Wheel of Time Book 11: Knife of Dreams
After several books of scant plot progression and painfully slow pacing, Knife of Dreams is practically a plethora of concluded plotlines. It felt as if all the main threads of the past nearly four books were gathered up in this installment and tied off in short order. Interestingly, this installment was quite a bit longer than the previous four yet was much quicker to get through because nearly each chapter was a fast-paced rush toward some form of completion.
There were many satisfying elements to this book that made it a very enjoyable read:
- Rand’s madness and connection with Lews Therrin is progressing in interesting ways and made for an incredibly intense battle at one point.
- The prologue was, for once, not just an overly long information dump. Several interesting things happened, and they had a bit more of a direct link to things that take place within the book.
- Mat returned to leading men in battle rather than just listening to dice rolling in his head and fretting with Aes Sedai.
- Egwene progressed quite a bit, in my opinion, and I believe her to be more of a force now than I did in previous books.
- Nynaeve had one undeniably impressive scene in the book, though I am not sold on the whole of that plot line for other reasons. I will reserve judgment for later, but it was quite an impressive scene.
- Thom and the letter. That was a nice piece of long game.
Overall, the book was leaps and bounds better than the previous four, and likely the best book since The Shadow Rising.
However, it was not without elements that I did not enjoy.
- Coupled with the obsession with breasts, most often being described as ample or protruding from clothing, there is also far too many instances of fully grown adult characters spanking, birching, or strapping each other. I feel like several hundred-year-old magic wielding women could conceive of a more adult form of punishment to set others straight, as it were. This feels very juvenile to me.
- The Aes Sedai intrigue has begun to wear on me. As a reader I am no longer invested in either side of the argument, because both factions are rife with catty, arrogant women who would see the whole world burn just to prove that they listen to no one.
- A line was thrown out at one point that I feel sums up the Aes Sedai since around the time of The Shadow Rising, “…common sense was in short supply when it came to Aes Sedai.” This is exactly right.
- As a character I do not enjoy Faile, and Perrin has also become much too brooding and morose for me. As such, I did really feel the same passion as he did in his burn to get her back. To top this off, she was beginning to feel some compassion for her captor – genuinely, and that was ended in a rather odd manner. Overall, I feel their relationship and Perrin’s overall story line ranks as the weakest in my opinion.
- Elayne is another character that I do not care for. I actually find myself caring less and less about her with each book. Her recent reason for being petulant is because she is pregnant and this book is peppered with her temper tantrums about being so, and how she was going to “get Rand” for doing this to her. Again, this felt like a very childish reaction. Yes, some adults joke in this manner about being pregnant. I don’t feel this fits a magic wielding queen. Furthermore, she has a moment where she’s ogles one of the men who swore fealty to her and considers “bonding another warder”, which read as her wanting another man on top of Rand. The amorousness of the Wheel characters is becoming irritating. Again, I know some people lust for other people… even if they are in love with someone else, but this just feels like an unnecessary element that makes an emotionally unstable queen who spent so many books pinning for Rand seem like a horny (pregnant) teenager. Even if she is, what does this add to the narrative?
- While Mat’s character was perhaps my favorite until what was done to him throughout A Crown of Swords, they have now put him into what, I feel, is another demeaning and abusive relationship. Further, I can FEEL how the writing is meant to endear the woman to the reader, and it makes me feel nearly the opposite. She is another in the long line of Wheel women who are obstinate and demeaning. In fairness, she has a bit more excuse than the others. Perhaps if it were not for the hundreds of women in Wheel who act in a similar manner, I may not have reacted so aversely to her, but at the moment I do not like her nor her relationship with Mat. After what he went through in Crown of Swords, it almost feels like he now has a complex that attracts him to abusive women.
All in all, I feel this book set the series back on a strong track, and I am genuinely looking forward to the final three now.