The Wheel of Time – Series Review Part 4

This post will cover books eleven through fourteen. I have one more post in the works in which I’ll review the series as a whole. For now, time to roll the dice:

Book 11 – Knife of Dreams

Kod_ebook

Knife of Dreams, Book Eleven of The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan. Published by Tor Books.

Rand al’Thor senses that The Last Battle is very near, but he doesn’t risk fighting the Dark One’s forces with the Seanchan invaders at his back. He determines to either make peace with them, or at least forge a temporary truce. But one of the Forsaken stalks Rand, and is ready to spring her trap. Mat Cauthon meets up with the Band of the Red Hand in the nick of time as the Seanchan have mysteriously sent a large force to hunt and kill Tuon. Lucky for Mat, few commanders have his prowess, and it will take all of his skill and luck to protect Tuon from her own armies. Perrin and his army are ready to confront the Shaido at Malden after making uneasy truces with the zealous Prophet and the Seanchan invaders. However, more is at risk than defeating the Shaido and rescuing Faile as Perrin must fight to maintain his own sanity. Finally, Egwene is a captive in Tar Valon, but the Aes Sedai in the White Tower may be underestimating the young innkeeper’s daughter from Emond’s Field.

Finally! After several books worth of many plot threads slowing to a crawl, we finally get some resolution. There are a few large battles in this book and lots of character development in comparison to books nine and ten. The character development is mainly limited to the supporting cast as the main cast still has a few books to go. The pacing is still far from perfect as the first half of the book drags on as badly as Crossroads of Twilight, and all the excitement happens in the latter half of the book. And it’s a lot of excitement with these battles. Jordan again proves he is an expert at writing large scale conflicts. The battles are excellent and the second half of the book is unputdownable as these battles tie up some plot threads and are pretty explosive. This book is made all the better after reading Crossroads of Twilight by the simple fact that things actually happen.

Book 12 – The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm

The Gathering Storm, Book Twelve of The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Published by Tor Books.

The Forsaken stalking Rand has sprung her trap and it has cost him dearly. He perseveres, but the Dark One and the Forsaken are not finished with him yet. Meanwhile, those closest to Rand are beginning to fear the hardness of his heart. Knowing that Rand cannot defeat the Dark One when his own soul has grown so dark, they begin a desperate search to find the one man who may be able to help him. Meanwhile, Egwene’s success at undermining the leadership of the White Tower is proving successful. However, the Seanchan, knowing that defeating the White Tower is a key to their victory, plan a hit and run attack to capture or kill as many Aes Sedai as possible. If the White Tower is going to survive the attack and fulfill its role in The Last Battle, the Aes Sedai will need to heal the rift between themselves.

Robert Jordan, the author of The Wheel of Time series, passed away tragically young prior to completing what he intended to be the last book in the series. His widow, Harriet McDougal asked Brandon Sanderson, the author of Mistborn and Elantris, to complete the series. The two of them determined that three more books would be needed, and this is the first of the three written by Sanderson. Sadly, it shows. I can’t blame Sanderson on one hand; finishing this series would be a daunting task for anyone. However, much as I love Sanderson’s own novels, I don’t think that he had developed enough as a writer to tackle concluding the series, at least not at this point. He doesn’t have a grasp of the characters yet, and doesn’t seem to feel comfortable writing in this world. The plot putters along slowly and most of the book is spent with Rand and Egwene ruminating. Rand’s chapters are particularly bogged down considering how dark his character becomes in this book. Still, there is an exciting battle that takes place, and Rand’s character does develop. I won’t lie that I didn’t necessarily find Rand’s development at the end of the book to be completely believable, but perhaps that’s just my opinion.

Book 13 – Towers of Midnight

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Towers of Midnight, Book Thirteen of The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Published by Tor Books.

With The Last Battle fast approaching, Rand reveals that he plans to break the seal on the Dark One’s prison to Egwene. Fearing that Rand has finally gone mad, Egwene reaches out to rulers across the world to oppose her old friend from Emond’s Field. Meanwhile, Perrin and his army are making their way slowly back to Andor when they are confronted by an army of Whitecloaks led by Galad Damodred. The Whitecloaks demand that Perrin answer for his crimes, and Perrin reluctantly agrees to a trial. But one of the Forsaken has turned her attention to killing Perrin as it has been revealed that he will play a key part in The Last Battle. Finally, Mat has returned to Andor, but the monster that has been hunting him since he escaped Ebou Dar is still hot on his trail. It will take all of Mat’s luck and cunning to defeat the monster, but he must hurry as an old friend’s life hangs in the balance and Mat is the only one who can save her.

Well, it only took one book for Sanderson to hit his stride. He seems to have a grasp of the characters and feels more comfortable writing in their world. Sanderson weaves the various plot and character threads deftly, and many dangling plot threads are brought to conclusion in this book. Where the focus in The Gathering Storm was primarily centered on Rand, Towers of Midnight turns its focus onto Perrin and Mat. Mat’s character development largely concludes in this book, and Perrin’s comes very close. There is one large battle that is pretty exciting, but mostly this book focuses on smaller, but still very important conflicts. The pacing still isn’t perfect, but it’s better than many of the other books in the series. Everything comes to a satisfying conclusion, but The Last Battle is coming.

Book 14 – A Memory of Light

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A Memory of Light, Book Fourteen of The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. Published by Tor Books.

The time has come! Rand al’Thor is meeting with the vast majority of the world’s leaders and their armies at the Field of Merrilor to discuss treaties and battle plans. However, the Dark One’s forces are not waiting. The Borderland country of Kandor has already been overrun and Lan is fighting a desperate battle against Trollocs at Tarwin’s Gap in the country of Shienar. In order to defeat the Dark One’s forces, the armies of the Light must divide and conquer. But the Forsaken are still plotting behind the scenes, and in order for there to be any chance of victory they must defeated. When the time is right, Rand makes his way to the Dark One’s prison to engage in a contest of wills for the fate of the world. But Rand is just one man, and the Darkness is infinite.

The end has come in more ways than one! The build up through fourteen previous books (if you include the prequel) all comes to a head in A Memory of Light, and what a fantastic way to end the series it turn out to be. It starts off kind of slow similarly to The Shadow Rising, but, like that book, once the boulder starts rolling downhill it doesn’t stop. Essentially, the whole book is one huge battle on various fronts. And even though most of the main cast’s character development has concluded, Sanderson still finds ways to make them develop, and brings development to many minor characters as well. The climax lasts for hundreds of pages, and is so exciting you won’t want to stop reading. Rand’s confrontation with the Dark One is particularly exciting as, despite all the build up through the series, it wasn’t what I expected it to be. I won’t really say much about the ending. All I’ll say is that it was both excellent and unexpected. After all, there are no beginnings or endings to The Wheel of Time.

That concludes this post. I’m going to make one more post tomorrow where I’ll review the series as a whole. I’m also going to write a tl;dr and include it after my series review for those who just want the nitty gritty without having to read five posts of reviews and summaries.

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