Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan

A Crown of Swords could have also been subtitled Searching for a Bowl, because that’s really what this one was about, although the ‘bowl searchers’ (Nynaeve, Elayne, Mat and peripherally Aviendha) don’t show up until about a third of the way in.

Jordan continues to belabour points that he may have somehow not hammered into readers heads yet, and he seems obsessed with interior design. I do wonder if he was a frustrated home renovator.  I’ve largely lost interest in Rand by this stage. He gets to spend some quality time with Min, but most of the time he’s wondering if he’s going mad or not. I think the erratic and irrational behaviour exhibited by him nearly always points to the answer being yes. On the bright side legendary Aes Sedai Cadsuane turns up and if nothing else she’ll provide entertainment going forward, as she seems to think spanking Rand (actually spanking anyone judging by the way she talks) will be the answer to all his problems. Yes, at 7 books in, it is all getting a bit silly at times. A lot of fans are irritated by Cadsuane. I kind of like her. She does come across a bit like an older Nynaeve, so this may be why.

Egwene’s story is largely set at the ‘little tower’ which is on the move. It’s a lot of political posturing, and only seems to be included for the return of Lan to the story. At some stage she’ll have to have a showdown with the White Tower, but why inject some excitement into this instalment when there are so many periopheral issues to concentrate on, like her adolescent sexual fantasies about Elayne’s older brother Gawyn.

Oh, I nearly forgot Perrin. That is entirely understandable I feel. He’s there early, worries needlessly about Faile, sniffs a few things, then wanders off to do something else. I assume we’ll find out what in the next book.

The best bit of the book, as always seems to be for me, involves Nynaeve, Elayne and Mat. The story comes alive when these characters are in it. Their dialog is quite often snappy and funny and makes sense. They do things, things happen to them and around them. Admittedly the idea of the Bowl of Winds is quite silly (so the weather’s off because of a bowl hidden in a warehouse in Ebou Dar, oookay then), but the journey they take through Ebou Dar to get there is interesting. They uncover a bunch of wilders, face down some other Aes Sedai, it just moves when they’re front and centre. Honestly if Jordan had made then the central characters and forgotten all about Rand I would have been much happier. The books would have also been a lot shorter and better for it. I didn’t even groan when Aviendha appeared, maybe this was because she slapped Elayne down.  I’m with Mat: the ‘goat kissing’ Daughter Heir needs to be put in her place every so often.

Bowl of the Winds, aside the author made another odd decision regarding Mat. He is all but raped by a ruler called Tylin, and it was played for laughs. Weird and not particularly funny.

The pacing was a bit off. One moment I remember clearly from the first time I read this was that Mat’s story ended with him running all over Ebou Dar as it was being invaded by the Seanchan, looking for Olver and then the dice in his head that roll when his luck is in stop dead. Now that is a great ending. That is what those who write cliffhanger endings dram about. Those who like reading them want to read this sort of heart in mouth, what happens next ending. Perfect place to end the book. Yet we have a few more dreary chapters of Rand facing off against Sammael and a bunch of trollocs. Why is it that hes the Dragon Reborn when he’s showing off for the likes of Cadsuane, but when faced with what is form him now a fairly mundane threat like trollocs he winds up in mortal danger? Cadsuane had to pull him out of this one and I wouldn’t blame her if she did decide to spank him.

From memory Book 8 The Path of Daggers is pretty dire and it doesn’t contain the answer to the question that everyone was asking after reading A Crown Of Swords, what happened to Mat? I will however push on and hope that my memory is playing me false here.   

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