Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Wheel of Time reread: "Knife of Dreams" by Robert Jordan

Few days ago I finished with reading "Knife of Dreams" - only two more books and I need to hurry. My copy of "A Memory of Light" has come earlier than I expected, so I don't need to hold back. Now, if I only had more time for reading...

It is easy to shortly introduce "Knife of Dreams" because it mostly continues plot-lines that were started before. Rand is still mostly in hiding after cleaning the Saidin, jumping all around the world and preparing for the Last Battle. His biggest concern now are the Seanchan - he can't fight them at the same time as he fights Tarmon Gai'don, so he has to find some solution for them. Perrin has finally forged a plan for rescuing Faile, and with the help of Seanchan army, he will put it in action. Mat is slowly running away from the Seanchan while struggling to start to understand Tuon, his wife-to-be. When he finds out there is a plot to kill her, he must find a way to protect her without letting himself be captured. Egwene, who has been captured by White Tower at the end of last book, slowly realizes that this is not the end of her fight against Elaida - this is actually her biggest chance. But she has a peculiar battle to fight. Elayne is not enviable position - surrounded by her competitor's army, she discovers there is enemy in her lines, also. Also, her pregnancy is not helping her mood.

Well, the biggest difference between "Knife of Dreams" and last four books is that it finished plot-lines instead starting them. In first six books of "The Wheel of Time", we had a normal sequence of starting and ending a plot-line in single books. But next five books feel more like a part of one (very) big book, and KoD is its ending. I enjoyed previous books very much, but I would lie if I said that I didn't like to see these endings. Also, this book feels much more packed - there is much happening, especially with our five main characters (minus Nyneve).

Again, we have a humongous prologue - 90 pages. Again, it features Rodel Ituralde, which I like very much. There is one line that I remembered especially well: "He always looked ahead, and always planned for every eventuality he could imagine, short of the Dragon Reborn himself suddenly appearing in front of him." - this will be very funny when we come to "The Gathering Storm".

Last few times I read this book, I used to check how more I had till Mat's POV. This time I enjoyed almost everything. Elayne's part was a bit dragging again, though. I always forgot whether Sareitha or Careane is a Black Sister - even though I read it only few days ago I forgot again. And for some reason, I always disliked two chapters with Elayne's fight against Black Sisters.

I don't have any big impressions about Rand's, Perrin's and Egwene's parts, except that I enjoyed reading them. Loial's POV is interesting - and the Trolloc attack in that chapter. But part with Nyneve and Lan, and especially what Nyneve does, is one of my favorite parts in whole series!

Again, Mat's POVs are slightly above the rest, but only slightly. Luca Valan is a great character, especially when he turns around performer's minds. And I like chapters with Furyk Karede, especially the one when he catches up with Mat.

So, "Knife of Dreams" presents a welcome change to "The Wheel of Time", clearing out some rubble and preparing for the ending of the whole series. At the time it was written, that was supposed to be the penultimate book, but more about it in post about the next book in reread.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Wheel of Time reread: "Crossroads of Twilight" by Robert Jordan

I am getting closer: I finished "Crossroads of Twilight", and now I am reading "Knife of Dreams". Only few more weeks, and I will finish the complete "The Wheel of Time" series. I hope that it will have a deserving ending.

Also, I now have to be careful to avoid anything mentioning "A Memory of Light", to avoid possible spoilers. Even Wikipedia could be dangerous now.

After two shorter books, "Crossroads of Twilight" is back to a normal length for novel of such caliber: 800 pages. Somehow, in my mind, I always considered it as Mat's book; at the contrary, he has only 5 chapters, (6 if count Furyk Karede's) as Elayne and Egwene, while Perrin has 6 (7 if we count Faile's). But let's go by the order. After cleaning Saidin in last book, Rand is in hiding and resting - therefore he (actually, his plot-line) only gets two short chapters. Curiously, I realized that this time Nyneve is absent, except by mention in his part. After three books, he finally comes to good terms with Cadsuane, meaning that this is the first time (and last for some time), that she is not irritating. Perrin is still caught up with trying to save Faile, although now he is forced to accept that it will not be done in matter of days, and that he has other responsibilities. Mat has successfully left Ebou Dar; unfortunately  he is not away from Seanchan, or from Daughter of the Nine Moons. Elayne, now pregnant and without Nyneve, is trying to win the throne of Andor, even though her prospects doesn't look very good. Egwene is now accepted as real (rebel) Amyrlin Seat, but that doesn't mean that she is without problems - even her Aes Sedai still find ways to make troubles for her. And currently, the times are even tougher, since they are besieging Tar Valon.

