Knife of Dreams (WoT #11)

WoT11Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Knife of Dreams, the eleventh installment of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and the last he completed before his death, is a return to earlier in the series.  Throughout Knife of Dreams, events that had been boiling around many primary protagonists for several books finally came to fruition.  The Perrin-Faile-Shaido storyarc throughout the book led up to a combined assault upon the Shaido by Perrin’s forced and the Seanchan in Malden.  Elayne’s quest for the Throne of Andor came to a successful conclusion, but a perilous one for her going forward especially after an attack by the Black Ajah.  Mat’s unusual courtship with Tuon came to a ‘successful’ conclusion, but not without battles not just martial.  Finally, Rand and Egwene continued on their respective paths to leadership though Egwene found herself undermining the White Tower from within as an ‘lowly’ novice while Rand continued struggling with his internal demons as well as unruly nobles just before a brutal meeting with Semirhage.

While there were negatives, one being unnecessary padding early in the book, they were quickly forgotten as events in the book picked up.  Of the last four books before Knife of Dreams, only Winter’s Heart provided anything substantial (at least to me) while the others seemed mostly a collection of story lines with little happening.  With Knife of Dreams, events seemed to be building and three words kept on appearing, more so further along in the book, the Last Battle.  After finishing Knife of Dreams, it felt like the series had completed it’s long 2nd Act and was gearing up for the 3rd and final Act.

The Wheel of Time Page

The Monster of Florence

0446581275-01-_sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_The Monster of Florence by Douglas Preston
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

The Monster of Florence is the first true crime book I’ve ever read and while I knew it was about a serial killer and the investigation in catching the perpetrator that went off the rails, then I read the book and couldn’t believe it. The first portion of the book detailed the killings themselves following Spezi’s steps as he reported the happens in and around Florence with the crimes then the various investigations that led to interesting trials. The second portion of the book saw Preston enter the story and how his life was turned around by the Monster case especially from the hands of Giuliano Mignini. The Afterward of Preston’s view of the then-developing Amanda Knox case in light of his own knowledge of Italian journalism and justice was very poignant when looking years back.

Although I have read about how many people didn’t like the details Preston gave about his own experience with the Italian justice system, but I thought it helped highlight one of the problems plaguing the Monster case which seemed to be the point of the book. While Preston and Spezi have come up with a likely candidate for the Monster himself, the fact that they must battle decades old conspiracy theories seems the longest shadow that has cast itself over this case.

Angry Saints: Tensions and Possibilities in the Adventist Struggle Over Righteousness by Faith

dd76d2cf42bb6e25977364a5077444341587343Angry Saints: Tensions and Possibilities in the Adventist Struggle Over Righteousness by Faith by George R. Knight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The 1888 General Conference session in Minneapolis was both a triumph and humiliation for the Seventh-day Adventist church because of the issue debated at it, the atmosphere they were debated in, and the resulting conflict within Adventism itself for the last 125 years.  George R. Knight not only examines the issues and the course of events before and after Minneapolis, but also the major individuals involved in a thorough manner.  Published around the 100th anniversary of the Minneapolis session, this book is important for every Adventist to read, both new and long-time.

The issue at Minneapolis was a new interpretation of the law in the book of Galatians by E.J. Waggoner & A.T. Jones that emphasized righteousness by faith that was supported by Ellen White.  This interpretation of Galatians was opposed by G.C. President George Butler and Uriah Smith, the editor of Review and Herald, and their ministerial allies.  The atmosphere of the session was contentious, a carry over from the 1886 session, in which the “traditionalists” and the “reformers” fought over the meaning of basic Christian truths with those of supposed Adventist truths as the nation debated a National Sunday Law.  After Minneapolis, the two factions continued to clash with one another over the understanding that has continued in essence until the present day.

The denomination triumphed at Minneapolis because it rediscovered the need to emphasize the righteousness and justification of faith in Christ along with the Ten Commandments, including the seventh-day Sabbath.  Another triumph was the emphasis to return to reading the Bible over following the lead of denominational leaders and not investigating their teachings.  However the humiliations for Adventists are more pronounced, especially when one considered that 40 years after the Great Disappointment a member of the denomination could be an Adventist but not Christian.  Another humiliation was that denominational leaders were trying to emphasis human authority instead of the Bible to “protect” supposed Adventist beliefs and even wanted to create creeds to protect them.  But the biggest humiliation that two factions that sparred over the law of Galatians have continued in essence to the present-day resulting at times of a divided church facing potentially facing dangerous situations.

Knight goes over all everything I have just stated in great detail, but I found the most important part of the book to me was the last chapter entitled, “The Continuing Possibility.”  Within this chapter, Knight uses his own early experience as an Adventist as an example of the continuing problem that is can be seen in some Adventist churches.  Within the context of the preceding chapters, this final one puts the crisis in Minneapolis squarely into our time and challenges us to examine how we relate to Christ.

Crossroads of Twilight (WoT #10)

WoT10Crossroads of Twilight by Robert Jordan
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The tenth installment of Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, Crossroads of Twilight, has been maligned from readers since it’s publication and with understandable reasons.  The story arcs of Perrin, Mat, Elayne, and Egwene are given the emphasis throughout the book with only a touch of Rand near the closure of the book.  The majority of the book’s time period leads up to and during the climatic final chapter of Winter’s Heart before finally advancing when Egwene’s story arc begins.  Though out the book, everything seems to be moving pieces into place for something big to happen but it never really materializes. In each of the last chapters for Perrin, Mat, and Egwene a dramatic turning in the plot happens but leaving the reader to wait until the next installment to find out what happens resulting in frustration.

Crossroads of Twilight is a mixture of positives and negatives, with the latter emphasized because of the two year wait and the fact that Prologue was almost a tenth of the book even though some of the bits within that were interest.  However, even though this book can be frustrating at times (my came in about three-quarters of the way through waiting for something to happen) it is a necessity to read as The Wheel of Time draws to it conclusion.

The Wheel of Time Page