Feb 16 2010 12:17pm

The Fires of Heaven eBook now available

Oh, hey! Fancy meeting you here.

So it turns out that Tor is re-releasing the Wheel of Time series as eBooks, avec brand-new and (thus far) smashingly brilliant cover art, and since they’re under this crazy impression that I may have some tiny amount of experience talking about the Wheel of Time, they asked me to introduce one.

And I said, “Bring it”, and lo, it hath been broughten, as I am here today to tell you all about the fifth book in the series, The Fires of Heaven, now available to you in shiny 21st century eBook formation. Sweet!

And if you’ll click the link, I’ll tell you why this is a good thing. Be warned that there are major spoilers for the book underneath, so if you haven’t read it, now would be a good time to buy it, read it, and then come back and be dazzled by my verbosity. Or, you know, whatever.

So, without further ado, the Fifth, I give you.

The Fires of Heaven is not my favorite Wheel of Time book—that would be A Crown of Swords—nor is it what I feel is the best-written (so far) Wheel of Time book—that would be The Shadow Rising. (The intro for which was snagged by that punk Jason Denzel, like he knows anything about the Wheel of Time, hmph.)

But all that is of course a purely subjective evaluation, which does nothing to take away the fact that The Fires of Heaven (henceforth abbreviated “TFOH”) is an all-around fabulous book that was in every way a worthy successor to the total awesomeness that was The Shadow Rising, and which I enjoyed immensely, both on first reading and on every subsequent re-read.

TFOH was in a lot of ways a sea-change for the series, for a number of reasons. For one, it was the first installment in which one of the three main protagonists—Perrin—did not appear. Concurrently, it was where a number of other, formerly more secondary characters stepped up and became major forces in the narrative; some for the Light, like Siuan Sanche, Gareth Bryne, and Birgitte, but more significant was the emergence of the villains into the limelight—by which I mean the Forsaken.

Though the Forsaken were of course always there in the first four books, other than Ishamael and Lanfear they had largely remained shadowy background figures, whose influence on events had mostly only been presented to us at a remove. TFOH is the first book where we really begin to see them acting directly (well, as directly as a bunch of devious scheming evil people can, anyway) to affect the course of the story, and it distinctly altered the way the story flowed as a whole.

In general what we see in TFOH, therefore, is a broadening and a deepening of WOT, in all aspects: in the worldbuilding, in the characters, in the plotting (literally and figuratively, heh), and just in the sheer scope of the story. Political intrigue, massive battle scenes, and moments of shocking revelation abound. Not that WOT didn’t have these things before, but TFOH had More Bigger ones, and was chock full of Moments of Awesome to boot.

Mat being outed as a military genius to Lan and Rand, for instance, is one of my favorite scenes in the entire series, and that’s not even mentioning the Battle of Cairhien itself which follows. And then there’s Nynaeve, who became one of my favorite characters as a result of this book, because firstly she is HILARIOUS, and secondly has yet another Moment of Awesome vis à vis Moghedien—and then Rahvin a chapter later! And lest we forget, TFOH is also the first book in the series in which there is finally some resolution on—well, I’m just gonna say “The Far Snows”, and leave it at that. (FINALLY)

TFOH also, in my estimation, is where the Wheel of Time really took on what is now one of its most defining characteristics as a series—which is, of course, its status as one of sf fandom’s richest sources of Looney-Theory-Spawning Mysteries. Exemplified, naturally, by the murder of Asmodean—which WOT fans are still fighting about, seventeen years later.

I mean, seriously; in a very real way (and here’s some ancient Internet history for you), TFOH was the reason the Robert Jordan newsgroup was created to split off from the original rec.arts.sf.written group on Usenet, because so many people would not shut up about TFOH after its release that it eventually warranted the creation of an entirely separate forum. Which may seem like an obvious and non-controversial move now, but at the time the idea of having a whole newsgroup dedicated solely to one series/author was Not Done, and thus A Big Deal. Ah, the olden days.

And of course, no discussion of TFOH is complete without mentioning how it contains one of the most shocking plot developments in the whole series: namely, the death of Moiraine.

I should say, the “death” of Moiraine, because as we all know, she is far too awesome a Gandalf character to stay dead. But even though none of the fandom doubts that Moiraine will be back, her blaze-of-glory exit was nonetheless jaw-dropping, in more ways than one, and done in a way that was a perfect tribute to her character. In short, A Crowning Moment of Awesome if there ever was one.

It is fitting, therefore, that she is the character chosen to grace the cover of the eBook version of The Fires of Heaven. “Grace” being the operative word, thanks to the talented brush of artist Dan Dos Santos, whose depiction of Moiraine grows on me more and more every time I look at it, capturing as it does the strength, regal bearing, and essential aura of mystery that made her such a wonderful character. (Plus, I LOVE that blue.) Perfect choice, if you ask me.

I’m also very tickled that I get to intro the first eBook with a female character on the cover, which strikes me as very fitting, all things considered. Here’s hoping this isn’t the last one.

So, in conclusion, yay.

And that’s all I gots to say about that, campers! Go ye forth, therefore, and download ye an eBook of awesomeness, if that be your wont. And if it ain’t your wont, why did you read down this far, eh? Scoot!

Leigh Butler is a writer and blogger for Tor.com, which isn’t even close to the weirdest job she’s ever had, where she pontificates mightily upon the Re-read of the Wheel of Time series, currently on Book Seven, A Crown of Swords. She lives in New York City, but nevertheless invites you to laissez le bon temps roulez, y'all.

