Book Review – Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan

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Crossroads of Twilight (Wheel of Time, #10)

TITLE:  Crossroads of Twilight

SERIES:  The Wheel of Time Series, book 10

AUTHOR:  Robert Jordan

FORMAT:  Epub via Google Play Books

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  770 pages of story; 792 pages total

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  3.80 out of 5 stars; 52,598 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

In the tenth book of The Wheel of Time from the New York Times #1 bestselling author Robert Jordan, the world and the characters stand at a crossroads, and the world approaches twilight, when the power of the Shadow grows stronger.

Fleeing from Ebou Dar with the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons, whom he is fated to marry, Mat Cauthon learns that he can neither keep her nor let her go, not in safety for either of them, for both the Shadow and the might of the Seanchan Empire are in deadly pursuit.

Perrin Aybara seeks to free his wife, Faile, a captive of the Shaido, but his only hope may be an alliance with the enemy. Can he remain true to his friend Rand and to himself? For his love of Faile, Perrin is willing to sell his soul.

At Tar Valon, Egwene al’Vere, the young Amyrlin of the rebel Aes Sedai, lays siege to the heart of Aes Sedai power, but she must win quickly, with as little bloodshed as possible, for unless the Aes Sedai are reunited, only the male Asha’man will remain to defend the world against the Dark One, and nothing can hold the Asha’man themselves back from total power except the Aes Sedai and a unified White Tower.

In Andor, Elayne Trakland fights for the Lion Throne that is hers by right, but enemies and Darkfriends surround her, plotting her destruction. If she fails, Andor may fall to the Shadow, and the Dragon Reborn with it.

Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn himself, has cleansed the Dark One’s taint from the male half of the True Source, and everything has changed. Yet nothing has, for only men who can channel believe that saidin is clean again, and a man who can channel is still hated and feared-even one prophesied to save the world. Now, Rand must gamble again, with himself at stake, and he cannot be sure which of his allies are really enemies.

DATES READ:  June 21-28, 2015

MY REVIEW:

People never really changed, yet the world did, with disturbing regularity.  You just had to live with it, or at least live through it.  Now and then, with luck, you could affect the direction of the changes, but even if you stopped one, you only set another in motion.~Cadsuane Melaidhrin, Aes Sedai of the Green Ajah

Crossroads of Twilight did not live up to my expectations of what makes for a successful series sequel, perhaps part of the blame for that could be placed on the events at the end of Winter’s Heart.  The events at the end of Winter’s Heart provide a lot of set up towards future events because the cleansing of saidin removes some of the danger surrounding the Asha’man because the threat of their (and Rand’s) impending madness has been removed.  I am willing to bet that this single event will have a major impact on the overall progression of events in preparation for Tarmon Gai’don, yet the impact is almost glossed over because of how this book is written!  Crossroads of Twilight felt as if it were multiple novellas which were glued together to create some semblance of a novel and this style just didn’t serve the book well at all.  I even went so far as to Tweet out this very thought while I was gathering my notes for this review:

CoT End Tweet

Yes, there were redeeming qualities across each story line, but the book overall still felt disjointed.  Granted, this disjointed feeling can become an issue for any author who utilizes multiple points of view in their storytelling.  However, I think this is the first book in The Wheel of Time Series where I felt the point of view switches actually took away from the story.  The overlying theme for this entire novel was this:  Hey, we are going to tell you what everyone else was up to while Rand was cleansing saidin and their reactions as well – oh and no one actually fully knows or understands what was done except those who were actually there and the Asha’man who can sense the change in saidin!  I am not looking to discount what anyone else was doing because each character has their own role to play in preparation for Tarmon Gai’don and it is important as the reader to know these things as well, but again the disjointed feeling of this novel made reading incredibly difficult.

My favorite story line was Mat attempting to court Tuon, his Daughter of the Nine Moons.  As a reader, we are given the luxury of knowledge because like Mat we have the advantage of knowing the prophecy given to him by the Aelfinn stating that Mat would, “Marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons.”  Tuon doesn’t have this same knowledge, at least as far as the reader knows she doesn’t, though we do know that Tuon did have her future told by one of her damane, but we don’t know what was said.  I don’t have a feel of Tuon’s character aside from her extreme self-confidence and security in her position as a High Lady and heir to the Seanchan Crystal Throne, though she is considered to be Mat’s prisoner it always seems as if she has the upper hand with not only Mat, but the rest of their group as well and this makes me question her feelings and motives towards Mat.  Tuon demeans Mat, calling him “Toy” as Tylin did in Ebou Dar, and seems rather cold towards him in his attempts to build a relationship with her.  Part of this could be strictly due to cultural differences, not much is actually known about Seanchan etiquette other than interactions between individuals which is highly impacted by the social hierarchy in place.  I am hoping that Tuon will continue to warm towards Mat and that we will find out just what was foretold in her future.

