Racing Against The Wheel of Time

Spoiler Check: I have completed the Wheel of Time series up to Towers of Midnight inclusive

Books My re-read of the Wheel of Time series has now reached the end of Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight, and it’s straight onto Book 11, Knife of Dreams. Ideally, I’d have taken a break from the series but I am determined to complete my re-read before Book 14, A Memory of Light, is released next year. Of course, it all depends on which date is the actual target date. The hardcover comes out on 8 January in the US, UK and probably the rest of the English-speaking world. To hit that date I have to complete my re-read of books 11, 12 and 13 in a little over 2 months. It is do-able assuming I consume all three titles as audiobooks without a break. I already have them in my Audible library.

The eBook version of AMoL is being held back until 9 April, which is guaranteed to annoy a lot of people. There seem to be a number of theories for the delay, ranging from ensuring the book goes straight to #1 in the NYT hardcover bestseller list (by reducing the dilution effect of eBook sales), to cynical money-grabbing by the publisher and an aversion to eBooks on the part of Robert Jordan’s widow, Harriet. I really have no idea which, if any, of those is right.

In any event, it’s really the Audible version I’m after. As far as I can tell that should be released at the same time as the hardcover but I’ve not seen it formally confirmed anywhere, and I’m not yet ruling out the risk that different dates will apply in the US and UK due to fragmentation of rights-holders. The world of publishing has yet to make it into the 20th century, let alone the 21st.

I was unimpressed to find the Prologue to AMoL released early (including as an audiobook) but not for free.  This is shameless exploitation of the long-suffering faithful, trading on fans’ hunger for the final book in the series to tempt them to pay once for the Prologue then again a few months later for the whole book (including the Prologue). Tor have released Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 11 for free but the former apparently contains spoilers to the Prologue! I’m not going near any of those pre-publication snippets, free or not. I want to read a whole book when it’s all there to be read, in the right order and without having to skip bits.

In the meantime, a few words about the book I have just finished, Crossroads of Twilight. Easily the weakest book in the series because literally nothing of note happens, arguably excepting Egwene falling into the hands of Elaida at the very end of the book. The book made for a far better re-read than first time read because I had no higher expectations to dash.  I already knew that it merely moved a few subplots along a little bit, so was able to enjoy such merits as it had. Mainly, I was able to connect up the dots between characters and events better, even for plot-arcs which had started many books ago and had many more to run, aided by the detailed cross-referencing in Encyclopaedia-WoT and the helicopter perspective of the Wertzone.

Just to prove I’m not making it up about the (lack of) plot, what does actually happen?

Rand

Barely gets a mention. Is in recuperation mode after the Cleansing of the Taint, which was related in the previous book but “happens again” in this book due to some overlapping of timelines. He mouths off at Logain, decides he wants to talk to the Seanchan about a truce. That’s it, really. Nynaeve, Min, Cadsuane and Verin are also barely in it.

Mat

Travels painfully slowly from Ebou Dar to Jurador with Luca’s confounded travelling circus. Sets about courting Tuon, again in tiny incremental steps, the highlight being that he takes her out shopping for dress material. Ah, how sweet! Some Deathwatch Guards are (surprise surprise) on his tail, but some distance behind. One of the Sul’dam tries to betray him but fails and is killed.

Perrin

At the start of the book he knows Faile is in the hands of the Shaido but not her exact location.  By the end he knows she is in Malden but not how he is going to rescue her although he has inklings about aqueducts and is having thoughts of joining forces with the Seanchan (he might as well since everyone else is). What else? Traces are found of Darkhounds which went off somewhere else and are never seen. Some politics, spying and hints of secret deals involving Masema. Some agonising about axes and an essentially irrelevant side story about a haunted town.

Elayne

She starts and ends the book under siege from Arymilla Marne and the Andorran houses supporting her, mostly under coercion. Dyelin signs up some under-age High Seats to Elayne’s cause. Anything much else? Not really. Birgitte and Aviendha aren’t doing much either.

Egwene

Starts off besieging Tar Valon and the rebels are still there doing their besieging at the end. A couple of murders by Halima. A report on an exploratory trip to Shadar Logoth which reveals nothing of interest but somehow sparks some talk of bonding Asha’man. Egwene has a plan to block the entrances to the Tar Valon harbours by turning the chains to cuendillar with the Power, but is betrayed by someone and gets captured by Elaida’s contingent during the implementation phase.

Other than that … well, Alviarin gets at least a partial come-uppance. The rest is a lot of atmospheric stuff about decay, infestations and ghosts.


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