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Well, after about a month of procrastination, I'm finally getting around to doing the final blog post in my series of "Wheel of Time read through" responses. Thanks to all of those who emailed me reminding me I'd never gotten around to writing a post about Book Eleven. Also, those of you at LJ, it looks like my blog-posting software skipped updating the post I did earlier in the week, so here's a link to it on my own website. You didn't miss much, just a little update explaining that I was done with the grading last week and had moved on to continuing AMoL. (Also, forgive any typos in the following. I wrote it really fast, since I've still got a thousand words or so of AMoL I need to get done tonight.)
I find several things curious about Knife of Dreams. First, the pacing. This is the first book I remember feeling was moving directly toward an ending of the series. We resolve Elayne's plot to a large measure, Mat and Tuon get married, and Perrin rescues his wife. Those three things all complete major, multi-book arcs and set us up for Book Twelve. I've gotten some emails from somewhat snide readers who claim that they don't believe Mr. Jordan was planning to end the series with Book Twelve, but even if I hadn't seen the notes (which DO prove this book was to be the last) I would have believed in good faith that the ending was coming. Though I enjoy the more lethargic pacing of the previous couple books, Book Eleven's more breakneck resolution of concepts was also refreshing, if only as proof that an ending WAS coming.
I'm not sure if Mr. Jordan is responding to comments on Book Ten by doing so much in Book Eleven. My instinct says that he wasn't. None of these plot resolutions felt rushed; they were simply all paced in such a way that book ten ended up being the 'middle' book in a lot of ways. It wasn't introducing new plots and it wasn't resolving them. It was, however, building for what happened in this book.
It was strange reading Knife of Dreams this time as I felt a little like it is directed specifically at me. This book was, in a metaphorical sense, the 'pitch' toward me. It's the lead-in, and it was pitched quit well, directly on line. It's my job to hit that perfect pitch and send it flying.
In the way of more specific responses to the book, I was very curious to discover that my favorite character for this volume was Egwene. I found it very compelling to read about her now that her power base has been completely removed from her. I remember the end of the previous volume, where she gets captured, thinking "Not again!" (Not that she'd been captured before, but after all the times Rand has been through that, I wasn't sure I wanted to read it again.)
However, reading Book Eleven, I reversed my opinion. One sure-fire way to make a strong plot is to put a strong character into a position of weakness. In essence, the only thing she has as an advantage IS her strength, and she uses it to great effectiveness in this book. I believe this is the first place where she convinced me that she really is the Amyrlin.
Mat and Tuon were fun to read, as always. Mat has been a real treat in these last books, and I enjoyed reading through again and looking to see what clues there are about Moiraine. (Though it's less mysterious to me now that I have the materials for Book Twelve.) It was good to finally get some resolution with Perrin, though I feel there is still a lot of emotional conflict there to work out. Beyond that, I guess the only response I'll give is that I think this book has my favorite of the prologues. The fight between Galad and Valda was superb.
I'll try to post some annotations/Warbreaker chapters Saturday.
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