In this entry, we officially conclude Knife of Dreams, unfortunately the final entry Robert Jordan wrote in the series, and quite a bit occurs indeed, from Darkfriend attacks to (finally) a conclusion to the succession of Andor, from a touching marriage to a thrilling battle against the Seanchan, from the Daughter of the Nine Moons to the Lord of Chaos!
Chapter 31: The House on Full Moon Street
Elayne receives Duhara Basaheen, a supposed advisor sent by Elaida to counsel her. Elaida demands that Elayne return to the Tower to finish her training. She refuses and orders Duhara to leave the palace. Norry later approaches with Hark, who reports he followed Mellar to a house on Full Moon Street belonging to Lady Shiaine Avarhin. There are two Aes Sedai present, identifiable as Marillin and Falion. Elayne orders Mellar’s arrest, and she decides to confront Shiaine and the Darkfriends with Birgitte and the Aes Sedai. They approach the house, and one of the Warders handles the guard. Elayne links with Sareitha, Vandene with Careane, and enter in the back of the house. They bind and shield the three Darkfriends, but are suddenly attacked by Asne, Temaile, Chesmal, and Eldrith. Marillin requests that Careane is spared, as she is Black. Vandene manages to stab her before being killed with Sareitha.
Wow, an exciting Elayne chapter. A really exciting one. That’s a surprise. So I figured we would learn the identity of the traitor pretty soon, but I never expected all of the Aes Sedai to die! Especially considering this is WoT, where most protagonists (hell, most antagonists, too) rarely die. That’s…tragic. I’m not sure how to react to Careane being the killer, as she and Sareitha were almost indistinguishable, in terms of character. If the killer ended up being a character that was clearly defined and, well, important, like Merilille or even Vandene herself, such a revelation would have been staggering, but I’m rather ambivalent to Careane being the killer, as I had absolutely no opinion on her beforehand. Of course, it’s horrible what she did to Adeleas and I was ecstatic when Vandene got her revenge, but the scene truly became memorable when the Darkfriends killed all of them. I didn’t expect that. I know Vandene had something of a death wish, and I have no qualms about Careane dying, but Sareitha ended up being completely innocent! Wow…
But let’s discuss the fact Mellar and the Darkfriend gang have been outed, and forced to play their card. I’ve been waiting for this since TPoD! Interesting how Mellar (might as well call him Hanlon now) wasn’t even present when this all went down. I almost thought he escaped somehow until I remembered he had obviously been arrested by the guards in the Palace. I also didn’t expect the two Darkfriend groups (who we haven’t seen work together before) unite. I had a feeling Elayne’s plan to confront Shiaine and the Black sisters wasn’t going to work out well, but I didn’t expect the four other sisters to intervene! That complicated the situation considerably. How will Elayne get out of this? There’re six Black sisters and a ruthless Darkfriend for her to overpower! She doesn’t even have the Aes Sedai at her side anymore. Well, at least Hanlon is out of the picture, for now…
Anyway, a very exciting chapter. I’m so relieved Jordan is finally speeding up this storyline, which, more than any, has been stuffed with needless filler and pacing problems. A final comment on the ambassador from Elaida, whose introduction I almost forgot, considering what else happened in the chapter: how obtuse can some of these Aes Sedai be? My god, Elaida was clueless sending this woman. But, of course, I feel Duhara will remain in Caemlyn to complicate matters for Elayne. Wonderful.
