Review: Knife of Dreams (The Wheel of Time, book 11)

Knife Of Dreams cover

Title: Knife of Dreams
Author: Robert Jordan
Published: 11 October 2005
Author’s Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jordan
Genre: Fantasy

Review:  Knife of Dreams, the eleventh book in The Wheel of Time starts off with Galad Damodred challenge and defeat Eamon Valda in a trial by combat for torturing and killing his mother, Morgase, the Queen of Andor.  This leads to the group of Whitecloaks following Galad, determined to team with whoever is fighting the Seanchan and riding to fight in The Last Battle.  We meet and watch Rodel Ituralde direct his troops against a larger force of Seanchan with damane, losing almost nothing in the battle while decimating the Seanchan.  We see Suroth approached by Semirhage and charged with killing Tuon, who currently rides with Mat.  And we find Egwene on her way into the White Tower, captured and shielded, where she begins to see how fractured the White Tower is…all of this in the prologue.

Throughout the rest of this book…

The rebels learn that Egwene has been captured, that she is not going to be executed, and yet she forbids them to attempt a rescue.  As a captive, Egwene notices the near-hostility between the Ajahs and decides to work to heal the tower and bring down Elaida.  Accepting her punishments while continuing to insist she is the Amyrlin Seat, she begins to sway novices and sisters to see her views.

Perrin makes a deal with the Seanchan in order to secure their aid in rescuing Faile from the Shaido, which involves large quantities of forkroot tea.  Perrin’s forces, with the aid of the tea, the Seanchan, and Masema’s army of rabble, are able to rescue Faile and the rest of their captured friends.  Perrin also learns that Masema will need to be eliminated after he finds he’s twisting people’s minds.

Mat continues courting Tuon while they continue traveling with Luca’s traveling circus.   Still not really understanding her culture gives her a great gift and then goes directly against her in defense of the Aes Sedai traveling with them, which, surprisingly doesn’t displease her too much.  He and his group split off from Luca’s and meet up with Talmanes who’s brought a small portion of the Band.  Mat devises a plan to escape across the mountains by attacking Seanchan camps.  Naturally, his plan works, and, true to his luck, Tuon’s most loyal Deathwatch Guards show up just in time to escort her back to lead the Seanchan on this side of the ocean.  Mat agrees to work as a distraction for the Seanchan army searching for Tuon, while her Deathwatch Guards get her safely back behind their lines where she can properly take command, but not before she completes the marriage ritual, leaving him married, and now known as the Prince of Ravens.

Elayne is defending Caemlyn from the other houses when she gets an unexpected boon…thousands of former guardsmen who had left when Gaebril ran the city.  She bargains hard when the leaders of the mercenaries fighting for her ask for more gold than previously agreed.  She leads a group of three other sisters on a raid of a house in Caemlyn that they suspect of being a lair for black sisters.  She’s captured leading Brigitte to force the Sea Folk in town to help her rescue her.

Knowing the prophecy says he must make a deal with the Daughter of the Nine Moons, Rand is suckered into a trap where he almost dies, but ends up with one of the forsaken as a prisoner.

Bottom Line:  Another great book, Knife of Dreams provides a few new plot diversions while wrapping up a couple others.  Interspersed with more action, it continues to push the overarching stories along, picking up just a little bit of speed.

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Review: The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time, book 4)

The Shadow RisingTitle: The Shadow Rising
Author: Robert Jordan
Published: 15 September 1992
Author’s Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jordan
Genre: Fantasy

Review:  As the fourth book in The Wheel of Time series opens right after Rand Al’Thor has drawn Calandor and taken the Stone of Tear along with Aiel.  Each of the three ta’veren are attacked by animated inanimate objects…Rand, while Berelain, the First of Mayene, is coming on to him, Perrin while he and Faile are having a chat, and Mat, while he’s playing cards with some young nobles.  All three survive their encounters without significant damage and without killing anyone else, but it does shake them up a bit.

News of Whitecloaks in Two Rivers looking for them makes Perrin decide he has to go back to help.  He’s convinced that if he turns himself in, they’ll leave Emond’s Field and the rest of Two Rivers alone.  He, Faile, Loial, and a few Aiel take The Ways back to a waygate near the Two Rivers.  They find the villagers trapped between the Whitecloaks and trollocs…one group just more overt about the suffering and despicable acts they perpetrate on people wherever they go.  Perrin turns out to be a natural leader, although he constantly doubts himself.

