Crossroads of Twilight – Part 2

Having finished Crossroads of Twilight for the third time, it’s surprising just how much this book shrinks the scale from the previous books.  The biggest single plot event of this entire book takes place in the last chapter.  So I’ll say it again, if you’re reading this book trying to focus on the plot that has been building more and more over the previous books, take a step back and realize that this book focuses more on the characters.  It’s a slower read than some of the earlier books, but if this book weren’t here, parts of the later books would seem very out of place.  So now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to talking about what did happen in this book.

One of the first things that I’m going to talk about deals with one of my favorite characters in the series and one of his best moments to this point in the series.  Perrin’s search for Faile has gone on for some time, and he comes to a breaking point.  After some of the Shaido are captured, he considers torturing them to find out what they know about Faile, he’s quickly told that they won’t succumb to torture.  This is one of the few times that Perrin ever snaps throughout the entire series.  He cuts off the Shaido’s hand and threatens to leave all of them alive but maimed.  Afterwards he walks into the forest and slams his axe into a tree and leaves it there, saying that some “fool gleeman” can make up a story about it.

I love this scene because it does a perfect job of showing just how stressed Perrin is.  But even when he is pushed beyond the breaking point, it still rings true to his character.  This is also a great example of two other things that I’ve talked about before, Jordan’s foreshadowing and just how mean he can be to his characters.  In the first book when Perrin meets Elyas, Elyas tells him to get rid of the axe once he stops hating it.  This also shows how mean Jordan is to his characters.  This scene is so well written that I could easily see myself opening up the book just to read this one scene (as it is, I’ve already done that with a couple of scenes from the later books, one from book 12 and one from book 13).  I love this scene.

Another fun aspect of this book is watching Mat and Tuon.  About 2/3 of the way through the book, Mat realizes that he went through with his half of the Seanchan marriage ceremony, and he knows from the Aelfinn that Tuon will eventually finish the ceremony and marry him, but he doesn’t know when.  So he ends up trying to court her, and it’s an interesting proposal at best.  I’ve talked before about how different all of the cultures in this book are, and this section illustrates it better than just about any other part of the series.  It’s also a very fun and lighthearted series of events in the midst of what is becoming an increasingly darker and more serious story.  And once again this is a strength of Jordan’s, he knows that he needs to have some lighter moments to balance the rest of the series.

Another big part of this book deals with Egwene and the siege of Tar Valon.  Egwene has done a lot to make sure that the rest of the Aes Sedai realize that she is the Amyrlin, and she continues that throughout the course of this book.  She shows how well she looks ahead in this book, planning the siege and hiding how she is going to overcome the biggest challenge of the siege, blocking the river.  Egwene learned how to make Cuendillar, and she plans to turn the large chains that the city uses to close their harbors against them by turning the to Cuendillar so that they can’t open them, effectively cutting off the river.  But then after she converts one of the chains to Cuendillar, she is captured after someone else realized that she was channeling.  And there we’re left with a big cliffhanger for the next book.

So once again, this is one of the hardest books to get through, but at the same time, it really is one of the stronger books of the series.  Finishing it also means that I’m only three books away from reading A Memory of Light, I can’t wait.

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