The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.
Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?
Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?
Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?
Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumor, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…
Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn…. – Goodreads
Jordan made an excellent choice for this book by pulling away from Rand and giving other characters room to fully flesh out their stories. The biggest surprise, for me, in this volume was having Matt’s story pull a 180 and become really interesting. I like how each of the three main boys is developing his own magic/distinct story and that Matt and Perrin aren’t important simply because of their connection to Rand. The distinct way that each boy is reacting to their destiny is a good addition as well. Matt becoming very cocky, very quickly with his powers is really in character for him and a good counterpart to Rand and Perrin who are much more hesitant/reluctant/against theirs.
The same can be said of the female characters, as well. I like how the female characters don’t have interpersonal problems that revolve completely around a man. Their characterizations and other relationships are independent of Rand, which makes their stories as interesting to follow as any of the male characters.
I also like how Tom keeps getting brought back in. One of the things that really sets this series apart from other epic fantasy is how realistic/reasonable everyone acts. For instance, that Tom didn’t immediately rush off to “recuse” Morgase upon hearing that she may be in trouble, an act that would have been out of character for him and made no sense as being necessary based on what we know about the queen herself.
Jordan’s attention to detail for each major character makes this entry in the series a joy to read, regardless of whose chapter you are on.