Final rating: 3.5 stars
This book has two very different parts which divide it exactly in the middle.
The first part: nothing at all happens. Yes, you read it right: the first 50% of the book make Crossroads of Twilight - which is considered the slowest Jordan's book - look like a non-stop action thriller. I just finished reading this one and cannot recall any event of some significance whatsoever.
The first chapter returns to POV of a lowly and completely irrelevant farmer who provided a ride to Rand and Mat in the first book of the series and promptly went to oblivion since then. Luckily (?) he is back with all his irrelevance, but we have to suffer several pages catching up on his back-story and current troubles with apple harvest. He meets Rand for a couple of minutes and a couple of words before going away - hopefully for good this time.
Most part of the book is taken by Mat and Perrin subplots and opposed to Rand and Egwene in the previous book. There were huge buildups for the former couple of characters which falsely led me to believe there will be explosive action throughout the whole book. Well, Mat spends his time thinking about the amount of lace to put on his coat; when he briefly thinks about making it pink - this is where it became clear that the joke overstayed its welcome.
As to Perrin: he still broods about not wanting a leadership role. He also has some problems with his wife, but unfortunately there is no marriage counseling in their world so he and the readers have to suffer. I forgot the last time Perrin did anything exciting and not saying his wife's name on every single line during his inner monologue.
To make a long story short, this was the first time ever I thought about abandoning the series - one book before the end of it, no less! Brandon Sanderson finally found his Jordan's vibe - unfortunately it came from the wrong part of the series.
I remember Robert Jordan said he planned only one more book in the series shortly before his death. Seeing it took Brandon Sanderson three large ones to do it I was sure Jordan would not be able to keep his promise. Now that I finished the second Sanderson's entry of the series I am sure the promise was quite realistic: the first half of this novel does not have any excuse for its existence and could be removed from the final edition without any loss whatsoever.
The second part starts with some very exciting and ultimately satisfying action from Mat. Unfortunately as soon as it stops, so does the plot movement. We have a lot of forgettable talks, meaningless movement of people, etc. After a while the action and excitement come back only to come to a screeching halt later. This whole part is one big roller-coaster of action and walking in circles. Come to think of it, the whole Mat's quest was underwhelming considering it took him two books to prepare for it. I also need to mention this book - number 13 of the series - was the first time I felt depressed while reading (Aviendha visions).
The final rating: 3 stars for the first half, slightly below 4 stars for the second half which gives 3.5 stars overall.
This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/842219/brandon-sanderson-out-jordan-robert-jordan