I'm conflicted about this book. I am truly enjoying the series and this is a solid entry that does provide significant character development, especially for Rand and Egwene. I've certainly started to like Egwene much more than I have leading up to this point. That being said, there is almost know actual plot development in terms of actual events. This book is a perfect example of what makes this series unnecessarily long. It should be condensable with several of the books surrounding it, allowing some of the character development without skimping on the actual events, though I admit that this would be difficult. All told I think this book is strong entry that is difficult to understand without an understanding of the rest of the series.