Book Review – Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan

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Knife of Dreams (Wheel of Time, #11)

TITLE:  Knife of Dreams

SERIES:  The Wheel of Time Series, book 11

AUTHOR:  Robert Jordan

FORMAT:  Epub via Google Play Books

PAGES/LOCATIONS:  956 pages of story, 981 pages total

GOODREADS’ AVG. RATING:  4.09 out of 5 stars; 59,328 ratings

SYNOPSIS PROVIDED:

The dead are walking, men die impossible deaths, and it seems as though reality itself has become unstable: All are signs of the imminence of Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, when Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, must confront the Dark One as humanity’s only hope. But Rand dares not fight until he possesses all the surviving seals on the Dark One’s prison and has dealt with the Seanchan, who threaten to overrun all nations this side of the Aryth Ocean and increasingly seem too entrenched to be fought off. But his attempt to make a truce with the Seanchan is shadowed by treachery that may cost him everything. Whatever the price, though, he must have that truce. And he faces other dangers.

The winds of time have become a storm, and things that everyone believes are fixed in place forever are changing before their eyes. Even the White Tower itself is no longer a place of safety. Now Rand, Perrin and Mat, Egwene and Elayne, Nynaeve and Lan, and even Loial, must ride those storm winds, or the Dark One will triumph.

DATES READ:  June 28th-July 10th, 2015

MY REVIEW:

Well, heroes got patted on the head and pushed out of the way until the next time a hero was needed, if they survived being a hero in the first place.  Very often heroes did not.~Matrim Cauthon, The Prince of the Ravens, General of the Band of the Red Hand

To readers of The Wheel of Time Series, the moment you complete Knife of Dreams will fill you with very conflicting emotions for two reasons.  First, this book is the final book before the last trilogy and the ending of the series – A Memory of Light actually encompasses the next three books titled The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and the final book A Memory of Light.  Secondly, Knife of Dreams is the last novel in the series to have been completely written by Robert Jordan prior to his death in 2007 which makes this book all the more special.  I really really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to continuing to enjoy the series, so thank you Robert Jordan for the wonderful story and world you created.

The majority of Knife of Dreams focused on the completing of certain story arcs as well as continuing to set up others.  This book isn’t flashy nor does it end on an aggravating cliff-hanger, instead it serves its purpose as a sequel and building block towards the final trilogy in the overall series.  I really appreciated that from this book, I appreciated that the book flowed well and that the events of each story arc ultimately came together in a way which made sense to either complete or further the arc in question.  The story arcs which came to fruition in Knife of Dreams included:  Mat and Tuon’s marriage, Perrin reuniting with Faile, and Elayne claimed the Lion Throne of Andor – all of which are sure to have a huge impact on the future course of events.  Yet, Rand’s story line continues to be hindered with difficulty, some of which is self inflicted, and is only more pressing as we continue ever closer to Tarmon Gai’don.  Another story line which wasn’t completed and is going to continue into the next book is Egwene’s “capture” at the hands of Elaida’s White Tower.  Let’s examine each of these story lines a bit closer.

Mat and Tuon

Matrim Cauthon is my husband.  Matrim Cauthon is my husband.  Bloody Matrim Cauthon is my husband~High Lady Tuon, Daughter of the Nine Moons

And there you have it folks, the words we were all waiting to hear, thus Mat and Tuon are now husband and wife.  We knew it was going to happen eventually, we just didn’t know the exact circumstances.  One of the things which strikes me most about the marriage between Mat and Tuon is that in no way is it a traditional novel wedding.  In most books, relationships are developed out of attraction and love – there are some exceptions to this, but for the most part book marriages stick to a predefined set of circumstances.  Mat and Tuon were brought together by prophecy which stated they would ultimately marry each other – here is how the each explained their prophecies:

I went through a ter’angreal to somewhere else, another world maybe.  The people there aren’t really people – they look like snakes – but they’ll answer three questions for you, and their answers are always true.  One of mine was that I’d marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons.~Mat explaining the Aelfinn prophecy to Tuon

Beware the fox that makes the ravens fly, for he will marry you and carry you away.  Beware the man who remembers Hawkwing’s face, for he will marry you and set you free.  Beware the man of the red hand, for him you will marry and none other.~Fortune told to Tuon by her damane Lidya

Tuon has some difficulty believing Mat’s prophecy only because she has no knowledge or experience with Aelfinn, however that doesn’t change the truthfulness of their words – ultimately, Mat did marry her.  I mentioned the obvious lack of love currently between Mat and Tuon, at times it doesn’t even feel as if she has any sort of affection towards, yet I like what Tuon says to Mat regarding this observation:

