February 2, 2011
Knife of Dreams Review
The last of the Wheel of Time series to be completed entirely by Robert Jordan, Knife of Dreams, was a step in the right direction for the saga. For volume after volume, Jordan had been on a long-winded ramble, creating convoluted side-plots, over-developing unimportant side characters and leaving events unresolved and stagnant. This book, the last he wrote before his death, was a testament to his power as a story-teller and a reminder of why so many readers kept drudging through thousands of pages to get to the Last Battle. I was relieved and pleased to find that his last novel was the first step to a thrilling conclusion that will be as satisfying to readers as the story's beginnings were.
Finally, in Knife of Dreams, Jordan is actually pulling his sideplots through to their conclusions and preparing his characters to get focused on their real battle. Mat and his soon-to-be wife (as laughable as that concept is) face separation as the price for both of their well-beings. Perrin finally gets his opportunity to take on the Shaido who have capture Faile, after several books leading to this distraction from his duty at Rand's side. Egwene's sideplot was the most captivating for me, which was refreshing because despite the intricate political manipulations to make herself more than a puppet Amyrlin, I had found the sections about Egwene to be the most boring in the past few books. That is in the past - with this book, Egwene has to contend with the impossible task of reuniting the White Tower while being degraded by captivity. Her strength in these scenes is beyond anything we've seen from her before.
And what is Rand up to? Pretty much just becoming increasingly paranoid, stone-like, and mad. That's not to say that he doesn't play an interesting part in this book, but until the thrilling conclusion, there is definitely a focus on the supporting characters' side plots. I'm ok with that, since we are finally back on the right track. That's really what Knife of Dreams is about. Every plot line has been completely derailed in the past few books, and before his death, RJ managed to set them back on the tracks. This is a very refreshing addition to a what had been a long and somewhat stale epic. Hopefully the last three additions will manage to be fresh and satisfying.