I suggest we start by taking a look at the blurb:
As the very fabric of reality wears thin all portents indicate that Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, is imminent.Not all the portents, though, surely? For instance, there’s the counter-portent that we’re still two-and-a-half-thousand pages away from even the start of the final volume. So I’m not sure ‘imminent’ is the word I’d use.
--and Rand al’Thor must ready himself to confront the Dark One.He hasn’t had enough time to ready himself? If eleven fat volumes don’t give him enough time, I’m not sure what meaning the phrase ‘enough time’ can possibly have.
But Rand must first negotiate a truce with the Seanchan armies, as their forces increasingly sap his strength.That’s a bold move, by the publishers, there. Brave. I mean, putting a reference to ‘sapped strength’ right there, in plain view, on the back of this book.
The cover image, up there, is a bit of a cheat. I actually read this volume (and by ‘read’ I mean ‘forced my weary eyes onward page by tedious page’) in the UK orbit paperback, which has this image on the front:
But the painting cover is so gloriously bad I decided to front the post with it. Bad in a ‘lady goes into a wallpaper shop to find behind the counter not, as she expected, a wallpaper shop assistant, but instead a man dressed as a Spanish conquistador manipulating a life-size ventriloquist dummy whilst a larger feller with three spears sticking out of his arse stands to one side watching’ sort of way.
On the other hand, the Orbit paperback cover has that eye-gladdening ‘Thames Hospicecare 50p’ sticker.
Otherwise, what have we got? Well, stylistically it’s the same hideous jumble, the same self-parodic bloat. Jordan is a writer who writes ‘this fire was not at all small, and the room seemed not far short of hot, a welcome heat that soaked into the flesh and banished shivers’  because he is constitutionally allergic to the phrasing ‘a large fire warmed the room.’ He thinks the former sentence is more precise and therefore evocative. He’s wrong. That's not precision, it’s a finicky fussing textual aspergers, a style that can see nothing but details (and, more to the point, nothing but a certain very limited palate of details – colours of clothing, speed of movement, types of food, gradations of heat and cold—never the telling details great writers master). It is a style wholly incapable of illuminating penetration or evocation. Knife of Dreams is a novel in which this havering, hesitant John Majorish ‘a not un-large fire that was not un-warming’ idiocy has spread into all the limbs of the novel. Quite apart from anything else—‘the fire was hot, a welcome heat that soaked into the flesh and banished shivers’? I ask you. As opposed to a heat that bounces off the flesh and chills the very bones? Because that’s not the sort of heat you want from an open fire. No indeedy.
So, yes, I’m still breaking this butterfly upon the wheel.
Romanda took a longer look, and nearly gasped herself. I gasped myself the other day, actually. I’ve still got the red mark. Painful. What else? Well, there seemed to be an enormous amount of gathering of skirts in the novel, viz.: ‘Amylia jumped, then gathered her bronze-colored skirts to her knees’ .
They were disparate men, alike only in the way a leopard was like a lion. So these two men were alike in that … they both had four legs?
Gathering her skirts, Malind jumped down and rushed out. Again with the skirts!
Naris grimaced, before gathering her skirts and darting into the corridor. OK. I think the skirt gathering point has been made. What I mean is, it’s not as if the novel is all gathering skirts, and nothing but gathering skirts. There’s plenty of other things.
“That would be stealing,” Mistress Anan told him, in a lecturing tone, gathering her cloak around her. See? Cloak.
First came Seonid, a short woman holding her dark divided skirts up out of the mud.That one doesn’t even use the word ‘gathering’! This is the kind of stylistic and descriptive variation that makes Jordan the writer he is.
“Fail me, and you’ll regret it!” Gathering the skirts of her silk robe, she scurried away into the crowd. OK. That one uses ‘gathering.’ I concede that. But, look, there’s plenty you can do with skirts, apart from gathering them up or holding them out of the mud! See:
Her mouth snapped shut, and she smoothed her dark blue skirts unnecessarily…I rest my case.
…then the small dark woman began walking toward them slowly, holding her pleated skirts up off the damp ground. Conceivably I rested my case too soon.
The small dark woman is Tuon, a Seanchan princess, and the book gives us a lot of detail, and tells us almost nothing, about her, and her relationship with Mat. There’s also some business with Elayne, and a certain amount of Rand faffing about. Although, to speak truthfully, plotwise there’s not an awful lot to report here. The 90-page prologue does contain some action: tension, a duel, build-up. But it’s a false dawn. The most memorable thing in the novel is that Rand gets his left-hand Luke-Skywalkered. Otherwise a summary of the novel might be: people wear clothes of varying styles and colours; people talk to people about various things; the food is all going off, but that doesn’t stop people eating enormous minutely detailed meals all the time. That aside, what is there in Knife of Dreams but Jordan’s unique prose? That prose ... one last time, for the gipper?
‘On the wind roared … shrieking over military camps near the river where soldiers and camp followers sleeping on the ground suddenly had their blankets stripped off and those in tents awoke to canvas jerking.’  I tried canvas jerking myself, when I was younger. Painful. Or, wait … did I already do that gag?I tell you what. Let’s give Faile the last word:
‘His scowl deepened creases on his flushed face that needed no deepening.’ 
‘They slept together like puppies of necessity.’  That’s a quotation from Shakespeare, you know: ‘Cry havoc and let slip/The puppies of necessity.’ Julius Caesar, I think.
‘Only Alliandre was there, lying facedown on her blankets in her collar with a damp cloth dipped in an herbal infusion over her bruised bottom.’  If there's one thing Jordan likes more than attractive women being spanked on their bare arses, it's attractive women learning to love such abusive treatment. The word for this is: cre-e-epy.
‘He must have a leather tongue.’  Must he? What if he doesn’t want one?
‘He was studying the board, when Joline led Teslyn and Edesina into the wagon like haughty on a pedestal, smooth-faced Aes Sedai to their toenails.’  I’m afraid I don’t understand that sentence at all.
‘Essande produced an ivory-backed hairbrush and removed the towel from Elayne’s head.’  Neat trick!
‘Elayne trembled, hands tightening to fists on the arms of her chair.’ 
‘Elayne laid one finger atop a bronze horseman less than a hand tall, standing a few leagues west of the city.’  Another neat trick!
‘His ears quivered with embarrassment yet again. He had a great deal to learn about being a husband.’ 
‘The face of the man from Shadar Logoth floated in his head for a moment. He looked furious. And near to sicking up.’ 
‘She tried to work moisture into her mouth, but it was thick’ 
‘She showed him her teeth, hoping he did not take it for a grin.’ 
‘Before you can have eyeless prisoners, you need an eyeless victory. What we’ve had are a string of eyeless defeats.’  Wise words.
‘Abruptly Loune seemed to recall who he was talking to. His face turned to dark wood, a hard mask.’  And there’s yet another neat trick!
‘Faile clasped her hands together. Of course she was solid. Hoisting her robes to avoid any more washing than she absolutely had to do, she began to walk. And then to run.