Book Review: CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT, and middle-book syndrome

I just finished reading Crossroads of Twilight, the tenth book in Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series. I’ve already mentioned this book a couple times in recent posts, mostly because it took me longer than I expected to get through it. And not in a good way.

Ten books into this series, I’ve run into more than a couple of stretches where there doesn’t seem to be any real narrative movement, and the characters’ insistence on running in place when there’s a path laid out for them has been frustrating.

This book, however, was the hardest installment of this series for me to get through. Rather than running in place, or even building up to something, the characters in this book just did nothing.

There were a lot of conversations, a lot of plans being made without any details as to what they were, or even what they were aiming to achieve, and a lot of schemes.

Always with the schemes in these books.

Schemes within schemes that are so convoluted, so tepidly hinted at by the POV character of the moment, that the reader can’t possibly have any real clue of what’s really happening. There are so many characters now in this series, and they all have their perfect little plans laid out and ready to spring, except the reader has no idea what any of them are, and there are 200 of them!

Ugh.

So, yeah, this book took me some time to get through. I was simply not interested in most of what was happening. I read the last third of this book in fits and starts just trying to get to the end.

The structure of the chapters was at first intriguing to me. The book is structured in such a way that you follow one particular character or set of characters for several chapters in a row before abruptly pivoting to another character. I think this would have been an effective mechanism to develop specific character arcs if most of the chapters didn’t feel like filler content.

Without getting into details, I was particularly interested in both Elayne’s and Mat’s narratives in this book, but I haven’t heard from Elayne since the first third, and Mat’s story took an unexpected if interesting turn at the end.

All of this is to say that I’m happy to be done with this book, and I’m taking a break before getting into book 11.

Jordan has always toed the line between being just vague enough while building suspense. This story did not build anything. The last few chapters are interesting and definitely set up for book 11, but they do not make up for the 700+ pages of what felt like filler content.

Steve D

March Write Day: Monotones

Monotonous. That is how I would sum up my February. Whether it was stress at work, an uneventful social calendar, or lackluster exercise progress, February was not great for me mentally, physically, or otherwise. I’m not sure why this monotony hit me now as opposed to any other time in pandemic times, but it did.

I’m glad we’ve entered a new month, because I need something to break me out of this funk.


Last Month’s Goals

  1. Write 6,855 words for The Herb Witch Tales #2.
  2. Do more yoga and resistance training.
  3. Finish 4 books.

Write 6,855 words?

Nope. I buried the lead by saying I didn’t make much exercise progress, but I also didn’t make much writing progress! I wrote about 3,300 words in February, which isn’t terrible, but I’m definitely not proud of it. I just lost motivation about halfway through the month for reasons other than my story.

In the last week of the month, I decided to begin the third draft of Uprooted, giving myself a break from drafting its sequel by hand in a journal. I wrote over 500 words in one short sitting, I wish I had turned to this story earlier in the month. I probably could have gotten a lot more done.

My as yet untitled part 2 is still coming along, just not as quickly as I would like. I’m at a pivotal point in the story where tension between two characters is supposed to be escalating, and I’m having trouble hitting the right emotional notes. Now that I’m more than two-thirds of the way towards my total word count goal of 38k, I also have my sights set on the ending. So, this is just an important point int he drafting process that I simply did not have the determinaiton to attack in February.

I’m hoping that revisiting part 1 and shoring up some of the larger issues with these stories in that draft will help me prepare for the ending of part 2.

Do more yoga and resistance training?

I started off strong but fell off my routine a bit towards the end of the month. When I’m in a funk, everything tends to spiral, so I’m not surprised this happened. Luckily, I’ve already started off on a good foot in March, so I’m not too worried. I like exercising regularly way more than I like not doing that. I just need to make it a point to do so during the day.

You’ll see this in my goals for this month, but I really want to focus on exercising more consistently, and continuing to add variety to my routine.

Finish 4 books?

No, but I’m not taking full blame for this one. I finished two books in February and am most of the way through three others. I got stuck on Crossroads of Twilight, which became even more of a slog of a book than I thought last month. I just didn’t feel like reading it, which may be the first time that’s happened with a Wheel of Time novel. Luckily, I’ve reached a point in the book that’s a bit more interesting. At this point, I just want to finish the damn thing so I can complain about it in my review.

On a positive note, I’ve dipped back into comics for my reading for the first time in probably… two decades. I’ve really enjoyed the MCU films, and particularly Thor, so I wanted to read some of the more recent Thor comics. With Thor: Love and Thunder coming out in the relative future, and rumors flying around about Jane Foster as Thor, I settled on Jason Aaron’s run with the Thor comics from about 2012 forward. He wrote the series, Thor: God of Thunder, that eventually leads to Jane Foster taking up the hammer and continued the arc from there.

So I’m buying the collected volumes of those issues wherever I find them. Currently on volume two, Godbomb, and really enjoying it. As a friend and avid comics reader told me recently, Marvel’s “Marvel Now” run of comics in the late 00’s and early 2010’s was designed to bring in non-comics readers by resetting a lot of their characters’ stories and not bogging them down with decades of canon. Which is just… I’m the precise audience for this.

