Spoiler Check: I have completed Book 9 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series – “Winter’s Heart”
Chapter 26 of Winter’s Heart lasts a tad over 37 minutes as narrated by Kate Reading on Audible. That’s quite long enough to forget the chapter number. So when, at its conclusion, Michael Kramer (who narrates the male-oriented chapters) announced the start of Chapter 28, the absence of the merest vestige of a Chapter 27 completely failed to register.
Mistakes can happen in the editing room, but for Audible to miss out a complete chapter from any book, let alone a title in a long-running popular fantasy series, strikes me as a pretty major blunder.
Nevertheless, I can understand why it may have gone unnoticed and uncorrected for a long time. As I explained above, listeners do not in general keep careful track of chapter numbers. And in this case, the missing chapter did not break the flow of the narrative. Wheel of Time books tend to switch between plot threads every few chapters, giving rise to the odd cliffhanger along the way. If at the end of one chapter we leave Elayne Trakand, Daughter-Heir of Andor and Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah, on the point of leaving Caemlyn to parley with the Borderland Rulers, then find the narrative switches to Mat Cauthon plotting to escape Ebou Dar at the start of the next chapter, it is not obvious that we have been deprived of an intervening chapter describing Elayne’s encounter with the said Borderland Kings and Queens at their armies’ encampment in Braem Wood. As the book does not then at any point revisit the Elayne plotline, it is quite conceivable that readers (listeneners) will finish the book none the wiser.
It was only around chapter 30 or 31 that I realised I had missed a chunk of the book, and then only because I have got into the habit of dipping into Wheel of Time fan-site Encyclopaedia-WoT every few chapters to read the chapter summaries and notes, to pick up on interesting observations and cross-references. I found myself reading the summary of Chapter 27 which covered events I was certain I could not recall reading in the audiobook. I went back to the audiobook to make absolutely sure I had not skipped past Chapter 27 by mistake.
I have alerted Audible and am waiting to find out what they plan to do about it. In the meantime I spent the princely sum of $8.20 on the Kindle edition of the book, just to read the missing chapter. I could not have left it unread, even if it hadn’t been as critical a chapter plot-wise, and I do want to press on with the series.