Crossroads of Twilight
is an ugly duckling in The Wheel of Time
. Parts of the book are chronologically set in the same time span as the previous book and other parts are set in the 'current' time after the ninth book. Adding to the unorthodox chronological timing of this book is the fact that, of all the books in this series, this book is a 'filler' book. That is not to say that nothing worth noting happens in this book. After all we see a lot of important character development, Egwene ends up kidnapped and Mat and Tuon develop their relationship. However, I feel that this book could have done better had it been edited and strung together with either book nine alone or with book eight and nine.
What keeps me reading these books however is the characterisation, the magic and the general world-building. As I've mentioned several times Robert Jordan was never the greatest word-smith. His turn of phrase is at times clumsy in his books and his word choice under deep examination would perhaps prove quite flawed. However in my eyes the flaws humanise these novels and serve to remove that element of pomposity I sense in other fantasy epics. I'm not saying that at times Jordan doesn't lose track of how big his world is, but I don't sense that in his writing he is suggesting that the reader look at how amazing he is and how good he is. Something that I have sensed in the popular [b:A Game of Thrones|13496|A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire, #1)|George R.R. Martin|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1359134576s/13496.jpg|1466917]. I'm saying that Robert Jordan, while he was alive, was likely a down to earth individual simply judging from his easy going style with writing and that is something that appeals to me, ridiculous as that may sound.
One of the major themes of The Wheel of Time
is birth, death and rebirth. In many ways, while this is a popularised fantasy epic it also has ideas within it about life, ideas which are important to our reality. That said, this is at its heart, still designed to be a story rather than a lesson in how we are to live. So I can't recommend that you go into these novels expecting anything other than a fascinating story. I feel that I simply happen to see more in the novels than is presented to the casual reader. And yet I make sure that I never read so far into the books that everything becomes a metaphor for some real world event.
To go back to the topic of birth, death and rebirth, I find that in this series the characters particularly represent rebirth. There is the element of characters literally being reborn heroes from the past, an idea which resonates with me in that it symbolises how history repeats itself, with old 'archetypes' and scenarios recurring and great leaders/heroes arising. However the other way that rebirth is shown is a symbolic rebirth with characters being transformed from regular farmherds into magic wielding heroes. And, unlike most other books which take this 'heroes' journey' route, the series generally has decent character progression with the exception of one or two exceptions.
As said in other reviews I recommend the series with the warning that some of the books are a slow drag compared to others. This is one of the slow dragging novels, and one of the last, with the next book speeding up and featuring many important plot points.