Chapter 32: To Keep the Bargain
The Warders sense trouble in the house. They suddenly draw swords and run towards the house. Birgitte and the Guardswomen race back to the palace, sensing Elayne’s movement. She sends for the Windfinders and Captain Guybon. Dyelin reports there are attacks in progress on the northern wall. She protests the movement of soldiers that would leave Caemlyn vulnerable to Arymilla. It is revealed the other claimants are approaching Caemlyn. Birgitte orders the Windfinders to link to make a gateway for the soldiers. A wounded soldier reveals that some of the mercenaries betrayed Elayne and are attacking the Far Madding Gate from within. Birgitte allows Dyelin to take some of the gathered forces to defend the gate, and leads the remainder to the road outside the city using the gateway. Birgitte has the Windfinders follow to see something. The armsmen assault the Darkfriends’ wagon, and the ter’angreal starts balefiring the army. The Windfinders reluctantly agree to participate, and strike the woman with the ter’angreal. Birgitte orders the surviving Darkfriends be taken alive.
What a clever idea, depicting the rescue from Birgitte’s perspective! Well, I suppose it makes perfect sense. The whole scene wouldn’t have been very riveting if depicted from Elayne’s perspective, being captured in the wagon. I just expected, after the last chapter, to at least see some of the ensuing chaos from Elayne’s point of view. But I loved seeing Birgitte leap into action, gather the soldiers, and rescue Elayne! This was a very intriguing battle, and I didn’t even expect a huge battle scene to result out of the kidnapping. Were all those soldiers really necessary? Then I realized Birgitte’s plan was to stir the otherwise-stubborn Windfinders into action.
I suppose I cannot claim the Sea Folk haven’t contributed anything to the plot anymore. Without their aid, Elayne wouldn’t have been rescued, right? Argh, so the Windfinders can be helpful. But even in this scene, they had to watch countless soldiers get balefired after being dragged to the site of Elayne’s kidnapping by Birgitte before grudgingly deciding to help out, not out of any loyalty or compassion, but because of their damn bargain. Argh indeed.
So not all that much else to comment on this chapter, as much of it was just exciting action. It’s important to note the mercenaries’ betrayal, though. I guess that made the earlier chapter about them relevant. This whole chapter read as if all hell had broken loose, Elayne getting captured at the same moment as the mercenaries started attacking the gate, forcing Dyelin to draw from Birgitte’s forces. Perfect timing, huh?
Chapter 33: Nine Out of Ten
Elayne is bound inside the wagon, but Min’s viewing assures her of survival. She senses the battle raging outside, and is rescued by Birgitte. Asne was killed in the battle, the others captured. Birgitte informs Elayne of Arymilla’s assault. The Windfinders make a gateway to south of the Far Madding Gate. Guybon leads forces to attack from behind, and Dyelin leads soldiers from the gates, amongst them the three young noblemen. Arymilla’s surrounded soldiers eventually surrender. Arymilla, Elenia, and Naean are imprisoned, to be ransomed. Sylvase announces Nasin’s death, allowing her to declare for Elayne, offering the services of her torturer. Lir and Karind declare for Trakand as well, leaving Elayne in need of only one further House.
So we did end up seeing a little of the capture from Elayne’s perspective! And being all tied up like that, it makes even further sense everything was depicted from Birgitte’s point-of-view. I still can’t believe how quickly this plotline has been moving. These last three chapters are riveting. First Elayne finally confronts the Darkfriends, then we finally learn who the killer was, then the Aes Sedai are tragically killed, then the Darkfriends kidnap Elayne, then Birgitte rescues her in an exciting battle scene, and now Elayne manages, in about fifteen pages, to defeat Arymilla’s soldiers and end (well, almost end) this damn succession at long last. Wow.
As ecstatic as I am to see Arymilla defeated and this plotline finally wrapped up, I was expecting to see some more from Elenia and Naean, if only because of that overlong chapter from CoT setting up events of actual interest from the claimants’ perspective. But in the end, Arymilla remained a completely uninteresting villain, and Elenia and Naean never attempted to escape. I have a feeling Sylvase will be important, though, just in the way her entrance was written. Thank god that Nasin’s dead, he creeped the hell outta me in CoT. But Sylvase seems just as reprehensible, although in a different manner.
