I'm finding it odd both how much I'm remembering now that I'm back in the setting so to speak, and how much I've forgotten. I really probably should have done a re-read, but I just honestly couldn't bring myself to drudge through some of the slower sections to revisit the good (or important, quite often not the same thing) stuff.
Also, coming back to it from a long absence, I'm realizing just how I feel about some of the characters (or at least their current storylines) compared to one another. For instance I really got into chapter 2, about Egwene in the White Tower, even while rolling eyes at some bits, while on the other hand I really found it hard to then proceed into chapter 3, because I just don't give as much of a damn about Aviendha and the Aiel in comparison.
Anyhow, Prologue first. I'm also realizing that as we're getting into this current almost-800-page brick monstrosity, I'm pretty much begrudging the existence of ANY new character that gets anything beyond a brief, passing, one-sentence mention or so. Setting moods and so on is one thing, but with as many damn characters that we have so far, and as much looking askance to try to figure out if a "new character" is a Forsaken in disguise/someone we've seen before/whatever... AARRRRGH! Just tie all the loose ends up already, stop introducing more people! (And if farmer-geezer turns out to be a new Someone, and not just a way to help show that even normal people are starting to realize that Tarmon Gaidon is coming and acting accordingly, I will be pissed.)
And wow, what an offhanded and quick way to wrap up the problem of the Prophet. This, at least, I can approve of. Even if it means seeing more Faile, because here she's actually tolerable. Probably because the appearance is so brief.
Also even in the Prologue it's apparent that Sanderson is doing a pretty good job in not really departing from Jordan's voice. He doesn't seem to be *copying* it exactly (very little sniffing or clothes description, for instance), but he's not stomping in and setting his own mark blatantly on things either. It feels... whole, rather than a jarring break between halves of the work. Nice.
Chapter one, we get to see more of Rand the Bland. Honestly, main character or not, I could go without him, at least until/unless he because an actual human being again. Not to mention a complete fucking idiot. I can see the not wanting to torture, and maybe even agree with it, but just execute the bitch already before she manages to break loose/become a problem, and don't expect your allies to get something from her in such hampered conditions. Stupid stupid stupid. Gah.
And when did Min become a simpering little milksop, again? I mean, I know it's been happening bit by bit but... blah.
And personally, I want to slap both Rand AND Cadsuane around in regards to their little power struggle. A lot. Repeatedly.
Chapter two though is a bit refreshing. Egwene in the Tower. She's handling herself very well, and has become very mature very quickly. (Is that enough "very"s in one sentence?) And now that she's drawn my attention to it, Elaida HAS changed a lot. I mean, I guess I realized it before, but it's becoming clear here just how completely and thoroughly it's been. I'm trying to think back and remember if maybe there's some way that she and Alviarin switched places, for instance. (Also, someone remind me, as of previous books, was Alviarin just Black Ajah, or actually Mesaana? I'm thinking the former, but not positive. And don't spoil for later in this one, please. :p Just trying to remember what I should already know.)
I'm finding it hopeful that Egwene is showing such signs of making progress, and also already thinking of ways to keep the Tower from fracturing further, and mending what's already been broken. A little more worrisome that she's thinking such thoughts of "counseling" Rand almost as if he's her puppet to manipulate. But in general, I'm pleased with this section.
Although it does make me roll my eyes to think of someone just so easily shoving aside such serious pain. Psssh.
And on to chapter 3, which made me sigh again. Honestly, I liked the Aiel at first, but trying to go too deeply into their whole "ji'e'toh" system makes them look like a bunch of children playing at being honorable warriors, or something. For fuck's sake, stop playing games and just tell Aviendha whatever she did wrong already, and get past it. And stop being such a little timid kitten and taking it, Aviendha. And also stop thinking of the world in such black and white strokes, or deciding just what you're going to do about Rand and Min without bringing their own opinions into the matter.
There also seems to still be some Jordan leaking through here (the book so far as a whole, not just the Prologue), which I guess is fair enough, since, y'know. Basically the idea that deep down, all women like pretty clothes and baths and jewelry and things even if they're hardened warriors, that they can only be strong individuals in charge of their own destiny until they get around Their Man, and the whole "a spanking! A spanking!" vibe.
Ah well, what can you do? That said, I'm not hating the book or anything, just finding some parts of it better than others, already. And kinda wishing that at almost 100 pages in, I had more than a teeny tiny mere fraction already read.