This is one of the slowest books of the series. Usually Mat saves the day even when nobody else does anything of value in a book, but this time Mat is not here
. This is especially infuriating considering that his plot line ended in a huge cliffhanger in the previous book. Perrin's absence in book 5 is hardly noticeable; Mat's absence here is, especially considering the slow-moving overall plot.
It would be unfair to say that nothing at all happens here. I counted four fairly major events in the book which to be fair is not that much for 500+ pages especially considering that readers expected two of them to happen for a really long time.
In the beginning of the book Elaine was struggling to keep a leadership role with her motley crew: Sea Folks, Aes Sedai, the Kin, and lovesick Nynaeve. The daughter-queen was constantly in the bad mood as a result, but this part was fairly amusing and this particular subplot contained two out of the four major events I mentioned above - both expected at least one book ago.
Egwene in rebel Aes Sedai camp continues manipulating others while trying not to be manipulated. What really bothers me about this whole situation is that everybody is so busy with these games that nobody cares to notice that one character really looks very suspicious and must be at least a Darkfriend (she actually happens to be a Forsaken). As it is, she keeps killing people right under everybody's noses without anybody paying attention. In contrast, the White Tower Aes Sedai actually created a secret group of Black Ajah hunters which developed its methods of detecting them and has its first catch. I found myself sympathizing with the White Tower in this issue - to my complete surprise.
Perrin starts the most annoying subplot of the series here. Fortunately the worst part of it comes in the last chapter which means we do not get to experience it here, it will drag on and on without moving anywhere in the next two books.
Rand slowly goes mad. He is also the most misunderstood character so far. He has to act alone for the most part which brings up arrogance in his dealings with people. His plot line happens to be the most exciting one with a lot of action.
This book is not bad by any means; at no point I was bored by it while reading. The problem with it is that after you finish the realization comes that not much happens here. I gave 3 stars to worse books; this one only gets such a low rating only because it is not up to the standards of the previous ones.
This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/775669/one-of-the-dreadful-slow-books-of-the-series