The eagerly awaited 10th installment (after 2000's Winter's Heart) in Jordan's monumental Wheel of Time has all the breadth and depth that have made this fantasy author one of the acknowledged greats of the genre. Like Tolkien's Ring trilogy, Wheel of Time is a single, extended novel rather than a series, and in Crossroads, new characters join the cast and old favorites grow ever more complex. Yet if the scope of Jordan's richly nuanced creation has won him millions of readers, it also forms the saga's biggest obstacle. Here Mat Cauthon is still fleeing the Seanchan; Perrin Goldeneyes still hunts the Shaido to free his beautiful wife, Faile; the cities Caemlyn and Tar Valon are still besieged and the battles have not been joined. Those impatient with the glacial movement of the last four books will find more of the same. As the title suggests, this entry represents a turning point, a time of momentous decisions as the rebel Aes Sedai consider an alliance with the Asha'man and Rand ponders a truce with the Seanchan. Lending perhaps the most recognizable humanity is Mat's love interest, Tuon, the spoiled, adorable Daughter of the Nine Moons, whose kidnapping is concealed by Valan Luca's Grand Traveling Show and Magnificent Display of Marvels and Wonders. She twists Mat around her finger, deliberately annoying him by calling him "Toy." The epilogue suggests Tuon will play a major role in volume 11. Jordan fans who miss the breakneck pace of the earlier books can always hope the action will pick up again. (Jan. 7)
Forecast:Backed by a $600,000 national marketing campaign, which includes an author tour, this one is guaranteed to debut at number one on many lists.