Saturday, April 20, 2013

Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

Knife of Dreams is the 11th book of the Wheel of Time and the last book in the series that Robert Jordan was able to complete before his premature death.

By the time Jordan started writing this he had been diagnosed with the disease that did eventually claim his life and had to face the reality that he may not be able to complete the series.

I think this prompted him to take a look at where the series was going, and come to the conclusion after looking through Crossroads of Twilight that the answer was: nowhere.

I hoped Knife of Dreams would be better than Crossroads of Twilight, it couldn't possibly be worse, could it?

The prologue, while still being overlong as had become customary with the books, contained more story development than the entire 700+ page book that proceeded it.

Knife of Dreams tightened the whole story up, started to conclude story lines (Faile was finally rescued) and showed signs of eventually reuniting all the characters for a big finale.

It suffers, as does most of the Wheel of Time, from Jordan's excesses and repetition (there's an unusual preoccupation with spanking. It could have almost been retitled Fifty Shades of Wheel of Time) as well as his delight in really hurting his characters without actually killing them.

I started to see some of the fan delight with Egwene, although she only has a section of the prologue and one really long chapter she rocks it. Conversely Elayne turned into the most ineffectual and tedious ruler in the history of epic fantasy.

Mat alternates between taking charge and being SuperMat, to being Tuon's play thing. She even continually and very annoyingly refers to him as Toy. This was hard enough to deal with when she was talking to him, but when one chapter took her PoV it was downright confusing. Would it have killed her to at least use his name when she's thinking about him, rather than addressing him?

I'd been hearing things about Rand's hand (that wasn't meant to sound as stupid as it does), but I didn't know where he actually lost it. This is it. Jordan has a habit of emphasising the small things and glossing over the big ones. I nearly missed the loss of the hand. Loial got married somewhere along the line and I missed that too. The Ogier take an age to make a decision, but they appear to favour shotgun weddings. Odd.

Overall this was an improvement on Crossroads of Twilight and sets it up well for the final three books which were written by Brandon Sanderson, working from extensive notes left by Robert Jordan.

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