Why I Love/Hate Robert Jordan (an Audiobook Review of Knife of Dreams)

June 10, 2014 Reviews 2 ★★★★

Instead of doing a normal review for Knife of Dreams, I’m going to talk about the series as a whole (with just a few comments about this particular book thrown in).  Please allow me to explain my love/hate relationship with Robert Jordan.

Title: Knife of Dreams
Series: Wheel of Time #11

Author: Robert Jordan
Published: January, 2013
Pages: 860 (32 hours, 24 minutes audio)
Goodreads Rating: 4.06 Stars
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
My Content Rating: Mature YA or Adult (Some sex, though not described; Fantasy violence)
Summary from Goodreads: The Wheel of Time turns, and Robert Jordan gives us the eleventh volume of his extraordinary masterwork of fantasy. 
 

The dead are walking, men die impossible deaths, and it seems as though reality itself has become unstable: All are signs of the imminence of Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, when Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, must confront the Dark One as humanity’s only hope. But Rand dares not fight until he possesses all the surviving seals on the Dark One’s prison and has dealt with the Seanchan, who threaten to overrun all nations this side of the Aryth Ocean and increasingly seem too entrenched to be fought off. But his attempt to make a truce with the Seanchan is shadowed by treachery that may cost him everything. Whatever the price, though, he must have that truce. And he faces other dangers. There are those among the Forsaken who will go to any length to see him dead–and the Black Ajah is at his side…. Unbeknownst to Rand, Perrin has made his own truce with the Seanchan. It is a deal made with the Dark One, in his eyes, but he will do whatever is needed to rescue his wife, Faile, and destroy the Shaido who captured her. Among the Shaido, Faile works to free herself while hiding a secret that might give her her freedom or cause her destruction. And at a town called Malden, the Two Rivers longbow will be matched against Shaido spears. Fleeing Ebou Dar through Seanchan-controlled Altara with the kidnapped Daughter of the Nine Moons, Mat attempts to court the woman to whom he is half-married, knowing that she will complete that ceremony eventually. But Tuon coolly leads him on a merry chase as he learns that even a gift can have deep significance among the Seanchan Blood and what he thinks he knows of women is not enough to save him. For reasons of her own, which she will not reveal until a time of her choosing, she has pledged not to escape, but Mat still sweats whenever there are Seanchan soldiers near. Then he learns that Tuon herself is in deadly danger from those very soldiers. To get her to safety, he must do what he hates worse than work…. In Caemlyn, Elayne fights to gain the Lion Throne while trying to avert what seems a certain civil war should she win the crown…. In the White Tower, Egwene struggles to undermine the sisters loyal to Elaida from within…. The winds of time have become a storm, and things that everyone believes are fixed in place forever are changing before their eyes. Even the White Tower itself is no longer a place of safety. Now Rand, Perrin and Mat, Egwene and Elayne, Nynaeve and Lan, and even Loial, must ride those storm winds, or the Dark One will triumph.

 

I have been VERY slowly making my way through The Wheel of Time series.  I actually started this series way back when the first book was originally published (when I was a teenager!), but I only made it to book 5 or 6 or so.  It’s not that I didn’t like it, I just didn’t read nearly as much in college and this series was too daunting.  And the longer I waited, the more daunting it seemed.  Finally, when I heard that Brandon Sanderson was finishing the series, I decided that I really wanted to read it.  But a re-read was obviously necessary, since it had been years since I’d read the first books.  The solution?  Audible.  I’m not one for re-reading usually, but I thought that listening to the books would afford me a different experience.  I was right!  It helped that I could speed the narration up occasionally and tune out sometimes when Jordan decided to jabber on more than I liked … oops, did I say that out loud.  Yep, I did.

Well, here I am at Book #11, Knife of Dreams.  Honestly, the last few books in the series, I didn’t even bother to review in-depth because they just dragged on too much and I couldn’t form coherent thoughts about them.  They were honestly three star books at best for me, even though I wanted to love them.  SO, I was very pleasantly surprised when the last book actually written by Jordan picked up the pace quite a bit – I thoroughly enjoyed it!!  Jordan finally tied up some threads that had been dangling for quite some time and started us on a path that felt like it could actually lead us to the end.  Yay!!  This was a great book for Jordan to end on (even though I know this wasn’t truly the end for him, since he mapped out the final books in the series before he died).

