on 5 August 2006
After falling in love with the WoT series after reading The Eye of the World and the subsequent 4 or 5 books, I began to feel that maybe the story was unravelling out of control with the arrival of books 8 to 10.
After the monstrosity that was book 10, Knife of Dreams certainly attempts to rekindle some semblance of a plot into the series, but I can't help feeling that Jordan has significantly altered his sense of the world, and through trying to convey a land that is changing with the coming of Tarmon Gai'don, has lost contact with the very things about the story that we all loved.
The pace has definitely quickened and some plot threads are tied off, yet even reading what should be exciting revelations about Rand, the ta'veren, Aes Sedai etc.. seem to become bogged down in characters dress codes, hairstyles, warder bonds, inner voices, feelings (often of contempt for the opposite sex) or simply their preference of wine over goat's milk! It seems that no man can talk about women without listing all the ways in which they confuse him, no woman can speak to men without telling them they are 'woolheaded'. There are so many Aes Sedai, Asha'man, Tairen and Cairhienin nobles, Gai'shan, Windfinders, Wise Ones, maids and Seanchan officers with their own story lines that I have to keep re-reading just to keep up with characters of little or no consequence! Please let the Last Battle come soon, and just let it be dealt with in the style of the original Jordan!
on 14 March 2006
I have spent sooo long reading this series. Upto book seven I thought it was amazing but since then it has definitely seen a downturn. The last one was awful, and to be honest this one's not much of an improvement. I have re-read the previous books three times now so that I can get the numerous plots clear before I start reading the latest, but not this time, and that did partly detract from my enjoyment of this volume.
The problem though is that just not enough happens, the book should be half the size, endless chapters of the female characters "straightening their skirts" gets just a bit wearying. A few loose ends are tied up but not near enough to justify the end of the series in one more volume; there is just no way this can happen. Even the most parsimonious writer might struggle to wind up all the plots, not to mention the last battle, in less than another 1000 page volume and Robert Jordan could never be accused of being an economical writer.
I really do hope the next two plus are an improvement, because the story had such promise.
on 21 October 2005
Can we really be getting close to a conclusion? Many of the minor plot threads seem to be pulled together in this 11th book in the series. Having slogged through Crossroads of Twilight I was thrilled to be pulled along at a good pace. Much of the last few books seemingly endless digressions were avoided here.
We have conclusions to Faile's abduction by the Shaido, a fufillment of at least one prophecy in Mat's tale as well as some good action sequences and a dash of humour. Elaine finally stops whingeing and whining to actually get something done. Rand figures less in this book, much less than he has in previous instalments but his section of the book is memorable. The number of minor plot threads resolved or on track to resolution are too numerable to account but fans of the series, who began it as I did with the first book more than 15 years ago, will be mightily pleased that we will probably live to read the final chapter.
This was a real return to form for RJ and he deserves much praise for it.
on 21 October 2005
At last!! Robert Jordan has finally returned to his old form. This is his best effort since book 6, and closely follows the form of those previous outings. He concentrates more on action, and actually getting things done, than his drawn out character development. Lots of sub-plots come to an end, with others nearing their conclusion. Yet one thing still ends up frustrating me. RJs tireless efforts to make the male half of the species seem little more than ignorant losers, completely unable to take care of themselves. This can be so annoying when you consider that the best characters, (such as Mat), get everything they set their sights on done. Whereas the women of the book spend more time conniving, drinking honey sweetened tea, and just moaning for all their worth. There is no better example of this than the Aes Sedai, in my opinion.
That aside though, this is an exceptional read, and one that i strongly recommend to old and new readers alike. It is clear that the last battle is upon us, and that everything is coaleasing fot that final confrontation.
All in all, a splendid read.
on 12 June 2006
I am very pleased to say that some plot lines are finally tied up in this book.
I will get the bad stuff out of the way first.
The books continue to contain lots of padding-out material. Demonstrated by the fact that Perrin (arguably the joint second most important character's) latest exploits have all been about rescuing Faile... a plot spanning a total of THREE NOVELS.
For example, in the first three novels, Perrin had left his home pursued by Trollocs, got lost with Egwene and learned he could communicate with wolves, traveled through the ways to the Blight, met two of the Forsaken, particpated in the Great Hunt - a thrilling story of a chase across the world, become the bannerman of the Dragon (when the Horn of Valere is found and sounded!), then chased the Dragon across the world, meet his wife-to-be, and witnessed Rand drawing Calandor.
In the latest three novels, his wife got captured, investigated some flour with weevils in for some reason, got some soldiers together, and launched an assault again the Shaido. The latter two events happening in the Knife of Dreams.
And that's just Perrin. Mat has been riding across Ebou Dar with the circus for the last two novels.
Methinks Jordan is losing his touch.
I am rather tired of the world of the Wheel of Time, myself. In short, The Wheel of Time world, known only as Randland as Jordan has not been kind enough to provide another name, is a world of "hard-packed dirt roads", bay geldings, embroidery and lace cuffs, and an endless stream of angry women - each one more stubborn and predicatbly hard-willed as the last.
I digress. You all know whats wrong with it.
Let's look at the positives.
Yes, I think there have been some very postive things about A Knife of Dreams.
Without giving too much information away, one of Mat's plot threads finally ends, and also one of Perrin's. So it is worth reading for that at least.
There is a reduction in sniffing, mentions of Bela, random Aes Sedia, and hair caught in nets. And silverpike (I never thought I would see the day). Though you may grit your teeth at the constant mention of pillow-friends.
