This post contains book-destroying SPOILERS for The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. If you got here by mistake, the non-spoiler post is here.
This is mostly for the record; fandom opinion seems rather uniform on these matters.
To wit: Verin: completely awesome. Egwene: awesome. Spanking every-damn-where: go away, Robert Jordan’s id! You are scary! Elaida: unfortunately silly in her villainy, and can we stop having only the female baddies be subjected to humilitating and degrading servitude as their just desserts? All the males get clean deaths or, at worst, to be Dashiva. Go away, etc.
In theory, standing alone, Semirhage’s breaking might make sense, though not at all that fast—but in context, I just can’t cope with it. Also that entire episode was unnecessary, as in, you could remove it and have no effect on the plot.
Regarding which plot: Rand, eeek. That was seriously disturbing. Not sure I found the resolution of that quite as effective as I would have liked, but if it’s really truly over as a plot element, then I will take it. (Except that I don’t know how the True Power will tie into this, if it was cause or effect or neither with his worsening here.) At most, little very short backslidings that he snaps out of on his own or when Min or Nynaeve point out what he’s doing? Please?
(One of the lines that jarred me: “You make her think that you are sitting down across the table from her, ready to play her game. Then you punch her in the face as hard as you can.” For some reason “punch” sounds out of place to me.)
Early consensus seems to be next book is Moiraine and the Black Tower (Towers of Midnight), which makes sense to me. I’m wondering how long the Seanchan issue will remain unresolved; I was actually pleased that it didn’t wrap up this book, it would have been just a little too neat.
Anyway. Good stuff.