Jordan’s Crossroads of Twilight is an interesting read for several reason, and I want to start it off by saying I am a consummate fan of the WoT series. As I often tell friends and book fans, Wheel of Time was “my Harry Potter”, that is, it is the book series that first sucked me into the Fantasy Genre. Sure, I had read a smidgen here and there of other fantasy, but it was Wheel of Time that embraced me and never let go.
So, saying all of that, let’s start with the negatives, and it falls primarily with the Plot.
Warning, mild spoilers ahead
Leading up to book 10 of the Wheel of Time, the series had been recently defined in the past several books by epic World changing or Character changing events.
Book 6: Lord of Chaos had Dumais Well, Book 7: A Crown of Swords had the taking of Illian, Book 8 The Path of Daggershad the Bowl of the winds, and Book 9 Winter’s Heart had the Choedan Khal. There were all climaxes of events that had been anticipated to come. Crossroads of Twilight however, seems to be just the wrapping up of all those major events in a semi-throwaway book were nothing much happened. Which is fine, because in the three part act, in the second act we need to see the characters brought low so we can enjoy seeing the characters brought high. But, by the Creator’s hand, did we need to put every character’s second act into one book? If I had been forced to summarize CoT after not just having read it it would go like:
Perrin is depressed because of Faile
Matt is depressed because of Seanchan and Aes Sedai
Elayne is depressed because Andor
Egwene is depressed because of the Hall
Rand is depressed because he is Rand
oh and Aviendha is depressed because of silk
And the characters we usually really on for supporting cast excitement are oddly absent or sticks in the mud too, Im look at you Cadsuane and your internal musings, and you Birgitte, and your whining about the golden cord around your neck and the fact that a teenage girl wants to get down ever so often. Oh and we get to see Bashere like once. No Gawyn, No Galad. I mean, what in the light was everyone else doing when the main characters were moping around.
Also, several major plot points are about misunderstandings, but misunderstandings that could be resolved if everyone would stop being their emo self and just explain things. Yes, I am looking at you Perrin Aybarra + beard and the case of Berelain’s tent and the picnic basket. It’s basically the same motivation that drove Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Cmon Harry, be a man, tell Dumbledore your ominous yet oddly specific Voldemort dream, for the love of Merlin.
Okay, it’s Wheel of Time, the settings are expansive, it’s a living breathing world. Oh except everything is covered in snow, and everything moves really slowly, and everything is decaying. So all the majestic sceneries are less majestic. And only Elaine could make the palace of the capital of a major country seem dull. Only you Elaine.
As a young fantasy reader, I loved every book of the Wot, but coming back to it this 7-9th time (I lost count, remember, my personal Harry Potter here) it’s lost a lot of it’s Novel Mystery, and I can see the writing Mechanics behind the scenes, and see how they could have been better done better. It is a shame but also a relief that it is Brandon Sanderson who got to fulfill Robert Jordan’s act 3, relief because there are some character arcs that Brandon was singularly adept at handling, but also a shame because we will never get to see how Robert Jordan would have executed (not planned, because we know that often, RJ’s notes were expansive on the subject matter) his third act.
For readers slogging through the 2nd act for the first time (books 7-11ish), you are almost done, and the pay off is wonderful
For loyal readers, yes the book has pacing and character arc problems, but there are subtle hints of amazing things to come, and you have time to focus on the clever foreshadowings and setups for the next books. Oh, and Nynaeve isn’t completely deplorable this book around. Apparently she gave it all to Min. I digress, I still love this book to death, if only because it heralds the end of my time in RandLand.