Sunday, December 5, 2010

Knife of Dreams

Knife of Dreams is much better than Winter's Heart or Crossroads of Twilight. Stuff happens in spite of Jordan’s usual foot-dragging, boring mental landscapes, and scene-killing clothing descriptions.
My favorite scene: Egwene mastering the situation as a prisoner of the Tower, converting the novices to her side, coping with the pain of punishment, drawing on her considerable inner resources, defying expectations, using her Aiel education. I thought that part of the book was especially well-paced and dramatized.
I’ve become more tolerant of Nynaeve, and more appreciative of her role as a source of amusement. Elayne, however, is an idiot, who succeeds in spite of herself. The Perrin/Faile separation was a trial in ways the author didn’t fully intend, and in the end the reader is relieved that THAT’s over. I was disappointed at the way RJ disposed of Rolan, but what would one expect from the Forsaken (e.g., Jordan.)
The buildup to Perrin's attack on the Shaido was a dreary, dull, drawn-out affair (as are most scenes.) I'm sorry, but that's not how one builds drama and tension, that's "frittering the time away and annoying the readers" or something like that.
I'm very much looking forward to seeing what Sanderson does in The Gathering Storm.

I think that Jordan's Wheel of Time series has dire flaws in literary style, authorial judgment, and plot building. It succeeded commercially because it had a strong appeal to young readers who hung on every word, and whose excitement built as the books appeared over time.
For me, a mature reader (ahem) I felt that Jordan’s attempts to manipulate the reader into feeling excitement and concern for the characters was shallow and unconvincing. I’m sick of scenes where characters act like idiots in order to generate plot. I’m also sick of crappy “epic-y” writing that’s a pallid imitation of Tolkien (who actually knew what he was doing, he was a freakin’ philologist, go look that up.) I’m tired of the way Jordan hates and tortures his characters. Sanderson, I believe, is a far more generous and loving sort of writer. I’m not kidding when I say that Jordan is Graendal. Isn’t there a deconstructivist theory of literature that says that a book is about itself and its author? Maybe I made that up.
What I have enjoyed in WoT-world: Cultures amalgamated from our own cultures. Magic systems derived from our own cultural ideas. I also like thinking about what could have been done so much better.
I really do yearn for the magic of books. I’ve experienced it. I just can’t find it in Wheel of Time. It’s been an ordeal… exactly as the author intended it to be experienced.

1 comment:

  1. I thought it was a much better book than the previous two as well. I'm looking forward to reading the three Brandon Sanderson volumes next year when the final one comes out.