The Fires of Heaven: Book Five of The Wheel of Time
By Robert Jordan; Narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer
29 CD’s – 38 hours [UNABRIDGED]
Publisher: Audio Renaissance
Themes: / Fantasy / Epic Fantasy / Magic / Good and Evil / Demons / Dragons /
The fifth book in Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, The Fires of Heaven is one of the author’s better novels. As in all of his books in this series, this book is enjoyable because there is so much going on with the plot and numerous sub-plots. Jordan does a good job of keeping all of the smaller story lines relevant to the overarching theme of the final battle between good and evil that will culminate for Rand al’Thor and his companions in Tarman Gaidon. Jordan does a nice job of blending interesting concepts such as circular time with a compelling story line that includes humor, drama, suspense, romance and all the rest. What sets this book apart from the others in the series is the clever depiction of an epic battle between the Shaido clan of the Aiel and the mixture of warriors following Al’Thor. Once again, there are a lot of things going on among the principle characters in this battle, and Jordan manages to keep it all engaging and very exciting.
A criticism that I have of this book also applies to the other books in the series. The tension between the men and women in the stories is taken too far and beaten to death. It has become annoying to the listener at the point of this book, and begins to be more so in the subsequent novels. In some cases, as with Nynaeve Al’Maera, the character has become completely un-likeable. The characters would be more believable if they could evolve past this stuff or if Jordan could just not mention it so much.
Kate Reading and Michael Cramer work together to narrate the female and male perspectives. Since the books are so large and such big sections of it are told from one gender’s point of view at a time, it works well to keep the listener’s interest. There are also fewer of the awkward-sounding attempts at trying to depict a character of the opposite sex by altering the pitch of the voice.
Ms. Reading is always enjoyable to listen to. She is especially talented at enunciating clearly, yet sounds completely natural. Her classic voice is a pleasant match for the characters she portrays and she manages to subtly distinguish the social class and personality of her characters.
Overall, this is an enjoyable story and one of the best out of the ten volumes, as it moves along at a compelling pace with interesting things happening with the various characters. You won’t find particularly deep or moving scenes in this book, nor is Jordan a particularly picturesque writer, but he is a good story-teller. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes an adventurous story, and who is looking for something epic to listen to.