Knife of Dreams

November 14th, 2005
This entry is part [part not set] of 1 in the series Wheel of Time
  • Knife of Dreams

Any of you that know me, or even any of you that have perused this site a bit, know that I’ve been into Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series for quite some time now. Really into it, and for a pretty damn long time (I was given Eye of the World, the first of the series, before the second came out…that’s almost 15 years, for those of you playing along). Those of you who know me really well, though, know that I can’t really be called much of a fan for some years now, at least if your criteria for fan includes recommending a series to those not previously acquainted. I (along with all but the most devout) watched in frustration as the later books slipped in quality; the pace of the plot seeming to grind to glacial slowness while trivialities of setting were ever more baroquely elaborated upon. Knife of Dreams is, sadly, not a return to greatness sufficient to return me to the proselytizing ways of my youth, but it is in my opinion the best book Robert Jordan has foisted onto his audience in 7 years by a fair margin. Beginning with yet another “prologue” artificially and outrageously fattened to provide justification for its separate sale as an early release E-book, this book really sets things moving. The only complaint I have about the first 100 pages is the “prologue” artifice that envelopes them and establishes a different flow than the sensible chapter division used throughout the rest of the book. Things happen! Those of you who haven’t been following this series in its decline might be boggling slightly at how I keep emphasizing this seemingly obvious point, but its astonishing to have watched these characters jockey for position for book after book and then all of a sudden move. The overall effect is sometimes falsely anticlimactic, because while the moments themselves are truly climactic and (in reflection) well played, there has been so much anticipation and dawdling previously that what would normally be perceived as a timely event seems rushed and oddly shallow. It probably doesn’t hurt that my favorite characters get the choicest bits in this installment, with Mat and Egwene having a goodly portion of the text and some of its best portions, too. Mat and Tuon’s relationship develops in its peculiar but somehow enchanting fashion, while the Egwene whose strength as a person we’ve seen grow leaps and bounds finds her strengths as a leader just when it seems that she’s been brought down as low as she can be taken. Loial finds himself suddenly thrust into the world of adults that he’s always craved, and you can’t help but be happy for him even if he’s not so sure of how it’s going to work out, just yet. Nynaeve does something truly and utterly Aes Sedai, and you absolutely love her for it. Some of the individual scenes are among the best Jordan has ever written. Even the threads that have grown stale (as Rand’s had) or rancid (as Perrin’s and Elayne’s had) move in satisfactory directions and some sense of conclusion in most is reached, as the “holding pattern” actions they’ve been mired in are resolved and things begin to assume their placement for the Last Battle, which seems truly (and finally) imminent. Robert Jordan said “at least two more books” for 6 books. Now he says this is it, and the next book will be the last if it redefines doorstop fiction and causes horses to choke at the mere thought of it. I’m of mixed feelings about that. On the one hand, of course I crave that conclusion, and the ability to set this chapter of my life completely aside with that last book on the shelf…but at the same time I don’t understand why he would be so determined to end it in such a fashion. Thirteen has been one of the defining numbers of this series…almost certainly the most significant number if you were for some reason forced to pick one. If you know you’ve got the material to make it to 13 (and he clearly does)…then why not? I guarantee a squeezed and squished conclusion is going to draw more detractors than yet another extension to one of the most famously extended series in the genre, and there’s something to be said for…numerological resonance. Or something. So in a nutshell, this is the best Wheel of Time book since Lord of Chaos. Possibly better than, although I think it’s too early for me to make that judgement. If you’ve not followed this series, I still can’t recommend that you start it unless you’ve just got gobs of time and don’t mind waiting at least a couple of years for the conclusion…but if you’ve been holding off because of the dissapointment of the last several years and are accustomed to the waiting, then there’s no reason not to start back up again. This is good WoT, and I recommend it.

2 Responses to “Knife of Dreams”

  1. Pat says:

    Its hard to take someone seriously who Loves Robert Jordan, and Didnt like Pillars of the Earth.

    You are a complete joke to the litarary world.

  2. Skwid says:

    Likewise, it’s difficult to take criticism from those who are redundant, clearly can’t read (if you think I "love" RJ, you’re not paying attention), and furthermore can’t spell.

    But if you have anything substantive to add, I’ll welcome the feedback.

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