A quick warning – this post will contain some spoilers from the series, for any fans who are still reading the series and don’t want it to be ruined.
Book eleven of The Wheel of Time series came along like a breath of fresh air after reading Crossroads of Twilight. The tenth novel seemed to take me an age to read; it was long-winded, dull and not all that interesting to me, or to other readers, if Amazon reviews are anything to go by. Knife of Dreams, on the other hand, was an entirely different matter. I read it in just under two weeks, making it the quickest read Wheel of Time book to date for me. I just couldn’t put this one down; I read it any chance I got. Even on bus journeys I was completely lost in it, despite the fact that I normally can’t read two pages of book without feeling sick if I’m in a moving vehicle. If memory serves me well, it is the best book in the series to date in my opinion.
Every individual plot line moves along at a steady, enjoyable pace. I complained in my last blog post about The Wheel of Time that Jordan had a terrible habit of focusing on one character for too long at times. It was certainly the case for book ten, where certain characters seemed to be completely abandoned for parts of the novel. Knife of Dreams does a much better job of equally sharing out space in the novel between characters, and all of their stories are reaching the point when they become really, really interesting.
Rand’s story was probably the least interesting in the book for me, with the exception of the closing pages of it. Despite being the character that every story centres around, he’s given relatively little attention in this book. In a way I appreciate the fact that Jordan doesn’t give over the vast majority of his attention over to the Dragon Reborn. Too many authors focus too heavily on their main character, and neglect the other storylines, even if they are important. You can see Rand’s acceptance of his fate growing with each page. Gone is the innocent farm boy, and even the melodramatic martyr that he turned into when he first came to learn that he would face the dark side at Tarmon Gai’don. He’s hard, cool, collected and focused. He gets the job done, and no longer shirks away from the possibility of insanity. His relationship with Lews Therin is slowly moving from a battle of wills, to an ironic sort of partnership. I’m intrigued to see how the two of them will work together towards sealing a Seanchan deal.
Perrin has been a long standing favourite of mine throughout the series, and I love how his wolfish abilities add in an extra edge of description with the scent of emotions. It adds even more depth to characters, when added to facial expressions and body language. Perrin’s focus on rescuing his wife from the Shaido is borderline obsessive however. It would appear that he would let the world fall to ruin to save her from the clutches of the Aiel – romantic, but not an ideal sentiment for the coming days. Faile seems to handle the situation much better than her husband. She trusts that he will come, but she also isn’t willing to just sit around and wait. I was sad to see her relationship with Rolan end so abruptly, I would have liked to have seen how Perrin would have handled the situation. I was glad to see Aram killed though, he was an unnerving young man.
My opinions of Mat have changed significantly throughout the course of The Wheel of Time. I was less than fond of him in the beginning; I found him selfish, and his reaction around Aes Sedai somewhat cowardly. He is growing on me though, and I probably enjoyed his story the most this time around. Perhaps he has changed as a character, or perhaps I’m now just used to his ways, but Mat now appears to have rather endearing qualities, he’s becoming more and more likeable by the day. His relationship with Tuon seems comical on the surface in many ways, but the single chapter from her point of view reveals to readers that there is in fact a lot more depth to it. I still find it hard to believe that the gambling flirt that ran away from responsibility constantly is now a prince. Matrim Cauthon, a prince. Even though we had been warned it would come along eventually, it’s still unbelievable, even more so than Egwene Al’Vere being raised to Amyrlin Seat. And Moiraine possibly re-entering the story? I can hardly contain my excitement, I always enjoyed her as a character.
Egwene Al’Vere and the White Tower:
I always knew she would rise high in the series, from day one. Maybe never high enough to be made Amyrlin Seat, but I knew she would one day become a woman of great influence. Aside from Rand, she is the one member of the group that seems to almost have forgotten entirely where she came from. She only seems to remember the innkeeper’s daughter when she cleans dishes, or scrubs floors. Jordan has made her Aes Sedai to the core; I’m guessing that she would only be in her early twenties, yet she speaks and thinks like a woman who has been around a lot longer than that. I would prefer it if she reacted to some situations like Elayne or Aviendha would – like a normal young woman of her age. Still, she is one of my favourite characters in the series, and I want her to be successful over Elaida.
I’ll admit there are times when her chapters make little sense to me, because they focus so heavily on political relations. Politics have never been my strong point, they bore me in real life and in fiction, and I lose focus reading about them. I’m glad to see her successful in becoming Queen of Andor though. And I’m curious to see how her pregnancy will affect her in the coming days. Will she be present at Tarmon Gai’don, or will be she be back in Caemlyn with her children?
I approached this book hoping that it would be better than the previous one, and fully aware that it was the last one in the series fully written by Robert Jordan himself. He exceeded my every expectation, doing a great job with this one, and ensuring that he went out in style. He has set up so many exciting storylines for the coming days. There are so many things foretold that are yet to come true, and one thing I’m really curious to see is how each individual develops a relationship with the fascinating Seanchan. This series just gets better and better, and I can’t wait to see what the next three books bring.