Thursday, December 08, 2005

Books: Knife of Dreams

A few weeks ago I finished the latest book in Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time Series, Knife of Dreams. I've been a huge fan of the Wheel of Time books for a long, long time and really look forward to each new book as it comes out (which unfortunately doesn't happen particularly often).

It has been nearly three years since the previous book came out (Jan 2003). Even though I was looking forward to the next book, I've learned my lesson over the years about anticipating the release too much. Somehow I managed to keep Knife of Dreams off my radar for the most part. That made it a pleasant surprise this October when the book was finally released. I even showed some willpower, and finished my in-progress book before diving into Knife of Dreams.

I really enjoyed Knife of Dreams. Initially it took a bit to get back into the swing of things and remember who all the characters were, who was a darkfriend, who was only a suspected darkfriend, who had secret plots, why people were where they were, etc. But after just a few chapters I was able to sink back into the world, and enjoy the complexities.

One of the reasons it was possible to recall what was going on is that for the last several books, very little has happened. Jordan's books feature a vast cast of characters, and lately the characters have all been split up across the world, which slows the pace of the plot down to a crawl. There are many plotlines that have been lingering almost comatose for over 10 years now. Knife of Dreams finally managed to finish all kinds of significant plotlines and advance a bunch of others, which made the book seem much more action-packed then the previous books.

It also looks like Jordan is finally turning onto the home stretch and this series might be done eventually (though I don't buy the 'only one more book' theories). Finishing the series would be great from a 'finally done' standpoint, as even though I like the books, I want to be able to have some closure eventually.

Knife of Dreams does a good job of getting back to the core storylines and focusing on the characters that started the whole story out in the first place, which is a good thing in my mind. Surprisingly, for a book that focuses so much on the lead up to the final battle, Rand doesn't get a whole lot of time in the story. But many of the other characters get lots of pages, including one of my personal favorites, Mat.

I can't think of much that I didn't enjoy about Knife of Dreams. My biggest complaint is that it takes so long in between each book. I get this feeling that I would enjoy the books even more if I read them back to back (as I did with 1-6 and again for 1-7), but I just don't have that kind of time to invest anymore. And that isn't even really a complaint about the book itself, rather about Robert Jordan's glacial writing speed.

Anyways, if you've managed to stay with the Wheel of Time series for the past 15 years you have to pick up Knife of Dreams, it's quite good.

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