The first thing you notice about this book is that the story moves along at a much quicker rate than in the previous three or so books. There's a lot more happening. There's more meaning dialogue rather than pointless narrative.
This is the first time in a long time that I finished a lengthy book at one long stretch. The book is much fast paced than preceeding books, perhaps the fastest paced in the entire series. The books have been sorely missing in action for the past 3 or 4 books. The quick pacing allows for a lot of action to be crammed between pages, and Brandon Sanderson has duly obliged.
The character-building has moved up another notch here, especially with the handling of formerly annoying characters such as Nynaeve and Egwene. Nynaeve is far less temperamental and more likely to view problems in the light of possible solutions. Egwene has moved many steps up, and is finally showing signs of the great character she was threatening to be since book 1.
Overall, this is one of the best books in the series. The action, pacing, and character-building are all in perfect sync, providing a mixture of a vivid and highly pulsating read. Good job Sanderson!