Of course, except our main character, we have several POV from minor characters. And also, we have a long prologue. Jordan must have been full of ideas, with no place to put them, except in such long prologues. I especially like Ituralde's POV - here and in next books. There is a great but somewhat disturbing chapter with Alviarin, Mesaana and Shaidar Haran. And I hope there will be a clear explanation what kind of vile events were happening after Aiel War that so much of Red sisters were forced in exile.

I am having some troubles reviewing this book, because nothing really happens. Oh sure, there are lots of stuff going on, but all these plot-lines have started in prior books, and not one of them is finished here. More so, first half of the book actually happens at the same time as events in "Winter's Heart". This doesn't mean that I don't like the book, at the contrary. But only that I have tough time finding momentous impressions from it to write about.

Elayne's part here was a bit too long. Not bad (I liked the part when she meats the High Seats), but it could have been shorter. Also, did Jordan put such focus on clothes and details before? There was good Eenia's POV - you can really feel how she is always angry. Even though she is obviously intelligent, this anger thwarts her in reaching further. Jordan did great job capturing that.

Egwene's part is great here, too. I especially like the chapter when they decide to approach Asha'man.

Perrin's POVs are split in two groups. I didn't overly enjoy first ones, at the beginning of the book (probably because I was impatient for Mat's part to start), but the second one were good. I don't know why, but I always like the So Habor part.

I know that it is probably tiring hearing me saying how great Mat's part is, but it really is so. I really like his interactions with Tuon, but also his impression of everybody else. He is just perfectly comical without becoming so.

So, even though "Crossroad of Twilight" is a book without momentous events and somewhat slower plot, I had a very good time with it.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Wheel of Time reread: "Winter's Heart" by Robert Jordan

Well, I was able to figure out what happened with my "Lord of Chaos" post: I opened the post on my mobile-phone before it synchronized, and so saved the older version over the new, full one. I am still deciding is this a bug or a feature.... Anyway, I'll be more careful in future.

So, I am slowly getting toward the end of "The Wheel of Time" series. With "Winter's Heart" I finished 9th book out of 14. Four more books before "Memory of Light" - with luck, I will finished them just in time to receive MoL.

"Winter's Heart" is slightly larger that was "The Path of Daggers", somewhat below 700 pages. There are four main plot-lines here. Faile was in last book captures by Shaido, and now is trying to figure out what to do, while Perrin is trying to rescue her, while at the same time balancing Masema, Ghealdanin, Aes Sedai and Wise-Ones, and Berelain. Elayne has arrived in Camelyn and started her campaign to win the Throne of Andor, but she also has her hands full: open and hidden opponents, enmity between Aes Sedai, Kinswomen and Atha'an Miere, a massive army of Borderlanders with unknown intention. Rand is, on the other side, focused on a single goal: executing rebel Asha'man. That is, before he can turn his attention to a much larger goal: cleaning the Saidin. And at South, in Ebou Dar, recently conquered by Seanchan, we have Mat Cauthon, who is trying to escape his fate, not knowing that Daughter of Nine Moons is coming closer.

Only now I realized that Egwene is absent from this book, as were Rand, Perrin and Mat before. She only appears in short cameo with Elayne. I have read these books at least three or four times before, but I haven't realized it before: it is because they are not encompassed and defined as were the early ones. Also, does this mean that Jordan considered Egwene as fourth main characters? As most reviewers, I always considered Rand, Perrin and Mat the three protagonists.

I have only words of praise for this book. I still like Perrin's and Faile's part, and I don't see myself changing my opinion. Perrin is being a bit too emotional, but that is who he is. And he is surrounded with such different characters that his observations (especially when he smells them) are very interesting.

Elayne's part is maybe too long in whole, but here is not; I always liked reading about politics. I especially liked the chapter when she is meeting with the Borderlanders. And the chapter with Elayne, Min and Aviendha finally making some deal with Rand makes me happy, as much for them as for Rand.

This is the first time that Nyneve is having her own adventures, without Elayne. She was in her company without break from "The Great Hunt": eight books! They sure had a lot adventures together. Anyway, Nyneve is great together with Elayne, or by herself. In last book I didn't like Nyneve with Atha'an Miere and Kinswoman, but this time all that is very funny.

As for Rand, I think this book proves my claim that things are going down for the Light. Even though they succeed with a major success, Rand's mental condition is again getting worse. I really liked the great chapter when Rand meets Elayne, Aviendha and Min: it is always funny to see their misunderstandings revealed. Also, Far Madding chapters are very interesting.

And of course, there is my favorite part of the book. Mat's part is simply great and very funny.

All in all, "Winter's Heart" is probably my favorite book of this section, from "A Crown of Swords" till "Crossroads of Twilight", maybe even "Knife of Dreams" (I will have to decide after I read them). It is very fun, full of action and full of enjoyment.