Spoiler Check: I have completed the Wheel of Time series up to Towers of Midnight inclusive
Almost any fan, however fervent, of Robert Jordan’s (and now Brandon Sanderson’s) mammoth Wheel of Time series will admit that the standard starts to drop about half way through, the pace dropping and the narrative getting mired in drawn-out subplots. I have been re-reading the series in preparation for the release of the final book, A Memory of Light, early next year and reckon I have a pretty good handle on exactly where the rot sets in.
Every book up to Book 6, Lord of Chaos, is a great read. Book 7, A Crown of Swords, is however the first book where the peripheral story arcs noticeably slow the pace and it all starts to drag. It is not though as if Lord of Chaos is free of responsibility; it is a long book and within its chapters can be found the seeds of bloat and narrative diversion. We don’t notice that too much because the book is well sustained and the rousing battle at Dumai’s Wells provides a memorable finale. On the other hand there is less to redeem A Crown of Swords and too much of it is mired in the search for the Bowl of Winds at Ebou Dar, the introduction of the Kin, Perrin setting off on his own tedious odyssey into Ghealdan, Faile’s jealousy towards Berelain, the Cha Faile and a myriad other annoyances.
From memory, the series is a bit up and down after that. The Path of Daggers comes in for a lot of criticism but I found it snappier than A Crown of Swords. Winter’s Heart is better again but the series reaches its nadir with Crossroads of Twilight. Literally nothing worthy of note happens in that book. Knife of Dreams is markedly better, then Brandon Sanderson steps in to deliver the excellent The Gathering Storm. Sadly the standard drops off again with Towers of Midnight.
A Memory of Light, currently going through a prolonged editing process, had better be worth it.