The prophesies of the Dragon Reborn must be fulfilled, including the one about the sword which is not a sword. The Dark One still hunts three boys from the Two Rivers in their dreams and in reality. The aftermath of the events in the end of the previous book sends disturbance waves throughout the whole land.
Unlike the previous book, this one has Rand's POV for about 10 pages total; now it is his turn to take a backseat for Perrin and Mat as well as wonder girls (Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elaine). Mat finally gets his own POV and it quickly becomes one of the most interesting in the book and stays that way throughout the series consistently - there is a reason why his name often pops up in the lists of the best fantasy characters ever. Have you ever wondered while playing an RPG game - computer or pen-and-paper - what it means when you get an artifact with luck +1? Read Mat's parts of the book to find out.
Perrin's plot line is interesting, but not too big here. He also gets to meet the most annoying character in the series later on. The most intriguing part is to see how Min's obscure predictions about him come to life.
The wonder girls come back to Tar Valon to continue their interrupted training. It turns out, the White Tower where the training takes place is extremely dangerous place; from my personal impression I would feel much safer in the Great Blight (the stronghold of the bad guys). As a result, the girls' training became much lesser priority for them then to stay alive.
This book is considered by many to be the classic of genre (along with two previous and two following ones) and is a must-read for any fantasy fan; 5 solid stars.