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January  2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Robert Jordan at the NYC signing of Crossroads of Twilight.
Photo: Bruce Wallace © SFRevu

Feature Book: Crossroads of Twilight
Book Ten of The Wheel of Time
by Robert Jordan
Tor (Hardcover)
0312864590 (January 2003)
676 pages, List Price $29.95
Review by Bruce Wallace
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Feature Interview:
Robert Jordan

Crossroads of Twilight is the eagerly anticipated continuation of Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series. The series chronicles the adventures of the three ta’veren – Rand al’Thor, Mat Caulthon and Perrin Aybara and the companions they gather around them as they try to save the world from the powers of darkness. A ta’veren changes the weave of life and hence everyone they encounter. It is truly a novel in which the characters, forces set in motion in previous volumes, and enemies and allies come together like a gathering storm.

At the beginning of the series the three boys are village lads on the run for their lives with only the help of allies they don’t understand or know well enough to trust. Now, as the series advances gradually towards its eventual climax the boys have become young men who are forces to be reckoned with and their companions have become or will become, powerful leaders in their own right.

Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, fated to save the world from the ever-growing shadow or break it in the struggle, still recovering from the fight of his life now has his whole alliance to hold together as he prepares for the final battle.  Perrin Aybara has become a war leader with a powerful wife and powerful allies and enemies of his own. Still in search of his wife Faile, kidnapped at the end of the last book (Winter's Heart) he has to consider whether getting her back at all costs extends to possibly betraying Rand and the fragile alliance he has put together. At the same time Mat often thought to be nothing more than a gambler and a wastrel, although and incredible lucky one, has discovered that the woman he has taken captive may in fact be the woman he believes he is fated to marry, a woman he knows only as the daughter of the Nine Moons.

Several of the trio’s companions are engaged in struggles of their own. Ewgene is struggling to reunite the divided White Tower while battling Aes Sedai who won’t accept her leadership and possible infiltration from the Dark Friends as well. In Andor, Elayne tries to take the throne that should be hers by right while being beset by Dark Friends, palace intrigues and worse.

What separates this series from most us against them, powers of light against the powers of darkness series is the detail and the intimate, intellectual process the author takes us through as the series progresses. At the core of this book and all the books in the series, are the  forceful personalities as well the agendas that arise as the story develops.. Great powers are at work and evil stalks the land as the splintered forces of good, our three heroes and their companions, try to make sense of the task at hand and achieve it.

This is not a simple case of destroying an evil artifact and getting on with one’s life. At the start we know there is a problem and that these three friends have been chosen to solve it. The nuts and bolts of the solution are not readily apparent.  This book and the ones before for it are all about how difficult it actually is to save the world. The intricate cast of characters, their relationships with each other and the special skills they bring to the adventure provide the impetus to propel the series forward slowly, somewhat weighed down by its complexity, book after book leading ever closer to the final resolution. 

Crossroads of Twilight is not just a story of strength of arms or magic winning the day. It is a story of negotiation, deft spy craft and politics from the highest to the low. It is an amazing tale of magic and wonder and I recommend it to all Wheel of Time fans present and future. However…  

If you have not read the previous nine books in this series than neither this review nor reading this latest entry will help you understand this world and its heroes. Nonetheless it’s worth the trip so hurry and read the other nine books and join the journey. 

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