Why I hate Robert Jordan (No, not really, but you know what I mean):
  • Wordy.  Let’s face it, Jordan is a bit verbose – no, very verbose.  He likes to tell us in detail what every character the current narrator comes across is wearing, what expressions cross his or her face, how dusty the road is that they’re walking on, the exact time of day that such and such occurred … you get the idea.  All of this said with as many words as possible.  Or at least that’s how it feels.  He also stuffs so many plotlines into one book that it’s practically impossible to cover them all and actually make any progress on any of them (I mean, honestly, just look how long the synopsis is!!). This book is no exception when it comes to wordiness, but Jordan did actually manage to pick up the plot in this book, so I was able to forgive him his wandering.
  • Too many characters.  Again, this is really a flaw of the series as a whole, and it was actually much better in this book, but the issue didn’t go away completely.  There are so darn many characters in these books that I feel like I need a character reference chart by my side at all times to actually know who Jordan is referring to a lot of the time.  I mean, seriously, check out this link. This is just a list of what someone deemed the “major” characters in the book – there have to be at least 300 characters listed! I honestly just don’t have the mental energy or the inclination to keep track of all these people and I don’t have a list sitting next to me when I’m listening to my audiobooks (nor do I want to).  Worse yet, Jordan will occasionally tell the story from one of these random character’s POVs and I’m forced to sit and try and figure out who’s head I’m in and what they have to do with the story as a whole.  I. Just. Can’t. Do. It.  So, I’ve gotten to the point where I no longer try.  I just blithely listen – and if I don’t know who I’m listening to, I make the best of it and eventually figure it out (at least well enough).
Why I love Robert Jordan:
  • His characters (the actual main ones).  There is absolutely no way that I could actually completely give up on this series because I am way too invested in these main characters.  I adore Rand al’Thor almost as much as Min, Elayne and Aviendha do. I want to see what happens to this driven man, whether or not he will truly go mad and if he’ll make it past the Last Battle.  I NEEDED to see Perrin finally rescue Faile (he did!! – I’m not considering this a spoiler, since we’ve basically been waiting for three books for it to happen). I am completely invested in the roguish and always amusing Mat Cauthon and I desperately wanted to know how he would end up marrying Tuon (again, not a spoiler since it was prophesied ages ago). I can’t wait to find out how Egwene will finally repair the White Tower and I couldn’t help but cheer when Nynaeve and Lan finally got married!  These characters have my heart and soul and I won’t abandon them.  (I just might tune them out occasionally when they go on too long about what they’re eating for breakfast.)
  • The battle against The Dark One.  It’s epic. I mean, truly epic – and I HAVE to find out what will happen at Tarmon Gai’don.  Are there a few too many Dark Friends for me to keep track of?  Well, yes.  But they are all deliciously evil and quite twisted, each in their very own ways.  In each book, the stakes get higher and higher as the Last Battle gets closer – and I can’t wait!!
  • His story.  Jordan was an amazing storyteller!  When he was alive he managed to weave a thousand threads together in ways that would sometimes frustrate me, but would also leave me in awe. The Wheel of Time series has to be one of the most huge undertakings in fantasy. And for all it’s flaws, it’s still amazing.  I can’t wait to find out how Jordan mapped out the final chapters of his story.  I’m sure that Brandon Sanderson has done it justice!
I highly recommend listening to The Wheel of Time series on audiobook if you don’t think you can manage to get through the whole series in print.  The narration is enjoyable and it truly brings Jordan’s world to life.  Knife of Dreams far surpasses the last few Wheel of Time books and really starts the plot rolling again!  I give this installment in the series 4/5 stars.

 

2 Responses to “Why I Love/Hate Robert Jordan (an Audiobook Review of Knife of Dreams)”

  1. Tracy (@Cornerfolds)

    Okay, I know this is WAY late, but I just came to your blog and searched “Wheel of Time” because you had commented on an older review I posted of WoT book 5. I just finished #6 and OMG. Okay, so my review doesn’t go up until sometime next month, but I was literally trying not to jump up and down during this book! Egwene the Amyrlin? What?! And Rand became such a total badass! I feel like he finally owned his responsibility and actually -became- the Dragon Reborn. Sorry for totally fangirling all over your page. -_- Anyway, I totally agree with you about his wordiness and the amount of characters. Sometimes I have absolutely no idea who is even being talked about! Have you made it to the end of the series yet?

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

    Tracy (@Cornerfolds) recently posted: Waiting on Wednesday #37: End of Days by Susan Ee
    • Nicole

      Ha! It’s all good – these old posts deserve some love too – especially since my comments didn’t transfer over when I moved from WordPress – it always makes me sad to see them all bare. LOL!

      Okay, confession time – I have been listening to the final book in this series for … forever. It’s like 36 hours long, and I just haven’t been listening a lot lately. I actually knew that the final book was going to be a bit harder for me because of the extended battle scenes (which aren’t my favorite thing in the universe) – but I PROMISE that I am going to finish this series – and that I’m going to cheer when I finally find out how it all ends. You have reminded me that I need to get back in the saddle and start listening!! 🙂

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