Love?  Perhaps we will come to love one another, Matrim, but I have always known I would marry to serve the Empire.~Tuon

Mat was raised in a world with a strict outlook on tradition and the tradition surrounding marriage does include feelings of affection and love for the person you choose to marry which clashes greatly with Tuon’s outlook at marriage, as well as the outlook of most nobles as well.  The truth is, the majority noble born individuals aren’t allowed to even consider the idea of marrying for love because marriage is utilized far more as a tool to either form or strengthen alliances in the present and for the future.  Perhaps the marriage between Mat and Tuon will have this type of impact on hostilities between the Seanchan and the Westlands.  The two of them briefly mention this very thought:

The next time I see Seanchan, I expect it will be on the field somewhere, Tuon.  You’re not my enemy, but your Empire is.~Mat

Nor are you my enemy, husband, but I live to serve the Empire.~Tuon

I am excited to witness just how their relationship grows and how their story continues to develop, Mat and Tuon have been my favorite story arc for the last couple novels!

Perrin and Faile

I am going to take a moment for some blunt honesty about this story line because I became rather angered reading some of it and I need to seriously address my issue.  While Faile, Morgase (calling herself Maighdin), Alliandre, and the others were taken gai’shain by the Shaido Aiel they were being protected by members of the Mera’din (or Brotherless) society – something which the Brotherless didn’t have to do.  However, when Perrin arrives looking to rescue Faile she does nothing to help protect Rolan – a man who had done nothing except protect her since she was taken gai’shain – before her husband ultimately kills him, I mean, how fucked up is that?  Three Mera’din who were undeserving of death, died because Perrin wanted his wife back – Rolan who protected and had come to care for Faile, and two others killed by Faile herself and Lacile.  This was such a huge betrayal and I just couldn’t believe it – I was and still am incredibly angered by this because I greatly dislike unnecessarily death and I don’t understand what the purpose of these deaths were especially since they were easily preventable had Perrin given Faile the opportunity to speak to him prior to attacking.  I only became further infuriated upon reading this exchange from Perrin’s point of view:

Did they hurt you? he asked gently.  No.  They….No, Perrin, they didn’t hurt me.  There were other smells mixed in with her joy though, laced through it inextricably.  The dull, aching scent of sadness and the greasy aroma of guilt.  Shame, like thousands of hair-fine needles pricking.  Well, the man was dead, and a woman had the right to keep her secrets if she wanted.

Perrin knows so little of what actually occurred within the Shaido camp that he is beginning to draw conclusions, appearing to assume that Faile had feelings for another man.  *rolls eyes* I mean, I understand that as a reader I have the benefit of objectivity and getting to see both sides of the story, but it just really bothered me that this was his immediate reaction.  Faile is going to have to live the rest of her life knowing that she killed someone undeserving of death and I can only imagine how that feels or how she is going to handle it or how she will even justify her actions…I really don’t know.

Ultimately, I am glad that Perrin and Faile have been reunited – but I am ready to move on to the next stage in their story, I am curious as to how they will continue to deal with the Seanchan and what their role will be in Tarmon Gai’don.

Elayne and the Lion Throne of Andor

Continuity provides stability, and stability brings prosperity.~Dyelin, High Seat of House Taravin

I have had a love-hate relationship with Elayne over the course of the last couple novels, specifically, because of how she is handling herself due Min’s reading regarding Elayne and her pregnancy.  Min had a viewing of Elayne’s aura that she would bear Rand’s children – twins, a boy and a girl.  Due to the fact that what Min views ultimately does happen, Elayne has interpreted Min’s vision to mean that no harm can come to her until the children are born and as such tends to put herself into some questionable and dangerous positions.  Honestly, this is not behavior becoming of a future leader and is incredibly reckless, yet, Elayne takes risks and they continue to work out to her benefit.  Even at the hands of Darkfriends, Elayne remains confident that nothing will harm her and that she will ultimately be saved – which she was thanks to Birgitte and the Windfinders.  I don’t want to see anything happen to her, but I really do hope that Elayne will learn a lesson from her recent capture and will act with more caution.

