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A Crown of Swords
Robert Jordan
Tor Books, 881 pages

Crown of Swords
Robert Jordan
Robert Jordan is the pseudonym of American writer James Oliver Rigney, Jr., who has also written as Regan O'Neal, Jackson O'Reilly, and Chang Lung. Jordan began his career as a fantasy author with seven Conan novels, starting with Conan the Invincible (1982); the last was Conan the Victorious (1984). In addition to the seven-volume Wheel of Time series, he has also authored a non-fiction look at his fantasy epic, The World of Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time, with Teresa Patterson.

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A review by Jim Seidman


A Crown of Swords is the seventh and latest book of Robert Jordan's masterpiece fantasy epic series, The Wheel of Time. The book, which was a #1 bestseller in hardback, is now finally available in a paperback edition.

Robert Jordan is one of the very few authors who can maintain the quality of a fantasy series this long. In A Crown of Swords he continues to demonstrate the meticulous forethought and planning that make this series read more like a gigantic single book than a collection of independent volumes.

For those people who have not read any books in this series, I highly recommend them. The story is brilliantly executed, despite a few of the plot elements being a bit trite. The series chronicles a battle between elemental forces of good and evil. On the evil side is the Dark One, a Satan-like figure who has been imprisoned for many centuries but whose prison is now weakening. On the good corner is Rand al'Thor, a young farmer from a backwater town who turns out to be the reincarnation of the man who led the forces to imprison the Dark One. Rand al'Thor, along with many other people, is able to channel the "One Power," a force akin to magic which allows him to accomplish a variety of feats.

Unfortunately when the Dark One was imprisoned, in his last strike against mankind, he polluted the male half of the One Power. Thus, any men who use the Power -- Rand included -- are destined to go insane. In fact, after the Dark One was imprisoned, insane men wielding the Power destroyed most of civilization. Thus many people view men using the Power, and Rand especially, with great suspicion.

The Dark One, despite being imprisoned, can still communicate with people who visit him. He has a wide network of "darkfriends" who infiltrate every organization with the purpose of furthering his causes. All of this adds up to a difficult life for Rand, who must work against not only the Dark One and his minions, but many well-meaning but misguided regular people.

I will not give a plot summary of A Crown of Swords, since that would likely ruin the story for those people just starting the series. However, there are some notable stylistic differences in this book. For example, Jordan tells the narrative from the point of view of a given character much more often. In some cases he even recounts the same sequence twice from two different points of view. Also, the glossary in the book is greatly slimmed down from previous versions, perhaps in an attempt to sell more of the new companion book. Strangely, some information on the characters appears only in the glossary and is never mentioned in the story itself.

If you have been following the series to this point, there is no reason to stop now. A Crown of Swords does not disappoint in continuing the story's action. If you're considering starting the series now, however, I would suggest that you wait. One unfortunate consequence of Jordan's incredibly attention to detail is the long wait between books. I would advise readers new to the series to wait a few more years for the remaining books to appear and then to read them all at once.

Copyright © 1997 James Seidman

James Seidman is a busy technology manager, who needs the excuse of doing book reviews to give himself time to read. He lives with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and twenty-seven fish in Naperville, Illinois.

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