14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Echoes of former greatness, promising much for the future,
This review is from: Knife Of Dreams: Book 11 of the Wheel of Time (Hardcover)
Like many people I was much less inclined to read this new book "Knife of Dreams" after the last one (Book 10, "Crossroads of Twilight"), which to my horror was utterly dreadful and progressed the Wheel of Time saga not even a little bit. This had been continuing a bad trend for Robert Jordan, going from being the best fantasy author to a massively frustrating time-waster - it began around Book 8, "The Path of Daggers," and things got pretty awful in Book 9 "Winter's Heart," but those books still had some redeeming features, while Book 10 had absolutely none and could even be disregarded in the grand scheme of things.
I was hoping Robert Jordan would somehow "wake up" and realise what was happening to his beloved work. The fact is that nothing actually happened in the last book (10), no revelations of any note, no key story-progressing events, nothing. On reading Book 11, it started off promisingly with an interesting and long (100-page!) prologue, but unfortunately for the next 300 pages or so Robert Jordan returned to what made the last books so bad - rambling on about things of little or no consequence, Aes Sedai sniffing at one another, etc, etc - and it's not before the book reaches the halfway point that everything suddenly changes. Robert Jordan awakes from his slumber and cracks in one of the best chapters he has ever written!
It is not a mere coincidence that this happens when the main protagonist - the main character of the entire Wheel of Time saga - Rand al'Thor, finally gets some 'air time.' Jordan's recent and questionable trend has been to virtually exclude him entirely (you could probably count the number of pages he appeared on in the last book with the fingers of both hands). This has had a detrimental effect in not only making the story less interesting, but the character seems to have lost character, so to speak, with all the other personalities crowding him into the background.
But Jordan makes a triumphant return with al'Thor, and the book definitely picks up a very fast pace from then on, with revelations and key events in almost every chapter, seeming to snowball tumultuously as you get nearer the end of the book. There are a few colossal and decisive battle scenes, some story arcs that have spanned several books finally conclude, not to mention one or two George Martin-esque shock tactics employed in events that show you nobody is invincible (even in a Robert Jordan novel), and an extremely intriguing epilogue that promises so much for the next book...
After the last book I was disillusioned to say the least, and some fans even lost interest. Yet it was amazing to find the likes of Archmaester George RR Martin actually referring respectfully to Robert Jordan (by name!) amidst the text of his latest long-awaited book "A Feast for Crows." That was the book I read before starting Jordan's "Knife of Dreams" and it was most certainly the hardest act to follow. Jordan has done something to restore the faith in this latest instalment of the Wheel of Time, a lot happens, and once you get past the tedium of the first half of the book, it's all worth it. There's plenty of action and intrigue, echoes of what made the likes of Book 7 "Lord of Chaos" one of the great fantasy epics. The slumbering giant of epic fantasy literature, Robert Jordan, seems to be vanquishing his demons at long last - the sleeper awakens.