But most importantly, Elayne just needs one more House, and this is all officially over. Finally. It was rather amusing, if a little tonally jarring, that both the captured Darkfriends and the surrendering claimants ended up bickering amongst one another as they were imprisoned. Of all things to complain about, the Black sisters decided to argue about precedence? Wow. And only Asne died in the battle, I sort of expected more of the sisters to have perished. However, as opposed to the antagonists of the Shaido storyline, I expect these villains (well, at least the Darkfriends) to return, rather than their fate remain being merely imprisoned. We haven’t even seen Hanlon, and I have a feeling he, at least, will cause more trouble before this is all over.
Chapter 34: A Cup of Kaf
Furyk Karede approaches a camp in Altara. He enters the command tent of Banner-General Loune, who reluctantly informs Karede of the desperate situation against Mat’s forces. Loune’s forces have been constantly assaulted by an unknown guerilla army, men torn apart by explosions that damane are certain weren’t caused by the Power. General Chisen is bringing his army from the Malvide Narrows for support. Karede decides to ride there himself.
Very little to comment on this chapter, it appears to set up the conclusion to Mat’s storyline more than anything. It’s amazing how much progress the second half of this book has been making. First Perrin’s arc for the last three or four books was concluded in a rather awesome manner, then Elayne’s storyline finally made headway (I’m willing to bet she’ll be Queen before this book ends), and now everything is setting up a final clash between Mat and the Seanchan. Then will he finally leave Altara and put all this behind him? One can hope!
I can’t help but like Karede, even though his presence in the region only serves to complicate Mat’s escape further. He seems competent, as opposed to some of the Seanchan getting their asses soundly kicked by Mat’s tactical brilliance. Well, I can’t wait for the inevitable confrontation!
Chapter 35: The Importance of Dyelin
The neutral Houses have arrived before Caemlyn, and request safe passage for an audience. Dyelin continues to firmly support Elayne for Queen. The prisoners have refused to talk. Elayne decides to utilize Sylvase’s secretary. The nobles arrive, and Luan proposes a truce to contend with the Borderlanders. Elayne reveals the truth, and the provocative Ellorien is infuriated. Abelle and Luan decide to stand for House Trakand, as do Arathelle, Pelivar, and Aemlyn, although Elayne infers they only do so because of Dyelin. Ellorien grudgingly offers her support, but Elayne remains suspicious.
Now it’s over. Finally. I can’t say I enjoyed the majority of Elayne’s succession storyline, nor saw the necessity in dragging it out for so long, but these last few chapters of hers have been brilliant. There isn’t too much to remark about this chapter. It really is the long-awaited conclusion to the succession. Now Elayne’s Queen. I’m actually curious to see where her storyline will go from this. For the last few books, all I could think about was this slow-moving succession, and now that it’s finally over, what now? Elayne’s Queen, so there’ll be relative stability in Andor. That can only help for the oncoming Last Battle. Of course, not all of the loose ends have been perfectly tied up, the Darkfriends are still alive, albeit imprisoned, and it seems both Ellorien and Sylvase may stir trouble in the future. But for the most part, I think I can expect peace in Andor until Tarmon Gai’don. So will Elayne claim the throne to Cairhien, as Rand intended? Hopefully that doesn’t cause any complications. Speaking of Rand, how will he react to this succession resolving? I know he intends to keep his distance from Elayne, for her sake, but will he make use of a stable Andor and the armies in Elayne’s control?
Chapter 36: Under an Oak
Furyk Karede rides a large party into Mat’s encampment, and is surprised by the amount of soldiers. He asks to speak with Thom Merillin and informs him that Chisen’s army will appear shortly. Karede offers to allow them safe passage if they relinquish Tuon. Thom reveals that Mat is the general, who asks if Tuon can be safely returned to Ebou Dar. Tuon trusts Karede completely, and Mat agrees to allow Karede to escort her. Tuon announces that Mat is her husband three times, completing the marriage ceremony.