Mo -
1. Astus
Is there a place where I can view the nice coverart? Definitely a nice alternative to the fugly original cover. Oh, you make everything sound so alluring Leigh. I swear, I hate carrots but you could convince me that they're the best. Haha.
TFOH was definitely one of my favourite books, loved the scene with Lanfear. Really felt chills run up my spine when she came out after destroying the caravan. Of course it was made even more awesome by Moiraine's awesome moment.
Thomas Keith
2. insectoid
Why did I read? Because I always find your thoughts entertaining, Leigh! :)

Astus @1: There is a discussion of the cover art by Irene Gallo here, and a high-res version of the painting on Dragonmount here. Glad I could help.

Rob Munnelly
3. RobMRobM
Leigh - you also forgot the scariest concept in all WoT: torture using figs and mice. TFOH c. 10, if you dare....

Rob Munnelly
4. RobMRobM
By the way, Leigh, we're still waiting for the explanation of how ACOS possibly can be your favorite WoT book -as noted in the text above. Has some very nice bits (Morning of Victory, Swovan Night, Mashiara among them and Mat is certainly in rare form throughout) but way too much dreck (i.e., see the two chapters you covered on Friday). Will, of course, suspend disbelief pending your explanation/argument/justification.

Still waiting....

Jason Denzel
5. JasonDenzel
For as much fanboy crush as I have on the endings to LoC and WH, at the end of the day I usually put my money on this book having the best ending. People die! People are reborn (err..sorta)! Flesh-walking in T'A'R! Nynaeve!!!!!

Go RJ. :)
Tricia Irish
6. Tektonica
I'll read anything you write! You're even making me appreciate ACOS!

Love the cover art....could we please have new covers for our hardbacks with these nifty new jackets? Please.
Marcus W
7. toryx
My memory of Fires of Heaven is always somewhat diminished by my initial experience reading it a year or two after The Shadow Rising was released. TSR is my favorite of the WoT books and because of that, FoH was a bit of a letdown initially.

On re-reads, however, I'm always surprised at just how good FoH is. On it's own it's a fantastic book with a number of tremendous events, something I can appreciate with every re-read.
Jane Greenville
8. JaneGreenville
Finally! Well, I'm ready for it, looking forward!
Juan Avila
9. Cumadrin
i'm here cause i love the cover art and enjoy your posts, leigh, pretty much.

after my latest re-read i've been agreeing with you as well in thinking aCoS is my favorite book. it's very hard to explain, though, but i guess it most has to do with Mat and Ebou Dar, which is an arc i thoroughly enjoyed.

but this is about tFoH, which has always been one of my favorites. in general you could say my liking for the books consists of 3 ranks, with the top containing 4-7 as well as 9 and 11, the middle consisting of 1-3, 10 and 12, and the bottom consisting of tPoD by itself. *snicker*

your assessment of tFoH rings very true, but in particular i find myself chuckling and nodding about Nynaeve. all the awesome contained within the covers of the book aside, i appreciate it especially as almost the sole reason (until WH) for my liking her. until this book she was almost a toss-up as far as my opinion of her went, but here she firmly moved into positive standing, probably because i finally got to understand how human she really is being in her head, and thus allowing me to sympathize and not hold her annoying traits against her as much.

in fact, i think something like that with Nynaeve, but regarding the rest of the main cast, is why i like the particular books i do foremost, compared to the others. it makes a lot more rational sense and just struck me while writing this. so thanks a bunch, leigh!.
Tess Laird
10. thewindrose
And if it ain’t your wont, why did you read down this far, eh? Scoot!

I think I may speak for some of the re-read crowd - we take our Butler-call any way we can;)

Oh, and I am with RobMRobM, what could that most awesome of moments be for Leigh in aCoS??

11. ctkierst
Note that the Sony store is selling to the USA only (this isn't clear from their web site), and neither BooksOnBoard nor Kobo Books have it listed yet. Bah!
12. nevertaken
Why not in Canada? The Kindle editions of The Dragon Reborn and Shadow Rising were both made available in Canada on their 'new' release dates in December and January.
But not The Fires of Heaven. I don't get it. Just when I was really getting into these books; I don't know that I want to go back to paper!!
Bonnie Andrews
13. misfortuona
Leigh MOA. Thanks

Absolutly read em anyway you can get em

14. UK Chris
I totally agree that this book is a turning point in the series, but I think for slightly different reasons. I agree it's all about the Foresaken, but I think the change here is that the Evil Plot isn't Foiled by the Scooby Gang at the end. I mean one is, but you realize they are up to so much more. All the other books end in a way that really feel like an End rather than a dramatic moment that keeps going into the next book.
Paul Howard
15. DrakBibliophile
I found some UK sites that have it.

See: http://ebooks.addall.com/Search/RefineEbooks.fcgi?id=100217073227877721
Mo -
16. Astus
Thanks insectoid! Much appreciated :)
18. ctkierst
Note that the W. H. Smith (UK) won't sell it to Canada due to geographic restrictions. The UK BooksOnBoard site listed by your link has no formats listed for the title, but the Waterstones.com UK let me buy it. This has been a real annoyance to find a copy! The only other place I could have bought it was selling a MobiPockets version, which I can't use on my Mac. :P

P.S. The Waterstones version doesn't have the spiffy new cover. I am quite irritated now...
20. Anthony Murphy
Can anyone tell me why the e-book versions of this series don't seem to have table of contents tabs? I was overjoyed to buy the first, my 20 year-old hardback is sadly worn, but when I went to the menu so I could skip to my favorite part, the introduction of Loial, I found out there was no chapter break function. What gives? New covers, chapter icons included, but no table of contents tab, that takes away one of the major joys of rereading WoT. Being able to jump right to chapter such and such so you can cite chapter and verse when arguing theories online.

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