First Wheel of Time Readthrough, Part 10

I’ll preface this by saying I actually finished this book a few days ago, for reasons I will try not to go into too much detail on before getting into it, so if it feels like I’ve got a little more distance than on the books I just finished…sort of do.

The first reason for the delay is that my birthday just passed, and came with all the distractions that having a birthday usually comes with.  All I wanted for my birthday was world peace, and cause that is a totally non-selfish thing to ask for it makes it okay when I link my book, available for purchase, right here.

The other reason was I ended up having to switch hosts for this blog, which was a huuge pain in the ass and only thanks to a miracle I actually got it working after so many false starts.  Speaking of which, I apologize if pages take longer to load than usual or if you experience any other kind of weird behaviors (clearing your cache should fix most of them), the new host is a ‘free’ one so I can only expect so much. My hosting bill was coming due, and I’ve been having some non-minor financial problems over the past couple of months, and paying for hosting with unlimited resources seemed a little less important than it did to me when I was first putting out my book and bright-eyedly optimistic about my chances.  Perhaps if the free host becomes a problem I will beg one of my friends with their own hosting plan to piggyback off them; not like I’m using an extreme amount of bandwidth.

Okay, so, ‘Crossroads of Twilight,’ the last book in the so called dredge before I was promised the series picks up in a big way, and supposedly the worst of the lot (though there were a few redditors quite peeved I was given that opinion instead of letting me experience the books on my own). In a way, I suppose it really slow, even slower than the ones preceding it, and that is no small accomplishment.  Though it did have its moments and I wouldn’t really want to say it was really bad, just … I suppose dull. And all this slowness really built up to nothing, no advancements in the plot, no real character development, and so on.  At least in the last book after the slow crawl through Nomagicksburg we were treated to the most exciting mage battle in the series thus far, and PoD, which rivals Crossroads in terms of lack of advancement had its battles.  I could probably summarize Crossroads in a few sentences: “Perrin still hasn’t rescued Faile.  Mat tries to win over Tuon.  The siege of Tar Valon is slow and endless.  Fucking weevils.”

That being said, it’s not like it was a chore to read, not like, say, how I felt reading Rand’s trek through the Aiel wastes (yes, faithful followers of my journey, that is still is my least favorite part of the series, even after all this).  It does give me that feeling of wanting things to hurry up and resolve; its almost like watching a filler-arc in a tv show that you know was just put there to pad episodes cause the writers resolved the plot in 20 episodes but the season order was for 24.  I am certain the reason the book is seen in such a negative light is because, for the fans who were reading the series as it came out and waited a couple of years for the continuation, this must have felt like a slap in face, realizing that you had to wait even longer to see the storyline actually continue.  For me, with the next book right at arm’s reach, it’s more of a shrug; the worst thing I can really say about the book is that it is unmemorable.
The major point of the first half of the book (after the 100-page prologue catching you up on the doings of a host of minor characters) is as a “Where-were-you when” for Rand’s giant …cleansing ritual?  I’m just going to call it the Cleanse (the capital is inherent, as Jordan is so fond of saying).  Everyone stops what their doing, however important, to freak out about this world-shattering amount of power.  And ultimately, everyone decides that there is shit-all they can do about it and might as well go on with what they were doing (and those who super-freak and want to run get quickly overruled by calmer minds).

There wasn’t really an overarching theme to the second half, at least, none that I caught.  It switches between Mat’s attempts to win over/figure out Tuon (good luck Mat, she confuses me too), and Egwene’s attempts to progress the siege while maintaining her position.  All that ends with her getting herself done captured, finally filling out her punch card (I first made that joke when it seemed like Egwene being captured every book was going to be a continuing thing, and since then she has more or less managed to avoid capture, but I have not forgotten).

Some thoughts:

I smiled when Alviarin returned to the tower to find the siege begun, herself stripped of the Keeper title, and Elaida with her spine returned. Not that I’m fan of Elaida, quite the opposite, but … there’s always something satisfying about watching a bad guy getting taken down a peg, and Alviarin is high ranked among the Baddies.

Weevils.  Fucking gross.  I grimaced each time someone described trying to eat food while picking the little bastards out of their soup/bread.  Come on, Dark One, you are better than that.  Don’t play innocent with me, I know you are associated with this somehow.  I get that your two attempts at fucking the world with season-locks didn’t pan out, but going straight to bugs?  That’s just icky.  I don’t care if it’s effective, you don’t want to be associated with that.

I wonder how Tuon would react if Mat just flat-out told her the prophecy he was told.  She believes in signs and omens, one of which she must have seen when she first met Mat (the only way to explain why she suddenly went creepy stalker mode).  I don’t know what her expectations are, she’s hard to figure out, and she hasn’t had a POV chapter since her introduction.

I facepalmed when Mat got the explanation that he accidentally performed half a Seanchan marriage right when he repeated “She’s my wife” three times.  Seriously, if it wasn’t for all the death and apocalypse stuff, this could easily pass as some kind of military-themed romantic comedy. Seriously, just imagine a montage of awkward dates full of cultural misunderstandings, maybe a little slapstick humor on Mat’s part, while “I Believe in a Thing Called Love” plays.  Instant Spring hit.

Sigh … I was really looking forward to the siege of Tar Valon, thinking of a cool battle that was going to take place between mages.  I guess I should have realized those oaths would prevent that, but I thought they would find clever Aes Sedai ways around those.  I guess I did get my fill of mage-battles last book.  Still, the siege needs some action, mage or soldier, I don’t care.  Maybe Egwene’s capture is the catalyst needed to get shit moving.

Gawyn is also near Tar Valon with his Younglings.  Waiting for that to come into play, maybe the resolution of his Romeo & Juliet -esque plut with Egwene.

And Galad has been missing for a while…

Strange and contradictory alliances are being made … In Arad Doman the soldiers and Dragonsworn have formed an agreement to fight the Seanchan; Rand intends to negotiate a peace with the Seanchan, but they want him to negotiate with Tuon, currently a ‘captive’ of Mat, the Borderlanders are in an agreement of sorts with Elayne moving towards Murandy, where the Band of the Red Hand is currently being used in a scheme to consolidate power, and I’m sure I’m missing some.  The book lacked action, but it has left a lot of gasoline just lying around waiting to be lit.

Then there’s the whole clusterfuck with the Aes Sedai bonding Asha’man and Logain’s Asha’man force-bonding Aes Sedai.  Poor Cadsuane, she knows exactly how hard its going to be to try and keep that from exploding.

Perrin’s visit to CreepTown was….creepy.  And yet another opened plot point to leave me pondering.

I can’t help but wonder if it was Mat’s luck that brought Convenient Old Man Noal to him, or if there is something more to it.  Like, I want to be suspicious of that guy, but I don’t know if I would be wrong to be.  The ta’varen do have a habit of drawing exactly who they need to them.

That’s all I got for this one.  Hopefully less delay before the next one, Light willing.

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