Before I start my review, there is something I really need to get off my chest. GAWYN TRAKAND IS A COMPLETE IDIOT WHO HAS A DUBIOUS DISTINCTION OF BEING THE MOST IDIOTIC GOOD GUY IN THE HISTORY OF FANTASY, OR LITERATURE IN GENERAL. Sorry, I had to do it; now back to the review.
It is hard to say anything about the fourth book in a series without giving huge spoilers. I will just give my thoughts about the major characters, their development, and plot-lines.
Mat slowly becomes the most interesting character in the series and will stay that way until the last book written by Jordan. The events in this book shaped his further development and personality.
Perrin has the most tragic and heroic plot-line in the book. His love to Faile is full of touching moments. I am also very sorry to say that this is the last book where he is not boring and Faile is not extremely annoying.
Nynaeve while being Nynaeve, still has her moment of glory in the book which made me feel a lot of respect for her: she alone went head-to-head with one of the Forsaken - Moghedein - and lived to tell the tale
; a very impressive feat.
Rand's development is interesting, but somewhat overshadowed by the other characters. I really need to mention that the history of Aiel which he sees in flashbacks going back in time is one of the most powerful moments of the series, if not the most powerful.
Speaking of Aiel, their culture is unique and fascinating; this book gives a lot of insight into it. It is very interesting to see fearsome present-day desert warriors knowing their humble beginning.
One more note: I already mentioned that the White Tower while supposedly the safest place in the land (what can go wrong in the middle of a large number of magic users who can do no evil?), is actually more dangerous than the Blight - the stronghold of the Big Bad Guy. This novel clearly shows it.
The book is one of the best examples of classic fantasy, and deservedly so. The only reason I would lower the rating was the character of Gawyn whom I already mentioned, but he alone cannot spoil an otherwise excellent installment of the series.