Knife of Dreams

I was going to stop halfway through the book and split my thoughts up into two sections since I’ve been splitting every book into multiple parts thus far, but I wanted to finish Knife of Dreams this weekend, so I decided to wait until I finished the book and to talk about the book all at once.

The first thing you notice when you’re reading this book as compared to Crossroads of Twilight is that this book immediately looks forward whereas Crossroads was mostly reflecting on the events of Winter’s Heart.  In the prologue we see Perrin meeting with Galina and planning on how to free Faile.  We also see Galad becoming the Lord Captain Commander of the Children of the Light, which is just one more example of the countless times throughout this series that we see a character who was young and largely inexperienced when the series began rising to a place of great authority.

But it’s time to start talking about all of the characters that we’ve followed for the rest of the series.  I’ll start with Egwene since she’s the first viewpoint character that we get to (as good a reason as any to start there).  After the Aes Sedai still in the tower kidnap Egwene, she immediately notices all of the divisions that have been created in the tower, inadvertently by Elaida and deliberately by Alviarin.  The way she goes about trying to subvert Elaida’s power is inventive and works well to show she has become over the course of 11 books.  She immediately tells the rebels outside of the tower not to rescue her, even though it would be easy to do since those Aes Sedai know how to travel while those in the tower do not.  It’s interesting to watch how she goes about her goal, quietly resisting all of the Aes Sedai, undermining their authority while showing her own strength of character.

It’s also interesting to watch how Perrin goes about working to rescue Faile, as he says making a ‘deal with the dark one’ by seeking the help of the Seanchan.  But the more interesting part of watching this part of the story is watching how Perrin continues to grow as a leader, being willing to take responsibility when he needs to and showing a willingness to make difficult decisions even when he doesn’t want to.  It also works to show his resourcefulness and willingness to use everything he has at hand.  Everything from the letter Masema had from Suroth, to the Ashaman, Raken, and forkroot tea, everything he has at his disposal goes into his plan to rescue Faile.  It’s also a reminder of how far he has come that when he finally does rescue Faile, the Seanchan banner-general he was working with says that she would not want to meet him on the field of battle, not bad for a blacksmith after all.

But now it’s time to get back to one of my favorite pairings in the entire series, Mat and Tuon.  Both characters have plenty of secrets, and they come out over the course of the time that they spend traveling together.  After several chapters from Mat’s point of view where he says that he will never understand Tuon, it’s interesting to see a chapter from her viewpoint where she says that she doesn’t understand him at all.  It’s also very entertaining to see the way that Mat deals with the Seanchan army and works to help Tuon escape from those who are following her.  Their interaction was easily the high point of this book and largely the high point of the last book as well.  Seeing Mat’s reaction once Tuon completes the marriage ceremony is another fun moment between them.

And speaking of Mat as a general, he also figures out what Aludra wanted with a bellfounder after she asked him that question two or three books ago.  She wants to use her fireworks as a weapon, she names it a Dragon but it’s very easy for us to see that she’s talking about making cannons, which would be a great change to the way that war has been waged throughout the history of the world in these books.

Elayne also goes through a lot in this book.  She finally makes the progress towards becoming queen, and in the process also manages to capture several Aes Sedai who are of the Black Ajah.  She’s another character who becomes more assertive in her personality, this was shown clearly when an Aes Sedai advisor was sent from Elaida to help Elayne, and she is quickly told off and sent away.  It’s also interesting to watch how she interacts with Birgitte, especially once she and Elayne realize that they begin to mirror each other’s emotions that they share through the Warder bond.

This book has another one of my favorite scenes from the series (I’ve notice that I have a lot of favorite scenes in this series, but then again it’s 14 books long and there are an awful lot to choose from) involves Nynaeve and Lan.  After a large trolloc attack, Lan feels as though he should be in the blight fighting his war there.  Of course Nynaeve agrees to send him.  But rather than leaving him close to Malkier, she leaves him on the far western end of the blight, at World’s End.  She then visits several towns along the blight, and though it only shows her interacting with people in one of those towns, it’s a very powerful scene.  So many scenes in this series are powerful because of the buildup that Jordan does for them, in several cases leaving tens of thousands of pages between the setup and payoff, which just makes it that much more effective.  Talk about the fall of Malkier and Lan’s heritage as well as his personal war with the blight starts from book 1.  There was also talk that if he ever claimed the crown of Malkier he would raise an army, well, he doesn’t do so on his own, but Nynaeve pushes him towards doing so, and the result is yet another great scene.

Hmm, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to talk about Rand would it?  He has two major aspects to his storyline in this book.  The first occurs during the trolloc attack that I mentioned earlier with Lan.  The biggest part here is showing that he is not completely in control of himself as Lews Therin is able to seize control of the power rather than Rand.  The second comes later after he deliberately walks into what he thinks could be a trap.  It ultimately ends with him capturing Semhirage, but she explains what has been happening to Rand throughout the course of the past 5 or 6 books with his hearing the voice of Lews Therin.  Apparently from time to time when a person is reborn in the pattern, they contain the minds of both themselves and the person who they are reborn from.  It’s interesting to see an explanation of everything that Rand has been going through for the past several books, and also a warning of what may come for him.  While she admits that Graendal knew more about it than she did, Semhirage knows enough of Rand’s condition to know that it usually doesn’t end well for those who suffer from it.

All of the earlier books have been laying the groundwork for a huge conclusion to the series, and this is really the beginning of the end of the series.  The first five books are really an introduction, ending with Moiraine dying at the end of book five, and the next five books show the characters gaining positions of power, largely ending with Rand cleansing the source at the end of book 9 (once again, book 10 largely covers the same time period as book 9).  And the final 4 books are the lead up and execution of the final battle.  It also means that I’m that much closer to reading A Memory of Light, and I still can’t wait to get started on it.

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