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A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

My Knife of Dreams Re-read. (Random Spoilers, probably, but I haven't started writing yet...)


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This was my third read of this book.  I read it at publication in 2005, I read it again in 2009, and I just finished it a third time this morning.  I have a few thoughts.  First.  This book made me cry at least twice.  First, for sure, was Nynaeve and her scene with the gem dealer.  It was such a clever choice to write the scene from the gem dealer's perspective, because Jordan is able to sync up the reader's emotions with the gem dealers gradual growing emotional response to Nynaeve.  It is so well done, that by the end of the scene the reader is right there with the gem dealer, fully ready to charge off into the Blight.  It is such a momentously rousing scene, and tears just fall unnoticed.    Second batch of tears came with the Amayar and their mass suicide.  God Damn it, Seriously, RJ? Again, Jordan is able to sync up the reader's response with Harine's response to hearing the tragic news. Going into this read, I expected and remembered the emotional response to Nynaeve's scene, but the Amayar revelation caught me off guard, and my sudden grief and tears surprised.  I didn't see it coming.  Maybe I'm older, I don't know, but I felt the weight of their loss, even though none of the Amayar people ever had any real page time.  I guess that is credit to Robert Jordan's ability as writer.    Big Story-wise, I loved this book.  It is definitely top tier of the series.  Mat's guerilla war, Perrin's assault on Malden, Elayne's victory, Rand's encounter with Semirhage, Loial's marriage, all well done.  Also very clever of Jordan to put Egwene as a POV in the Prologue, and then not have her pop up again until page 500.  We also get a little more at the Black Tower.  And a Tuon POV.  Again, well done on Jordan's part to know exactly when a Tuon POV is needed to understand how she sees Mat.  I enjoyed the glimpses of Aludra and Egeanin, that were made possible by the character development efforts in previous books.  Crossroads of Twilight and Knife of Dreams are so seamless, and flow so naturally, and when paired together raise my overall feelings about Crossroads of Twilight.  Books 7, 8,and 9, aren't "bad"  they just feel different.  They feel like Jordan lost a little bit of control as a Director, not as a writer.  But he was able to re-establish himself as both Director and Writer in Crossroads of Twilight, and step everything up in Knife of Dreams.  Sadly, Robert Jordan died after completing Knife of Dreams.  At the time, I remember reading that he passed, and was deeply saddened.  This story, these characters WERE a part of what made me me.  This story, and these characters, I know for a fact, influenced how I went through life, how I approached people, how I saw the world.  From Lan's stoicism, to Mat's smugness, to Perrin's methodical, simple style, to Rand's fatalism, to Nynaeve's go-it-alone, get-it-done, unwavering nature, to Egwene's annoying, know-it-all selfish unselfishness; all of them, and more, helped me get through life.  I knew there was already an ending to their story, that it had already happened, so to speak, but I was crestfallen to realize that I would never know it.   Then Brandon Sanderson entered the picture.  Now we start Book 12.  This will be only the second time I have read the final three books of The Wheel of Time. I have read them each once, at publication, and so now, let's get on with The Gathering Storm, it is not THE beginning, but it is A beginning, of a sort.      

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You liked this book way more than I did.  It did have some great events, as you mentioned, but the build-up was too long on delivering.

 

The scene with the gem dealer in Saldea was very emotional for me as well.  Between Nynaeve's passion and hope that Lan was not riding to his doom, I choked up as well.  One of my favorite scenes in the series.

 

But the Amayar did nothing for me.  I recognized their mass suicide as a tragedy, but there was no investment there.  Could have been powerful, but was not set up well - at least for me.

 

As for Perrin's assault on Malden - I was just glad the arc was done.  Too much time on both Perrin and Faile feeling guilty for things they hadn't done.  Aram getting killed should have affected me more, but didn't deliver - I cared more about the Brotherless (Faile's protector) that got killed.  Just not well done in my opinion - the entire arc, not just the wrap up.

 

All that said, I will still dutifully read it again when I pick up the series - probably after the show is done.  Some good stuff, but not a book I loved.

 

 

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The problem with Aram is that there's nothing to really care about, regarding him as a person, after he takes up the sword.  He has no POVs, he confides in no one, and he has no real character growth or development from that point on.  Perrin doesn't trust him, he's mostly wary of his mental (in)stability and despairing of the responsibility of having to lead this man.  Faile is sympathetic, but makes no attempt to connect with him.  Gaul mostly side-eyes him.  We don't learn that he's been deceived by Masema until he betrays Perrin, so there's no build-up or suspense there.  He was introduced to us as being kind of a dick for trying to seduce Egwene while thinking Perrin was with her, and he never really did anything to redeem himself afterwards.  He wasn't secretly a good guy who sends money to orphans or helps old ladies cross the street.  So losing him was no big loss, not emotionally for the readers or for the characters related to them like Perrin, nor strategically for Team Light.

 

I feel for the Amayar a bit more, and more now than I did on my earlier read-throughs, mostly because of the description of how they murdered their children before committing suicide.  Becoming a father will do that to a person.  I'm also somewhat saddened because they represent a branch of the ancient Aiel that are now extinct, by their own hands, and for ultimately stupid reasons.  That stupidity mutes the sadness, though.