The dice stop in Mat’s head. He explains about the twisted red doorway, and Tuon explains the Foretelling from Lidya. She recognized Mat would be her husband from the ring (with a fox startling two ravens), his memory of Hawkwing’s face, his leading the Band of the Red Hand, his kidnapping of her, and finally his liberation of her. Mat has Karede leave him some Deathwatch Guards so he can lure away the nearby soldiers seeking the bounty on Tuon’s head.
Tuon decides to remove the veil, once again the Daughter of the Nine Moons.
This was an excellently-written chapter. Jordan writes these clashes of cultures brilliantly, which is why I’ve enjoyed Tuon’s perspectives, as well as Karede’s. This scene was just very tense, but filled with some amusing and touching moments as well. This whole conspiracy Karede and the Seanchan have been convinced about concerning Thom and the Aes Sedai is rather amusing, and it was awesome to see Mat finally garner the recognition he deserved for his campaign here, rather than ‘General’ Merillin. First Tuon gained a respect for Mat in witnessing him in his element, and now Karede’s perspective of Mat as ‘Tylin’s Toy’ has been shattered, which is so cathartic after the madness Mat has had to endure for the last few books. His frustration has been really palpable in this arc, and who can blame him?
To be honest, I expected disaster during this confrontation. I thought it would’ve resulted in a battle. I certainly didn’t expect Mat to relinquish Tuon, then marry her, and then work with some of Karede’s soldiers to divert the nearby Seanchan seeking to kill Tuon! Again, Jordan has displayed his ability to shock and surprise, something I certainly missed in CoT. But it’s rather sad that Tuon has to leave Mat the moment their little romance was resolved. Obviously, it wasn’t the typical romance, and it seems Tuon was only marrying because of the Foretelling (but so was Mat, to an extent, although it was apparent he had come to love Tuon at this point). Yet despite some of Tuon’s incidents (I still can’t completely get over that a’dam incident earlier), I’ve come to enjoy her as a character, and it was certainly a melancholy separation she’s had with Mat. But it’s also a relief to see this long-prolonged storyline come to a close! Mat has finally married the Daughter of the Nine Moons, and the Foretelling has finally been revealed (and it explains so much)!
Chapter 37: Prince of the Ravens
Mat prepares his forces for the oncoming Seanchan army. Vanin appears, warning of the army’s approach. Aludra sends up a nightflower. The crossbowmen attack the assailants from the front, Talmanes and his cavalry from behind. Hand grenades crafted by Aludra are thrown at the soldiers. The Aes Sedai eventually participate as well. The battle quickly concludes, and the traitor who sought to kill Tuon is revealed, the head to be returned to Tuon immediately. Musenge insists on calling Mat Highness, as he is now Prince of the Ravens.
This wasn’t a typical WoT finale, but then, this wasn’t a typical WoT novel. As awesome as Mat’s battle with the Seanchan was, it can’t really compare to the cleansing of saidin or Dumai’s Wells or the duel with Rahvin and whatnot. Yet I don’t think this book was intended to have that sort of conclusion. And I can’t complain, considering how many loose ends were tied up in this eventful book, and how many battles it featured! There was some brilliant symmetry between the storylines of Mat, Perrin, and Elayne throughout the novel, the first two especially. Both started out with some slower chapters, but after the incredible stagnance of CoT, their overlong arcs finally made significant progress, with some action featuring Darkfriend assassinations and the Dark One’s touches. And then the conclusion was nigh, Mat planning to fight his way out of Altara, Perrin planning an elaborate siege of Malden. Elayne’s storyline saw considerable progress, there were some awesome battles, just as with Mat and Perrin. Now we see the conclusion of Mat’s arc, his long-overdue escape from Altara, his grapple with destiny resolved with his marriage.
And while this particular ending won’t rank all that high in my list of favorite WoT conclusions, there was something brilliant about Mat, who merely wanted a bit of normality in his tumultuous life, apart from the nobles, married the soon-to-be-Empress of the Seanchan and became the Prince of the Ravens, a noble himself. That’s quite an ending in itself.
