Every person who has even a passing interest in fantasy knows The Wheel of Time series gets slow in the middle. So are we there yet? No, but things do slow down somewhat. Is it still a good read? Most definitely, yes!
The book starts with Perrin being a lovesick puppy for about one fourth of the book. Exciting events happen around him which is no wonder considering what happened in the end of the previous book and the fact that this one starts right where the former left, but Perrin's POV makes this read somewhat slow. He later improves, but at the same time the most annoying subplot of the series starts (it is not so here yet), and I find it hard to be excited.
Rand is being Rand: he is fine in the book even if a little arrogant which is justifiable considering his role, but he overdoes it at times. He broods a lot, but gets to meet interesting people (and kill some of them). Min looks like a really good and suitable girl for him.
Now I really need to contain myself before I start sounding like an annoying fanboy. Mat's POV easily deserves 6 stars. Yes, this is not a typo and this is really this good. Not only it is always exciting and never boring, it is quite often very funny. Chapter 28 "Bread and Cheese" has got to be the funniest one in the whole series - at least in the part of it written by Jordan himself. His plot line ends in a huge cliffhanger, so beware.
Mat's presence makes Nynaeve look interesting; I guess his awesomeness rubs on her. She actually has several interesting things going on for her; this comes as no surprise when there is a pissed-off Forsaken hell-bent on personal vendetta going against her. Sadly Elaine remains as annoying as in the last book, if not more so. Aviendha does not do much, but has a whole chapter with her POV; it turns out she has a very refreshing and unusual outlook on the events. Considering the fact that she spent her whole life in a desert with practically no water and now she ended up in a city strongly resembling our own Venice, this is expected.
Egwene schemes like a pro; her situation makes it necessary to keep independence in a viper pit which is a gathering of Aes Sedai, but for now her long-term goals are not the ones I care much for.
All in all, there are some slow moments in the book, but Mat more than makes up for them; practically everybody except for Perrin and Elaine have their own moment of brilliance. I also realized that the bad guys/girls POVs are never boring: there are quite a few of those in the book.
This review is a copy/paste of my BookLikes one: http://gene.booklikes.com/post/766833/it-is-not-the-slowest-book-of-the-series-but-it-is-not-as-exciting-as-first-six-either