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The fires of Heaven is the fifth book in the Wheel of Time and can be viewed as the end of the beginning of the story and the start of the long middle period. In this novel, characters that we have grown to know through the first four novels are added to by characters who only previously been peripheral figures and the fate of one of the characters is permanently sealed.
The Wheel of Time series is an ambitious multi book epic in the Tolkien/Eddings style of the grand fantasy epic. In this case, the epic is much longer than those by the other two authors and currently stands at 12 novels and will end with the 14th, the series has outlived its author and I suspect many readers. However, here in the fifth novel we are still enjoying the burst of creative juices created by the initial characters and the story hangs together rather well.
Very briefly at the end of book 4, Rand (the Dragon Reborn) has been accepted by the Aiel who are people of the desert as the car'a'can, that is the man who will face the Evil one at the end of days. Rand is Aiel descended but was left as a baby by his mother when the Aiel invaded the lands of the West 20 years previously. He has been sought by Moiraine a powerful sorceress from the guild of the blue Ajah; she is a member of the all female Aes Sedai. The male half of the Source has been corrupted the Dark one leaving only the female half untouched; this has caused a distrust of men who can wield the power. Along with Rand are his two close friends Matt and Perrin who are Ta'avaran, which is they can change the flow of time by their presence and cause odd things to happen. When Rand, Matt and Perrin are together the Wheel of Time is altered and any event can be changed. Matt is a happy go lucky chancer with an eye for the ladies and the gambling den, Perrin is more serious and has an affinity for animals particularly wolves.
Along with the men are Nynaeve and Egwene who come from the same village as Rand, Matt and Egwene both are destined to be powerful Aes Sedai and along the way they become friends with the crown princess of Tear Elayne who is another future Aes Sedai.
Al of these characters have separate stories and from this book onwards tend to have adventures on their own and the feel of one narrative is broken into telling the tale from the viewpoint of nearly 10 main characters. This breaking will inevitably lead to longer and longer books as the author doesn't skimp on descriptive text but in this novel things move fast enough to be enjoyable.
The Fires of Heaven
This is where the effect of the previous two novels becomes apparent, in those Rand has become both the Dragon Reborn and the Car'a'can, completing two separate prophecies of the one who will face the Dark one in the final battle. The fact he's been chosen for this role will dominate all the books from now on and demand that every action he and his friends do be scrutinised by his friends and enemies. In this novel, we finally meet some of the more powerful agents of the dark ones that is the small group of forsaken. The forsaken are a bit like the ring wraiths in that they were duped to follow the dark lord but are normal looking so can infiltrate any camp or town unsuspected.
This novel features one of the forsaken, the malicious Lanfear, we have met Lanfear before as she posed as an Aes Sedai helping Rand find the Horn of Valor (book 2) but revealed her real identity and tried to convert Rand to the workings of the Dark lord. Here in this novel, she becomes enraged by Rand's dealings and vows not to convert but to kill him.
That's the premise of the novel, but we get more backfilling here we learn far more about the forsaken. Previously to this novel, the enemy had been rather unthinking beasts like trollocs or mydrrall but here we have real flesh and blood humans who follow the dark one rather than the light. This important will be continued in far more depth with the investigation into the sinister black ajah's in future novel, in this one they are mentioned as a possibility but only in whispers and asides. The forsaken are real and are clear adversaries of Rand and his friends and as we progress we through their activities find out far more about the special talents of all the young people who left that small village at the start of the Wheel of Time. We even find out why the village is important and why Moiraine started her search there.
There is also a very satisfying battle about 2/3 through the book between the Aiel and its shadowy clan The Shaido. Again this resolves the concept of Dark Aiel but of course leaves almost as many questions to be answered. The battle is grand and epic and has more than the hint of the Pellinor fields about it, but as a piece of heroic fantasy writing its one of the better attempts.
At the end of the novel, the fate of many are shaped for the future and the novel ends with a shock. In truth, the novel is perhaps a shade long and the affection of increasing the number of stock characters rather means all books after this will increase in size but not necessarily in quality and ultimately detracts from the tale of Rand who after all is the focus of the novels. However, in this the fifth novel the desire to overwrite is thankfully watered down and the author creates a decent fantasy read.