 

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36 minutes ago, Thrasymachus said:

The problem with Aram is that there's nothing to really care about, regarding him as a person, after he takes up the sword.  He has no POVs, he confides in no one, and he has no real character growth or development from that point on.  Perrin doesn't trust him, he's mostly wary of his mental (in)stability and despairing of the responsibility of having to lead this man.  Faile is sympathetic, but makes no attempt to connect with him.  Gaul mostly side-eyes him.  We don't learn that he's been deceived by Masema until he betrays Perrin, so there's no build-up or suspense there.  He was introduced to us as being kind of a dick for trying to seduce Egwene while thinking Perrin was with her, and he never really did anything to redeem himself afterwards.  He wasn't secretly a good guy who sends money to orphans or helps old ladies cross the street.  So losing him was no big loss, not emotionally for the readers or for the characters related to them like Perrin, nor strategically for Team Light.

 

This is 100% accurate. I never cared for Aram and was frankly a little relieved by his death.

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Good observation about Aram. Glad I wasn’t the only one that shrugged at his death - was feeling guilty about not caring more, but guess it was by design. 

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3 hours ago, DojoToad said:

Good observation about Aram. Glad I wasn’t the only one that shrugged at his death - was feeling guilty about not caring more, but guess it was by design. 

Fairly forgettable character overall, about the only time you even remembered he existed was when he was mentioned in someone else’s POV. I think it would have been better killing him off in some heroic act defending either Perrin or Faille. I certainly didn’t like him being turned into a traitor.

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The Aram arc needed three things to make it hit harder, emotionally.  First, Aram needed a PoV, not a whole chapter or anything like that, just enough to let us inside his head, to see how he thinks and feels, maybe redeem his initial dickishness somewhat. 

 

Second, he needed a friend.  Someone from among the secondary cast in Perrin's orbit, who we as readers were already inclined to like and trust, in whom Aram could have confided, who could have understood him, and who could have communicated with Perrin about Aram's mental state and needs.  Gaul wouldn't be bad, but I think Tam would fit better here.

 

And finally, through that friend from above, it needed to be made more explicit to Perrin, and by extension us readers, what exactly Aram needed from his new liege-lord, why he needed it, and what the risks were if he didn't get it.  This would have improved Perrin's arc, too, whose story all the way up through ToM is about having to lead while not wanting to, learning to embrace leadership while embracing his inner wolf.  Aram is Perrin's greatest tragedy, his greatest failure, in the whole series, and it's a real shame that it doesn't hit harder, emotionally. 

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4 hours ago, Thrasymachus said:

Aram is Perrin's greatest tragedy, his greatest failure, in the whole series, and it's a real shame that it doesn't hit harder, emotionally. 

 

Yeah. That's spot on. 

Perrin frustrates me because he is so close to having an amazing arc. But the Aram story line misses. The Noam storyline doesn't really go anywhere. His relationship with Faile gets more attention than it needs. And his role in the Last Battle is hampered by confusing timelines and the lack of a clear purpose. There needed to be something more blatant for readers to connect with. A prophecy that had to be fulfilled, or a goal that was more focused.

 

I guess I always start out with Perrin as one of my favorites and it bothers me that I keep having to try so hard to love his arc.

Edited by Elder_Haman
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With Aram, and a few others, it seemed RJ may have wanted to do something with the character early on, but then just left them out there to wither on the vine.   Aram was a burden to Perrin, and Perrin could have had him keep a distance.  But, Perrin chose to keep him close, and I think that went to Aram's head.  I never figured that out.  Aram wasn't an advisor, he didn't possess a unique skill set, or proprietary knowledge of some sort.  He wasn't even a friend.  Why he didn't just put him in the Two Rivers formation under someone else, is a head scratcher.  

 

One aspect of Faile's rescue that didn't "click" during my first two reads was Faile and her group stabbing the other two people who were trying to rescue them to death because Perrin showed up.  I mean, that's effed up.  And they did it with no hesitation.  I mean, I get it, but damn.

 

         

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I think he did with Aram exactly what he set out to do, but unfortunately, Jordan didn't get to do the follow-up.  Aram felt like a dropped plotline because it was dropped, by Brandon.  Perrin was Brandon's favorite character of the boys, and it shows not just in how he managed to get the sense of Perrin's internal monologue and external behavior mostly right, (as opposed to his first take on Mat), but also in that under Brandon, Perrin was no longer a character that really needed to grow or who struggled with the growth he did get.  He simply became a badass who had to go through certain plot-hoops at the right time and place in order to "level up."

 

If you think about it, Perrin under Jordan had nearly become almost everybody's least favorite, certainly their least favorite of the three boys.  He broods and sulks.  He worries over the same problems like a dog worrying a dried out old bone.  He's obsessive and simultaneously worried about his obsessiveness.  The only thing worse than the Perrin chapters were the Elayne ones, and at least Elayne's had some interesting politicking going on.  It was Brandon who made him cool again, what with the forging of Mah'alleinir and rescue of the Whitecloaks.  But he also kinda downplayed Perrin's working past his traumas and overcoming his flaws.  Gods and legends don't really have to do that.

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