After that i looked around at a couple different sites offering synopsis of the Wheel of Time books (which of course made a year's wait between books seem like penny ante) and finally settled on the Encyclopaedia WoT. This one seems to have about the balance between breadth and brevity that i prefer. (Another one i glanced at summed up an entire chapter as "Moiraine gives Rand and Mat a silver coin.")
I finished skimming thusly through the first two books over the weekend and am now a couple chapters into the Dragon Reborn. Still haven't decided at exactly what point i'll switch over to reading the full books, but at the latest it will probably be with the last book that Robert Jordan finished.