Another part of Mat and Tuon’s storyline that I have found interesting is observing the Seanchan sul’dam in their party come to terms with knowing that they are women with the spark, women who can be taught to channel, which puts them on a level with damane in the societal hierarchy.  This is a secret which has the potential to destroy the very foundations of the Seanchan Empire and possibly bring about their downfall from within.  This same observation can be made in regards to sul’dam held prisoner in Camelyn, though they have so far continued to deny that this is true. The Seanchan are actually coming to have a large impact on the story though they have only been mentioned in a few of the books up to this point in the series, specifically the attack on Falme where they were pushed back by Rand and company and now their successful invasion in Ebou Dar and further expansion inland.  Both Rand and Perrin are being set up to have dealings with the Seanchan in the next book and I am curious what they are looking to accomplish through these dealings.  I am interested how this will continue to progress and the impact it will ultimately have on the relationship between the Seanchan Empire and the Westlands.

Elayne is still attempting to secure herself on the Lion Throne of Andor pregnant with two children by Rand, hoping to keep the identity of their father a secret.  I am actually curious just what type of impact the naming of the father of her children would have on her claim to the throne, logically, who is to say that it couldn’t further secure her claim by giving Andor a permanent connection to The Dragon Reborn?  Also, her children are even further legitimized in the future as heirs to the throne through not only Elayne’s pedigree but Rand’s as well who can trace his lineage to Tigraine former Daughter-Heir of Andor who disappeared leading to the subsequent rise to the throne of Elayne’s mother Morgase Trakand.  Egwene is sieging Tar Valon with her army and fellow Aes Sedai, lying in wait for an optimal opportunity to launch their attack.  Egwene’s story line deals with a great deal of Aes Sedai politics over how to handle reunifying The White Tower.  There were talks among sisters to seek negotiations with Elaida and those who remain in the Tower, however, these negotiations haven’t really progressed as Elaida is only willing to accept a full surrender from Egwene’s faction.  I really didn’t like how Egwene’s section of the story ended because she went all noble and wound up getting herself captured.  This is going to have a major impact on the progression of events surrounding Tar Valon, but I doubt it is going to be to anyone’s benefit.  Knowing Egwene though, I sense that she will be able to do a lot of good for her faction even as a prisoner inside the Tower – her sheer ability to walk Tel’aran’rhiod is a huge advantage as she will still be able to communicate with her fellow Aes Sedai who are also able to enter, though none of them have her skills.  Perrin is still hoping to rescue Faile and the others from the Shaido Aiel while his army faces hunger and dealing with Masema and his followers.  It is looking like Perrin is going to have to look into receiving additional help from the Seanchan, who he still sees as a possible enemy, if he has any hope of rescuing Faile.  I worry that Perrin is in danger of becoming so focused on rescuing Faile that he is going to leave himself open for an attack from a supposed ally, I could honestly see Masema double-crossing Perrin if he felt it was in his best interest to do so.  With Masema, he continues to proclaim himself as The Prophet of the Lord Dragon and as the only way to receive redemption in the light and in service of the Dragon Reborn – yet, here is Perrin lifelong friend and ally to the Dragon Reborn who doesn’t fashion his life according to the constructs claimed right by the Prophet receiving glory.  Mat and Perrin are actually two of the greatest threats to Masema’s fanaticism (other than Rand or even Masema himself ruining a good thing through his craze) because they prove that you don’t have to follow Masema’s constructs and can still receive blessings and glory in the name of the Dragon.  I am interested to see how all of these story lines will progress and just how they will come together in the end.

TL;DR REVIEW:  3.00 out of 5 stars.  The disjointed feeling of this book sadly ruined the entire feeling of this novel and made it incredibly difficult to read.  I feel that had more attention been paid to how the story progressed overall, it could have been a successful novel.  I felt as if I was catching up with one story line, only to be immediately dropped into another story line without any seeming rhyme or reason.  Hopefully Knife of Dreams won’t suffer from the same mistakes.

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