Elayne, Nynaeve, Egwene, and Moraine get the the captive Black sisters to admit that the Black Ajah has fled to Tanchico.  Egwene is able to confirm this by dream walking. In that same visit to Tel’aran’rhoid, she also meets an Aiel Wise One who tells her to come to the waste and she will train her in dream walking.  Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom, and Julian, the thief-catcher, head to Tanchico aboard a Sea Folk vessel where they befriend the Wavemistress and Windfinder of the vessel.

Mat and Rand, along with Moraine and Lan, Egwene, and Aviendha, as well as the rest of the Aiel who took the Stone, head to the Aiel waste beyond the Dragonwall via a portal stone.  Once in the Aiel waste, Rand goes to Rhuidean, presumably because he read that he needs to in one or more of the many books on the prophecy he read while in Tear.  Mat also goes because people in a ter’angreal told he must or he would die.  In Rhuidean, Rand learns a lot of the history of the Aiel and Mat is almost killed, but returns with a fox head medallion and the broken head of a black spear carved with runes…and quite an extensive knowledge of the Old Tongue.

Rand shows his double golden dragons at Alcair Dal, declaring himself “He Who Comes With The Dawn”…the man prophesied to unite and to break the Aiel …which begins almost immediately after his declaration, followed by a confrontation with one of the Forsaken.

Bottom Line:  While the pacing may have backed off a little and it may have the highest page count of this series, The Shadow Rising is full of important information and events, and isn’t too slow …even on a reread.  To say it’s full of life changing events for many of the main characters would be an understatement.  A bit of foreshadowing is also thrown in that can easily be missed as such without knowledge of the rest of the story.  Very clever.  It helps provide an “ah, ha” moment for those on a reread.

Review: The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time, book 3)

The Dragon RebornTitle: The Dragon Reborn
Author: Robert Jordan
Published: October 15, 1991
Author’s Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jordan
Genre: Fantasy

Review:  As the third book in The Wheel of Time series opens, Rand Al’Thor, after days of arguing with Moraine Sedai, leaves during the night, forcing Moraine, Lan, Perrin, and Loial to try to track him…which leads them through many towns where his passing has caused extremely odd things to happen.  In one town, Perrin frees an Aiel named Gaul from a cage and a Huntress of the Horn named Zarine decides to tag along as they flee the town by river after Perrin and Gaul slay/defeat twenty Whitecloaks.  They are chased out of Illian by Darkhounds and Gray Men and arrive in Tear.

Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne bring Mat and the Horn back to Tar Valon.  The girls are raised to Accepted and put on secret assignment by the Amyrlin Seat to search for members of the Black Ajah.

During this time, Egwene also starts to learn about Dreaming and Telaranrhiod, the World of Dreams.  Her first trip, using a ter’angreal given to her by Verin, gives her a glimpse of a number of things, including Rand’s dream, Perrin’s dream, and a glimpse of Callandor, confirming the ladies suspicion that they need to go to Tear to track down the members of the Black Ajah.  On their way, they meet a number of Aiel, including Aviendha, Bain, and Chiad, and Rhuarc, who are quite a way from the Dragonwall, in search of “he who comes with the dawn.”

Mat is healed, his connection to the dagger from Shadar Logoth broken, and he is told that he is effectively a prisoner of the White Tower, until a scheme of Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve allows him to escape downriver with Thom Merrillin.  Due to his unnatural good luck, he and Thom survive a couple of encounters on the way to Caemlyn, where Mat overhears a plan to kill Elayne, Egwene, and Nynaeve.  He and Thom then make tracks for Tear.

All our parties converge on Tear and the Prophecies are fulfilled:  Rand wields Callandor and proclaims himself The Dragon Reborn!

Bottom Line:  Changing gears a bit, The Dragon Reborn spends more time building the characters and story of the girls, Mat, and Perrin.  Most of Rand’s face time is through other characters’ points of view this time.  It also provides quite a bit of foreshadowing and name recognition that has come with having read the entire series previously…some of those moments where a character is introduced, almost in passing, that I know has a much bigger part to play later…that when I read them in here now, I think “Oh, wow…I didn’t recall <insert name> being introduced here.”  I love those moments during re-reads.  Another great book.