I read a mini-review of this book several weeks ago where the reviewer said how much he loved Knife of Dreams and how it resolved so many little plot points and helped really point the way for the final book 12. Well...maybe. Maybe not.
Here's the thing: I liked this book a whooooole lot more than Crossroads of Twilight which just kind of takes up space since 85% of that book takes place during the final event of Winter's Heart. This book picks up several different storylines. Egwene, the young rebel leader of the Aes Sedai who have splintered from the White Tower, is captured by the existing White Tower. Chapters are spent on how she is slowly changing the minds of those within the walls of the White Tower and how she is waging silent war to bring down the Tower from within. Robert Jordan writes about how she is having this huge effect and it is clear she is being viewed differently. And then I see it is only day 4 of her captivity and by the end I think it is Day 9. Nine days? Say what? The novices are coming to her for advice in only 5 days? Are you kidding me? They'd still being viewing her as the upstart runaway who thinks she rules the White Tower, not as a potential figure for advice and leadership. The Egwene chapters work well to set up more cracks in the White Tower, but it just feels so accelerated.
I swear that I'm going to be complaining and then end with "and I can't wait for the next book", but this is what is coming to mind.
The chapters with Mat were also uneventful until the very end. He is still going around with the Daughter of the Nine Moons, the heir to the throne of the Seanchan invaders and he knows that he is going to marry her (as said by the Aelfinn), and RJ keeps tipping us towards this, but slooooowly. The big reveal of what a bellfounder would be used for in fireworks was kind of a let down. It'll be a big deal in the next book as a weapon, but it's like it was teased as this big thing and then it was just revealed matter of factly.
Rand, the main character of the series, doesn't even show up until chapter 18. Not much happens with him. At least nothing memorable.
Perrin spends too much time mooning over Faile, his captured wife. But his alliance with the Seanchan is solidified as they help him rescue Faile from the Shaido Aiel. That's probably the big thing, that one of the main three characters has just aligned with the Seanchan. Mat, even though he got married to Tuon at the end of the book, has no intention on holding back the war against the Seanchan. He knows the stakes. Perrin doesn't care. Too bad about Aram. Well, I guess this was a big thing...it's been a storyline which has crossed several books and this is resolved, too.
Elayne...finally claims the Lion Throne in Andor. About time! And she's still pregnant with Rand's twins.
Nynaeve sens Lan off to Tarwin's Gap in the Blight to continue the War with the Shadow. Lan doesn't want to have anyone fight with him as it is his personal war alone (he thinks), but she gets him to agree that anyone who asks can come. Then she drops him off as far from Tarwin's Gap as possible and still be in the Borderlands and then spends time Travelling and raising the Golden Crane of Malkier saying that Lan rides for the Gap. This was a pretty moving segment. For some reason I had thought I read an accidental spoiler that Lan dies in this book and I'm glad he didn't.
The big things in my mind are Noal and Moiraine. I wrote earlier about Noal being Jaim Farstrider. I don't know how big this will turn out to be, but it's big to me (mostly because I figured it out several books ago).
Chapter 10. So, midway through the series Moiraine, the Aes Sedai who pulled Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve out of Emond's Field as the Trollocs came for Rand, she disappeared fighting one of the Forsaken, Lanfear. Because of what she fell into (I'll just shorten the description and call it a magical gate) there is no body and even though it should be death and the archway melted, most fans believed she was coming back (why not, most every other killed character has). But there really hasn't been any hints except that she left Thom, the gleeman/bard a letter before she "died" saying that she knew she might not come back but that was all that was revealed of the letter. Later, when Lanfear came back as Cyndane (though with less power) it meant that Lanfear had died and was resurrected by the Dark One into a new body. If Lanfear died, surely Moiraine did, too.
But the theory went was that she was in the land of the Aelfinn (that was the gateway). Lanfear died because she was of the Shadow and things that even mention the Shadow to the Aelfinn are dangerous. But Moiraine fought the shadow. Somewhen the Tower of Ghenji was mentioned and that somehow she would be rescued from there. But as each book passed it became less and less likely.
Then chapter 10. Mat askes Thom what is in the letter and that is the signal Moiraine gave Thom to reveal it to Mat. See, Moiraine said that everyone would think she is dead, but she isn't. She isn't!! But she must be rescued and three must come for her: Thom, Mat, and one other, and in many of the futures she could see she didn't make it out and neither did the rescuers but it had to be attempted. Mat would know where the Tower is. But he doesn't, until it was described.
And we find out that we actually saw the Tower in book 1 or 2 when the group left Shadar Logoth and Mat was hazy with fever and he and Rand escaped up a river and met Baile Domon and they saw this tower that had no doors and nobody knew much about.
Yeah. That's it.
But the quest to find Moiraine has been left for book 12 and Jordan is convinced he is finishing in 12 books and there is so much left to do and I don't know how Moiraine being rescued fits into the book and having the Final Battle.
Oh, and Semirhage has been captured by Rand. Another of the Forsaken. She makes an interesting point that Rand is quite insane already and he is hearing voices (that of the original Dragon Lews Therin Telamon). The fact that it is a real voice in his head makes it worse and that there isn't much that can be done as he will start to lose his grip...but he is the only hope of the world against the Dark One.
So, overall I am satisfied with the book. RJ gave us consecutive chapters with the same viewpoint so we could follow Egwene or Mat for 4 chapters or so before he switched viewpoints on us again. Good choice. I liked getting some of these details worked out and revealed but there are still so many big things that I think need to be done that I don't know how RJ will finish it in one more book. Glad I read it, Wheel of Time is still a series I love and this was one of the better books in the last 4 or 5, I'd say (except for the ending of book 9). But not without its flaws and it spend a lot of time to get to where it was going that it felt like there was quite a bit of fluff (like this blog entry).
But...the real question remains:
Who killed Asmodean?