Well thought I better continue my plod through reviewing all these wonderful books. The fires of heaven is the fifth book in the brilliany wheel of time series by fantasy writer Robert Jordan. Five books in and fans were now well and truely hooked on this wonderful series. This book came out in October 1993 and as you can imagine was another massive seller as fans were eager to continue the story.
Not mentioned before but the Wheel of time books are published by Tor Books, they have done an excellent job with these so I thought I should throw in a mention.
This fifth book carries on from where the forth book, the shadow rising, left off. By this stage the story is all over the place, there are lots of different threads we are following, but they are all very tense and hanging in the balance.
So we pick up the story with Rand still in the Aiel waste. He is leading his own people (Aiel) after the Shaido Aiel who have crossed the spine of the world and are attacking Cairhien. The two Aiel must do battle here in one of the largest battles of the time. Matt is still with Rand at this point and he leads his own band of Aiel and becomes a great captain.
Nynaeve al'Meara and Elayne Trakand continue in there persuit of the Black Ajah leaving behind the battle at Toman Head. Yet again they have some trouble with the evil Forsaken.
This is another great book, lots going on and some real fast paced storylines. Again it can sometimes be difficult keeping up with all the threads but I found this one a little easier. I was not keen on the story about Randin the Aiel waste, didn't find it as exciting as some of the other books, is still very well told though and it is an important part of the story.
Robert Jordan has really perfected his art of story telling by this book. He uses all the same skills he has in the previous books and brings it all together very well. The books flows very well and keeps you interested all the way through. Everything that happens is very well described, you feel like you a really a part of the story and are living it.
Anyone who enjoys fantasy epics needs to read these books. Bear in mind you do need to read the other books for this one to make sense. The story is very complex and you can't just pick it up easily. Don't let this put you off though, it's well worth putting in the effort to read all of them! Enjoy this book as I did!
How on earth am I going to tell you about the fifth book in a massively complicated series without ruining the plots of the first four, and/or confusing you silly? Hmmm. Add to that trying to tell you something worth knowing, and I've drawn a bit of a short straw here. I'll do my best, but don't say I didn't warn you. Rand Al Thor is a many with DESTINY - not one he much likes the look of as it includes the probability of going mad and destroying the world. On the plus side, he might just have a shot at defeating the ultimate force for evil, but it's a logn shot at that. Raised as a farm boy, he's travelled about then world a bit, had several women fall for him and made a good number of enemies. He's one of the few men who can channel magic, and he's very powerful, but he's also a politically inexpereinced lad in his early twenties trying to deal with forces much older and more wiley than he. Book five sees him lead the Aiel (fierce warrriors from the desert) out into the nmore civilised countries - he plans to unite them, by conquering them if needs be. He's donig a good job of conquering cities and suduing lords, but there are some very unpelasant powerful people after him - the Forsaken, magic weilding followers of the dark one who have found themselves places of power. Most of them mean to kill him, one is trying to seduce him. Add to that a magic using Princes who means to marry him, an Aiel woman bent on keeping him to that rpomise, an Aes Sedia (magic user) trying to bully him into doing what she wants and the cont=stant threat of madness. The other plot line follows Elayne (afformentioned Princess) and Nynaeve - both training to be Aes Sedia, as they try to escape from Forsaken Moghedien - they travel with a menagerie, run into a legendary female archer, inadvertantly start a war and gradually make their way towards Salidar. Argh, another explanation. The Aes Sedia all used to belon
g in a palce called Tar Valon, precided over by the Amyrlin seat. The old Amyrlin seat has been prevented from doing any magic, the new one isn't very nice and half of the Aes Sedia have taken exile, in Salidar. Hope that helps. Ok, reading exerpeince. Firstly if you ahven't read the first four this is going to make no sense as a book, even armed with the above. Jordan builds each book on its predescesors, and he builds very strange indeed. You have to pay a lot of attention to keep up with what's going on. This is a very intense book, lots of action, some superb battle sequences, a few unexpected love affairs, some even less expected sudden deaths and some stunning conclusions. of course, it isn't over yet, and rand is going to have to survive a good few more books before he makes it to the last battle. Probably. If you've been reading, keep reading, this one is really good. If you haven't, find out about "The Eye of the World" and start there.
Fifth title in the Wheel of Time Series.