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Crossroads of Twilight    by Robert Jordan order for
Crossroads of Twilight
by Robert Jordan
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Tor, 2003 (2003)
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* * *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This is the tenth massive volume in the Wheel of Time series, which Robert Jordan has built up to epic proportions. Each installment apparently merely whets the appetite of his fans for more and more and more. And it looks like that will be just what they will get, as this book merely brings all the varied threads of the story more or less up-to date, and sets the stage for, hopefully, more, and more exciting, developments.

In the ninth volume, Rand al'Thor, with the help of Nynaeve using saidar, the female half of the True Source, cleansed the taint of the Dark One from saidin (the male half, which in the past has eventually driven all its users mad). Rather strangely, this momentous change is barely mentioned in this tenth volume, and in fact almost none of the characters know it has happened. Nynaeve does not reappear at all.

Elayne's problems in Andor are covered in good detail, as her pregnancy with twins develops. She remains besieged (with treachery on every side), unable to break the siege but unwilling to provoke conflict with fellow Andorans. Egwene has brought her forces to the White Tower, but she also is reluctant to initiate full-scale war. She is prepared to take great risks to reunite, rather than leave the Black Tower (and the male Asha'man) unchecked and uncontrolled.

Perrin Aybara is in hot pursuit of the Shaido who have taken his wife Faile captive. Although he reaches their camp, he is hindered by the untrustworthy Prophet Masema, and cannot attack with his meagre forces. Perrin also has only one overpowering objective; to rescue Faile at any cost whatever. Mat Cauthon has left Ebou Dar, after kidnapping the Daughter of the Nine Moons, Tuon, and taken refuge in the circus of an old acquaintance, Luca. He is beginning to have doubts about who was really kidnapped, Tuon or himself, but while struggling to keep some control of the situation, he must also continue to evade the searching Seanchan.

This book seems to be primarily designed as preparation for the eleventh volume in the series. Accentuating the problem that there are already far too many characters and story threads to keep track of, several more are arbitrarily introduced here. However, I don't believe Jordan's enthusiastic readers will care too much about such academic criticisms; the characters are still engrossing and the writing highly professional.

In telling the story of Mat and Tuon, indeed, Robert Jordan goes beyond that, and displays the freshness of imagination that made the first few volumes so fascinating. What more can I say except that I thoroughly enjoyed it and hope the next episode will not be too long delayed.

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