A friend of mine is currently reading the Wheel of Time for the first time. He loves it. That's good. However, because he's buying all of the books as Kindle books from Amazon, he's getting access to the reviews of the books as he buys them, which is a fascinating scenario.
Often if I'm 10 books into a series, I'm reading along as the author is writing the books. I'm totally invested. I'm sitting around on the edge of my seat waiting for months (or years) at a time, waiting for the next book to come out. I would never consider buying, say, the next Dresden book based on the review.
My friend isn't doing this. He's invested. Still, when he went to buy Crossroads of Twilight, he noticed with some alarm that the book only has 2 stars. This is quite out of the ordinary for a Wheel of Time book, most of them are 4+ (a couple are 3-3.5) but 2? That's the sort of review you'd expect for a really terrible book.
That I suppose begs the question... is it terrible?
When I first read the Wheel of Time, I hated this book. I read book 9. Big things happen. Then, book 10 comes along and hardly anything happened. Then I had to wait two years (because, Robert Jordan was incredibly ill at this point) since it took him a long time to write Knife of Dreams. Knife of Dreams was undoubtedly a better book. But despite hating Crossroads... I don't think it's a bad book.
This is encouraging for me. Robert Jordan is an incredibly talented and famous author. He has a really terrible review for a book in the middle of his series. He has more books after this. He would have written many more books had he continued living. It's a good reminder that not every book is well received, and not every bad review is because a book is bad.
And, sometimes bad reviews are pretty hilarious.
By Ian Marquis on May 14, 2005
Caller: "Well, see, I have this problem with my tea..."
P: "Which variety of tea are you having the problem with?"
C: "Bigelow Blueberry Blast."
P: "Alright...what seems to be the problem?"
C: "See, there was this one batch of tea I brewed for myself one morning. I brewed it into a gleaming silver pitcher with a matching silver ropework tray and a set of three silver cups, each with its own saucer that was engraved around the perimeter with tiny flowers. I had bought the set in Saldea. Oh, the Sea-folk porcelain is wonderful, but I'm prone to breaking it. Anyway, I poured myself a cup of tea. There were piping hot scones in a silver bowl on the tray next to the tray that held the tea. The basket was covered with a white embroidered cloth slashed with blue silk, much like my dress. Oh, the neckline is a bit too low-cut for some of my acquaintances, who prefer good stout woolens to that Arad Domai silk that clings to the body in such a way as to leave very little to the imagination. So, as I was eating a scone and drinking my cup of tea, the steam from each rising and intertwining together like dueling serpents, I noticed a peculiar taste in the tea: it was cool and refreshing, with a hint of mint. Of course, I thought nothing of it. Giving my earlobe a tug and my braid a pull, I remembered the idiocy of every one of my male friends, indeed every male I have ever come into contact with, or ever will for that matter. The lot of woolheads can never compete with the superior logic and rock-solid reasoning that every female in the known universe possesses. It's no wonder we all behave the same."
P: "Um...what was your problem with the tea?"
C: "Oh yes, I'm sorry. After I had consumed the tea, I placed the cup on the silver ropework tray and covered the gleaming silver basket of scones again with the white embroidered cloth slashed with bands of blue silk, much like my dress. I remembered the stout man in the streets of Tar Valon: a vendor of sausages he was. Though I know I will never see him again, I felt it necessary to familiarize myself with every aspect of his appearance and personal history. He was a short, stout man with black hair that was beginning to grey at the temples, slicked back on his head in the manner of warriors, though it was obvious he was not one. He wore brown shoes of stained leather that rustled softly against the dirt of the streets, kicking up clouds of dust that lingered in the air even after he had passed. His pants were of stiff wool, dyed green and patched in many places. He wore a leather jerkin over a soiled white peasant's shirt, the cuffs of his sleeves rolled up and out of his way. Around his neck was a silver chain with a medallion attached to it that bore the image of a bear. He spoke with a gruff voice..."
P: "The TEA, ma'am."
C: "Well you don't have to be rude about it. I was only filling you in on the relevant details."
P: "I don't have all day, ma'am."
C: "You do remind me of a lad I once knew, back when I used to frequent the palace in Camelyn..."
P: "Look, we'll send you a case of Blueberry tea, alright?"
C: "Oh...alright then, I suppose that will do nicely."
P: "Do you have any other problems?"
C: "Well, there is this one other problem I have, but it's not with your tea. The other day, I was pouring myself a goblet of spiced wine. Only the wine had grown cold after being left on the windowsill for whatever reason. So I siezed hold of saidar. It was pure rapture...like opening all of my petals to the sun, for I am a flower. It was like floating in a river that tore along with great speed: resist it and you would be consumed by it. So I accepted it and was consumed by the sweet joy. I sent a tiny thread of fire into the pitcher to warm the wine. Soon, steam rose from the pitcher of gold, sunlight rebounding on the inset gems. I removed the pitcher from the stark Cairheinien plinth of the finest marble and poured myself a glass. But the use of saidar had turned the spices bitter..."
C: "Hello? Hello? Wool-headed sheep-herder..."