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Knife of Dreams    by Robert Jordan order for
Knife of Dreams
by Robert Jordan
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Tor, 2014 (2005)
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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

It has been a long wait for Jordan fans for this eleventh in his seemingly endless Wheel of Time series. The tenth episode, Crossroads of Twilight, came out in 2003 and introduced a momentous change (Rand al'Thor cleansed the taint of the Dark One from the male half of the True Source) in a low key fashion. And Jordan tantalized readers with a delightful prequel, New Spring, in 2004.

Now, Elayne is pregnant with twins, suffering frequent mood swings, and under siege in Caemlyn from Arymilla, who seeks the throne of Andor. During this episode, Elayne also tracks down and confronts members of the Black Ajah. Mat Cauthon and Tuon (the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons) travel with a circus to evade the searching Seanchan. It's entertaining to watch Mat struggle to cross a wide culture gap to understand this foreign Imperial Princess who calls him Toy. It seems that Tuon is at risk, as the Seanchan have been ordered to kill her - High Lady Suroth has spread the word that she is an imposter. At this point, Mat (whom many find easy to underestimate, to their cost, and in whose head dice continually spin) has turned into the most interesting series character. He gets married in this episode as does Ogier Loial, neither having much choice in the matter.

Egwene has been captured and drugged by the White Tower, and must fight a mental battle as Elaida try to break her spirit by making her a novice again and subjecting her to correction many times daily. Perrin Aybara still desperately pursues the Shaido who have taken Faile captive, and is willing to make any alliance, even with the Seanchan, to save her - 'I'm a man who wants his wife back ... and I'll deal with the Dark One to get her.' Rand continues to struggle with Lews Therin, the madman who shares his head and occasionally takes over his body and powers, and fights tough battles against Trollocs. He fears how the Prophecy of what is to come - 'To live, you must die' - will hurt those he loves. The Forsaken plot to kill Perrin and Mat, and there are many signs that the Dark One 'is touching the world' and that Tarmon Gai'don, the Last Battle between Dragon Reborn and evil, approaches fast.

So 'The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend.' As well as long-running, this series is complex, with a huge number of characters, and varied major and minor story strands to track. However it's well worth the effort, a must read for fantasy lovers. With countless other fans, I'm increasingly anxious to find out what happens at and after Tarmon Gai'don.

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