Suroth converses with Galgan in the military headquarters of Tarasin Palace. News has spread of the Empress’ death and chaos in the Empire. Galgan intends to promote Tylee Khirgan to Lieutenant-General. Chisen has not located the army in northern Altara. Tuon enters with the head of Elbar, announcing that Suroth is no more, to be made da’covale to the Deathwatch Guard until she can be auctioned as a slave.
Pevara and a party of Reds, including Javindhra and Tarna, Travel to the Black Tower. They request audience with the M’Hael. They are eventually brought before Taim’s throne room, where a hundred hostile Asha’man stand ominously. Pevara presents her offer. Taim nearly kills an Asha’man who protests, and then quickly agrees to the request. He quites the old saying ‘Let the lord of chaos rule’ and the Asha’man laugh.
This was an unusually long epilogue, considering whenever Jordan chooses to have one of these, they’re very brief and cliffhanger-ish. This one was less cliffhanger than resolution, although that chilling final paragraph could certainly qualify as a cliffhanger.
Let’s talk about Suroth. First of all, I’m a little irritated that in all of the loose ends being wrapped up in this book, all seem to involve the antagonists surviving captured. Some of these villains have been around since the beginning and I’ve been eager to see their demises. This isn’t a huge complaint, as for all I know, some of these villains may appear later in the series, and death isn’t always the most fitting fate for an antagonist. Yet it’s all but certain Galina’s ultimate fate is being Therava’s slave to torment. Similarly, I feel Sevanna and Suroth will disappear from this series as da’covale to the Seanchan, and while the fate is rather fitting, at least in Suroth’s in case, I was expecting to see a little more from this Darkfriend who I always expected to cause considerable trouble. I was surprised she wasn’t heavily involved in Semirhage’s trap, especially after the prologue, and I’m further surprised that without really accomplishing all that much, her ultimate fate is slavery to her own people. I’m wondering whether enslavement by the Seanchan will become the fate of all villains who aren’t simply killed! Anyway, just an observation.
The scene was executed quite well, though, and I can’t ignore the irony in Suroth’s fate, as it was certainly apparent that she prized her status in Seanchan hierarchy above everything else. And Tuon has returned to the Seanchan, soon to become Empress! Well, this will certainly change matters. The scene also explained what the head in the last chapter was about.
So let’s head over the Black Tower. Rand, stop ignoring this place. I’ve commented on this before, but Rand is acting almost insipidly oblivious about this disaster-in-the-making. For the love of god, listen to Logain! The problem is, there’s only so much we can clearly lay at Taim’s feet. While it’s obvious he’s planning sedition in the Tower and that he’s probably responsible for many of the mysterious attacks perpetrated on Rand, it’s becoming apparent Taim might be the craftiest villain in the entire series. I mean, damn, what the hell is he up to? If the theories about Taim and his accomplishments are true, he’s been more successful in manipulating and harming Rand than perhaps any of the Forsaken! Who is he working for? What is his plan? I need answers!
Needless to say, this scene was ominous as hell. I was waiting eagerly for the Red Ajah’s approach of the Black Tower since CoT, but while I didn’t expect everything to go perfectly, I certainly didn’t expect this sort of reception! What has Pevara gotten herself into? I like her, I don’t want her wrapped in this Asha’man madness! Jordan’s talent in atmosphere and the building of an eerie, riveting scene is so prominent in this conclusion. The ominous behavior of the Asha’man, Taim’s obvious ruthlessness to his own followers, and then that response. Let the Lord of Chaos rule. Oh shit.
