I definitely agree with the first part, I feel like the main problem with WoT is that, as I imagine it, a book has a certain volume, geometrically. Jordan expanded so wide that in order for that volume to stay the same, it's a wide rectangle (where vertical = plot, horizontal = depth, plotlines) instead of a square.
Ignoring my random analogy, I completely agree with you on the other part. I've always been interested in Shara especially. I was actually just checking something out on the Land of Madmen, and interestingly enough, the WoT planet is round, meaning that I think if you sail east from Seanchan, you get to Shara. I wonder if they've made contact.
A Song of Fire and Ice is a good series, my only thing with it (I haven't gotten the 5th book yet, was actually planning to go to Borders this week since it's 20% off there) is that the books get less interesting as they go; the first is excellent, the second is good, the third is better than the second, and then the fourth is eh. You'll love A Game of Thrones though.
I've read Terry Goodkind, I used to like that series when I was younger, but as I got older, I realized that he essentially had a tea partyist agenda which kinda turned me off.