Now that Elayne has secured the Lion Throne, I am curious as to how her story is going to continue and develop from here.  How will she and Camelyn prepare for Tarmon Gai’don?  Will she make a move for the Sun Throne of Cairhien?  How will relations change between the White Tower (still controlled by Elaida) and Andor?  We know that Elaida sent a representative of her White Tower to attempt to become an adviser to Elayne, however, she was immediately dismissed from Elayne’s presence and the castle not just because of her association with Elaida but because of her sheer rudeness as well.  Elayne is also the first Aes Sedai ruler in recent history, what kind of affect will this have on her rule?  I want to see her develop into the successful queen that she hopes to be.

Egwene and the White Tower

You may have convinced yourself I am no longer Amyrlin, but it’s time to start convincing yourself that I still am.~Egwene

I am absolutely in love with Egwene al’Vere!~  What I love so much about Egwene is that she remains true to who she is even in the face of adversity, unwilling to compromise who she is no matter how many times they attempt to strip her of her identity as Amyrlin Seat.  To the Aes Sedai of the White Tower, acknowledging Egwene as the Amyrlin Seat in truth would be seen as a betrayal of the White Tower, yet, it is known to the readers that Elaida didn’t follow Tower law completely in the removal of Siuan Sanche and her own eventual ascent to the Amyrlin Seat.  Yet, Egwene was raised Amyrlin Seat in truth following the letter of Aes Sedai law except that it took place outside of the White Tower in Tar Valon after the controversial raising of Elaida.  It is a complicated issue and I am more impressed by what Egwene has done as Amyrlin than what Elaida has done, especially since Elaida has done nothing but alienate not only herself, but the White Tower from Rand by attempting to capture him.  I mean, it is common sense that if you want to form some sort of relations with someone that you shouldn’t just blatantly capture them.  I am excited to see how Egwene’s story is going to continue to progress – I hope that she is able to bring down Elaida from the inside and take on her role as Amyrlin Seat in truth inside the White Tower.

Rand al’Thor, The Dragon Reborn – An Emotionless Rock?

Stone cracks from a hard enough blow.  Steel shatters.  The oak fights the wind and breaks.  The willow bends where it must and survives.~Cadsuane

There are so many powerful quotes which have been said over the course of this series, but I think that Cadsuane continues to hit the nail on the head in regards to Rand and his continued lack of emotional response with this quote.  Rand is just…so disconnected from everything around him – I would go so far as to say that he is living in a dissociative state, constantly living in a state of shock after the major traumas he has endured.  Rand has gone through so so so much since he left Two Rivers, he has suffered a lot but he has also gained a great deal as well.  What frightens me the most about Rand is that he has resigned himself to accepting his impending death, a death prophesied to him by the Aelfinn when he asked:  “How can I win the Last Battle and survive?,” the Aelfinn responded by saying, “The east and north must be as one.  The west and south must be as one.  The two must be as one.  To live you must die.”  While this brings to light why Rand was attempting to create alliances across the whole of the Westlands, there isn’t much information given as to what is meant by “To live you must die” other than possible allusions to sacrificing himself.  I honestly don’t know what the Aelfinn meant and am going to have to just wait and see.  I only hope that Rand learns how to feel again…

Moving on from Rand’s emotional needs, I admit that I was a bit surprised by Rand’s choice to meet with the Seanchan though I do agree that it is necessary.  Although, coming across Semirhage, one of the Forsaken, attempting to impersonate the heir to the Seanchan throne wasn’t exactly expected and that meeting definitely didn’t go as expected.  What exactly is Rand going to do with Semirhage now that he has her?  I mean, I am not sure how exactly he could benefit from holding her captive, yet it isn’t like he can just let her go either.  Is he cold enough that he can torture her?  Granted, Semirhage is the Forsaken that specializes in pain and torture, so I highly doubt that Rand and his group will be able to garner any information from her utilizing torture.  Semirhage impersonating the Seanchan heir is pretty shady and I am curious how this is going to impact further relations between Rand and the Seanchan?  I know that Tuon had nothing to do with this and even went about punishing the one responsible for it, but Rand doesn’t know that yet and I can only imagine that Rand is going to see this as a huge negative against all Seanchan.  I do hope that Rand will give Tuon a chance and that they will come to some sort of agreement prior to Tarmon Gai’don.

TL;DR REVIEW:  4.75 out of 5 stars.  Knife of Dreams was close to perfect and I greatly enjoyed everything about it.  This book has given me so much to look forward to over the final trilogy and I can only hope that Brandon Sanderson did well to honor the memory and the world created by Robert Jordan.  It is time to begin the A Memory of Light Trilogy, starting with The Gathering Storm.

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