much for them as for Rand.
This is the first time that Nyneve is having her own adventures, without Elayne. She was in her company without break from "The Great Hunt": eight books! They sure had a lot adventures together. Anyway, Nyneve is great together with Elayne, or by herself. In last book I didn't like Nyneve with Atha'an Miere and Kinswoman, but this time all that is very funny.
As for Rand, I think this book proves my claim that things are going down for the Light. Even though they succeed with a major success, Rand's mental condition is again getting worse. I really liked the great chapter when Rand meets Elayne, Aviendha and Min: it is always funny to see their misunderstandings revealed. Also, Far Madding chapters are very interesting.