What else is good? Well the end of the epilogue is a magnificent cliffhanger. Gosh, its worth reading just to reach the last line of speech. My, my.
However, to make the book worth reading, go straight to the first Rand chapter. It's called News For The Dragon, and is about half-way through.
I will fill you in on what happens from page one up until then:
You're up to speed.
Seriously though, Knife of Dreams does at last make progress through the plot, and there is a definate sense that the saga is coming to an end. Though I don't think the last book will be quite the BANG we were hoping for. Still, time will tell.
Time will also tell how Jordan will condense 3000 pages of storytelling (I estimate) yet to come into a 1000 page novel. And still include plenty of sniffing, Sea Folk diplomacy, and three pages per chapter dedicated to Elayne's cups of tea.
on 16 October 2005
Well, it looks like RJ is actually back to his old form. I just finished reading and it is a hell of a good book. Unlike the last 3 books I did not feel an urge to flip past whole chapters just to avoid the adventures of the Ladies... All their whining, complaining and maneuvering annoyed me so much in the last book that I simply flipped past those chapters. That has changed. While Elaine still seems a silly and rather stupid bint, neither Egwene nor Nynaeve were and it was actually a good read, too. Heck, I was cheering for them sometimes, which is a definite improvement.
While I want to avoid too many spoilers, some long-running stories like the rescue of Faile have finally been finished. Yes, it actually feels like the story is going somewhere for a change. After the last three books I had despaired of ever seeing any progress while the characters complained and whined incessantly while certain they were superior and cleverer than anybody else.
Some of the storylines finally resolved:
The tinker with the sword
Faile's time as slave to the Shaido
Mat's time with Luca's show
The Siege of Caemlin
The contents of Moiraines letter to Thom.
There are a number of other storylines, big and small, that are coming to fruition as well, but I don't want to spoil too much.
Let me just say that this book was so good that I literally could not put it down. I found myself cheering the characters a number of times and also laughing out at the antics of some of my favourites. I am eagerly awaiting the next one and the only problem I have is that RJ will most likely take another 3 years to finish it. /sigh Oh well, excellent book.
on 22 March 2006
The wait, oh the wait. And finally when I get it it is actually better than the last couple. However, Having waited so long for it, I found that after reading the first chapter, I had to go back and reread several of the more pitiful ones preceding it just to remember who was who, what they were doing and why. Not the main characters to be sure but the mulititued of supporting characters.
Is this over complicated or what? Now I like a convoluted plot with many characters but this series is getting way too many, maybe he should have a cataclysmic disaster which kills off half of the supporting cast so all we have to deal with are a few main players.
Better but still not worth a better rating.
on 28 December 2005
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.
on 22 August 2006
With the final battle of Tarmon Gai'don looking likely to happen soon all the players in this complicated tale are moving forward with their plans. The White Tower is still divided, Elayne is still trying to seize her throne, Perrin is still trying to rescue his wife Faile from the Shaido.
Finally some of the bit part characters are being taken out of the story, although this book doesn't do much to tie off loose ends. As with the last few books this is all about the politics and schemes of the characters although there is some action. What Jordan still continues to do is lose where the story is going.
The first six or so books in the series had a definite agenda and story to tell. Now it seems they're being written purely for the sake of writing. With any luck there won't be too many more and the whole thing can be wrapped up.
Not a bad book all-in-all, but it suffers from the loss of direction that's plagued the last four books. If you love this series already then you'll know whether you want to spend the money on getting Knife of Dreams. If you've read the books but don't enjoy where the story is going then stop reading them.
on 18 January 2006
I view a new Wheel of Time book with a lot of trepidation these days. Since book 7 (A Crown of Swords) the books have, frankly, been rubbish, the only standout moment being the climax of book 9 (Winter's Heart) because after 2000-odd pages of describing red-slashed riding dresses or neatly trimmed and oiled beards something actually happened. I hadn't planned on buying book 11 until it was out in paperback. Book 10 (Crossroads of Twilight) damaged my faith to the point that I wasn't willing to shell out more money
That said, I received the book in hardcover for Christmas, so I couldn't really complain. Before I got around to reading it, a really weird thing happened: I read a good review.
Truth is, this book is everything that the previous 4 should have been. The pace is reminiscent of the earlier novels -- the ones that got us all hooked in the first place -- when the story was driven by things happening rather than women sniffing and feelings being transmitted through warder bonds. Things happen in this book. There is action, and in the second half of the book that action is relentless.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about this book is that, after so much stalling, several of the minor plot lines are resolved. I can think of four or five off the top of my head. And that is something that should encourage those disenchanted fans to keep reading.
For the first time in a long time, there's a glimmer of hope that a). this will end well, and b). this will end some time before we all die of old age.
There are a couple of complaints, of course. Firstly being that after a good (if stupidly long) prologue, Jordan does slip back into his old habits for a while, and some of the chapters written through minor viewpoints (I'm thinking the aes sedai, mainly) are a real struggle.
Secondly, there are so many characters now that it's difficult keeping track of them. Jordan must have identified and described a hundred aes sedai by now, not to mention dozens of nobels, asha'man, etc. Without the help of an appendix -- such as provided by George RR Martin in his Song of Ice and Fire series -- remembering everyone is impossible.
Thirdly, and this is a personal gripe, one of the plot arcs that is hinted at isn't resolved, and I really want to know what happens in that one. It's for this reason that I think that there are another couple of books to come, if not more.
So, to the fans my advice is: stick with it. To new readers: avoid like the plague, at least until the end is written.