So Knife of Dreams has concluded. It’s the last novel in the series written by Robert Jordan, and that made reading this riveting novel a bittersweet experience. There’s still more Jordan to read, as I believe he wrote everything in AMoL’s Epilogue, and I still intend to read New Spring. But this is the last official novel in The Wheel of Time written before Robert Jordan’s tragic death. If only he could’ve finished the saga as intended… But it’s a miracle it did get finished, and I can’t wait to delve into the Sanderson material. Still, I’m certain I’ll wonder much during the next three novels how the series would have concluded if Jordan was still alive. I’m just relieved Jordan managed to write this exciting novel before the end. If Crossroads of Twilight was his last entry… Because of that novel (and I suppose its predecessors), much of this series’ fanbase (at least, the more casual readers) abandoned WoT out of rather exaggerated claims that the pace had ground to a complete standstill, and that a conclusion was impossible. While I can’t really defend CoT, I was surprised how much I enjoyed the other novels in this series, and I feel a rather unfair bandwagon started demonizing WoT, claiming Robert Jordan was in it only for the money at a certain point, which is ludicrous. It’s rather sad that this novel is often overlooked by the casual fanbase, that the general opinion on WoT will depict it as a once-brilliant series written into disaster by an author who lost his vision, culminating in a catastrophe in CoT until Brandon Sanderson stepped in and rescued the saga. While I haven’t finished the series quite yet, I can already surmise that the general depiction of WoT is incorrect, and it saddens me that nobody can exactly recommend WoT anymore to new readers because of the perspective on the latter novels. Well, a bookstore owner at an airport recommended this series to me only two and a half years ago, so that’s not completely true.
With this rumination on the series as a whole complete, let’s examine the novel itself, shall we? Needless to say, I enjoyed KoD considerably, which was a relief, as CoT really deplenished quite a bit of my enthusiasm for the series. I was still filled with wonder, experiencing the ever-surprising and exhilarating plot, up to even WH, despite the pacing problems evident in that book, and CoT sort of diminished that. While I can’t say KoD instilled me with the same exhilaration that, for example, TFoH did, I would consider it, from a pacing perspective, the best novel since perhaps ACoS. The first half had its issues, Elayne’s chapters started typically tedious, Mat’s dragged a little, but with the stunning battle of Algarin’s manor, the novel quickly turned riveting. Lan’s ride for Tarmon Gai’don will remain perhaps one of the more memorable and just plain awesome scenes in the whole series. And then the sheer speed in which the second half of the novel proceeded was astonishing. Some of the battles were more exciting than others, some of the ways in which Jordan concluded these long-stagnant plotlines more satisfactory than others, but it was just such a relief to see, after three long novels, these arcs finally conclude. It’s as if we’re entering a whole new stage of the series, with these plotlines no longer dragged out. Perrin no longer needs to brood on Faile and the Shaido! Mat no longer needs to struggle with Tuon and the pursuing Seanchan occupying Altara! We no longer need to suffer Elayne’s baths and Sea Folk interactions and convoluted politicking! It’s all over!
The conclusion to these three lengthy plotlines wasn’t the only notable part of this book. The prologue was riveting, with some considerable developments for the long-ignored Whitecloaks. Egwene’s chapters marked a welcome change to her rather stagnant plotline, and I can’t wait to see how everything concludes in the next book or two. Egwene isn’t exactly my favorite character, but I definitely enjoy her rather complicated arc, and the recent developments in her lengthy plotline were very satisfactory. Rand’s chapters, as always, were brilliant. Rand just might be the most impressive character in the series, his slow but sure descent into madness, crushed by the voices in his head and his incredible responsibility, never ceasing to amaze me, as written brilliantly by Jordan. Although the ‘negotiation’ with the Seanchan wasn’t as exciting as I would’ve hoped, it was still riveting nonetheless, and marks yet another dark turn of events in Rand’s storyline. And this final epilogue was an excellent way to finish the novel.
So, in conclusion, Knife of Dreams was very good. I enjoyed it considerably, especially in the second half, and as sorrowful as it is to leave Robert Jordan’s material behind permenantly, I’m excited to explore Sanderson’s material and see this immense series start wrapping up!