That’s honestly one of the highlights of February for me.

Goals for March

  1. Write 6,000 words. I don’t care which of my Herb Witch Tales drafts I end up putting more time into this month. I just want to hit my word count goal. More than likely I will work on each as the mood takes me, which is probably for the better anyway.
  2. Work out at least every other day. This is a slightly different goal, but is more to the point of my exercise routine. If I take more than one day off in a row, I start to feel it physically and mentally. So, regardless of how many days I work out this month, I just don’t want to let my days off take away from my routine.
  3. Finish 4 books. Okay, I really am in the best position possible to do this in March. I have 200 pages left in Crossroads, barely a chapter left in an audiobook, and a freaking comic to finish. I should be able to finish each of those this week without trying, and easily polish off another book by April.

Steve D

February Write Day: Movement

January went somewhat fast in retrospect, but in the moment it felt like the longest month since… October. A lot happened, and about the only things keeping me from losing my mind to utter despair about the world are spending time with my son and having my existentialist grounding reinforced by some appropriate reading.

Did that get too dark? That was probably too dark. Onto the goals! Continue reading “February Write Day: Movement”

May Write Day: Onto the Second Draft!

April flew by, but I’m pretty happy with where I ended up. I ended up deciding to shift my goals mid-month, and I think it’s important to be flexible where possible.

For instance, my now more chaotic work area pictured above. My desk is sitting in the middle of my office as I try to rearrange the furniture and prepare for a much smaller desk in my ever-shrinking office/storage closet. Continue reading “May Write Day: Onto the Second Draft!”

#AmConsuming: No Time for Binging

My lack of real consuming time continues, but there are a few interesting things I’ve picked up over the last month or so.

No more procrastinating!

#AmFinished

The Path of Daggers, Robert Jordan

I finished the eighth book of The Wheel of Time last week, and overall, it was alright. I gave it a 3-star review on Goodreads, because the ending I thought was coming was sort of punted into the next book (or three). Jordan also yadda-yadda’d what probably should have been a pivotal battle sequence in the epilogue.

I’m definitely going to keep reading this series, but I’m taking a break with some other things for now.

#AmReading

The Horse, The Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern Worldby David W. Anthony (Audible)

I’m still plugging away at this extremely long audiobook, but I’ve largely enjoyed it. The main reason I haven’t finished it is because by the time I get into my car for my evening commute, my phone is nearly dead and I need to charge it. In short: I need to have a phone charger at work.

Click., by Luther M. Siler

This is the next book I started as a break from Jordan. I won this book from the author’s blog by being the first to respond to one of his posts. It is otherwise only available from his Patreon site, or directly from him at conventions. Considering he’s based in northern Indiana (and I haven’t yet delved into Patreon), I jumped at the chance to pick up a copy.

Like his other writing I’ve read, this book is quirky, sarcastic, and a little bit goofy–and I’m enjoying the heel out of it. I’m a measly 20 pages in, but I know I’ll like it. His writing style is infectious.

City of Bridges, by Stace Dumoski (Wattpad)

I am also still picking away at this one, and enjoying it very much. Some of the more fantastical and world-building elements of the story are starting to poke through, so I’m looking forward to continuing this one.

#AmWatching

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Hulu

I started watching season 7 episode to episode on Hulu, and it’s been alright. This show has recycled previous plot devices and characters in interesting ways for a few seasons, but this season feels a bit more redundant than before. I get the feeling were nearing the end of this show’s lifespan, unless Disney gives it new life on their streaming service.

Still, I’ve enjoyed spending time with Daisy, Fitz, Simmons, and various versions of Clark Gregg this long, and I see no reason to stop now.

That’s It!

Told you I have little time for binge-watching/reading.

On a side note, my wife and I “inherited” her brother’s PS2 recently, and I started playing through Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I’ve never played any GTA game except to wreak havoc on my friend’s versions, so this is a new experience for me. I also haven’t had time to sit down more than once, so I didn’t add this to the list yet. My wife, however, is really enjoying Ratchet and Klank, so there’s that.

Steve D

#AmConsuming: A Sudden Dearth of Consuming Time

June has been a tough month for my consumption of various media. I started my new job two weeks ago, and I’ve spent most of that time trying to hone my daily routine.

That means things like binge-watching Netflix or Hulu and even reading–unfortunately–have fallen by the wayside for now. But I’ve still managed to check some things off my list. Continue reading “#AmConsuming: A Sudden Dearth of Consuming Time”

#AmConsuming: Too Much Streaming Content = No Streaming, Plus Audible!

Now that you all know that I haven’t been writing much for the last month, I think it’s only fair that I shed some light on what I have been doing.

Welcome to #AmConsuming January. Like my new writing updates, I’m going to try this as a monthly series. Continue reading “#AmConsuming: Too Much Streaming Content = No Streaming, Plus Audible!”