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Towers of Midnight is the thirteenth book in The Wheel Of Time series that began in 1990. This is the second volume that is co-authored by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death in 2007. The first co-authored book, The Gathering Storm (TGS), was well received by long time Wheel Of Time fans, and this new volume has been well received as well. Towers Of Midnight (TOM) debuted at number 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list.
The book starts off with the usual lengthy Prologue that at times can be distracting to the reader. The Prologue always does a good job of setting up the tone of the book and catching the reader up to what is going on in Randland (It has never revealed to the readers what the name of the fictional nation is, so fans have taken to calling it Randland after the name of the main character Rand.). However, the Prologue is distracting in that while eager to get going in the story and read about the main characters, the reader is forced to read about random tertiary characters and what they are up to. This is a staple in the Wheel Of Time series, but to me has always been a distraction to me.
The series has had three main characters, Rand, Mat and Perrin, that it’s been focusing on, along with some strong secondary characters. The story starts off with an introductory chapter of the main character, Rand, which is appropriate after the last book, TGS, ends with a dramatic chapter involving Rand. To have the first chapter pick up where the last one left off on, was a great transition to the new book. The second chapter then introduces Perrin into the story. One of the criticisms of TGS was that Perrin’s storyline was not addressed much. Well this book makes up for it as the Perrin storyline was addressed in great detail and was the major point of view (POV) addressed in the book.
One of the complaints of TOM is that the different storylines don’t match up. This was an editing decision made by TOR (the publisher of The Wheel Of Time) as a result of a previous decision made by TOR for the previous volume. When Robert Jordan died in 2007, he was working on the final book (at the time), A Memory of Light. Afterwards, TOR brought Brandon Sanderson on board to finish up the final book. It was then later determined to split the final book into three books. Due to this decision the storylines had to be juggled between the two books. The decision was made to address all storylines, except Perrin’s, in TGS thus moving Perrin’s POV to TOM. So while all the other characters POV continue on in TOM, Perrin’s TOM POV is actually being addressed in the past. Perrin’s POV is eventually caught up to the rest of the characters POV. I go off on this tangent because until the reader realizes this it can be a little confusing.
Throughout the duration of the series, Perrin has been my least favorite of the three main characters. So when I heard that TOM was going to be heavy on the Perrin POV, I was a little wary of how I was going to receive the book. I must admit though, that due to Brandon Sanderson’s writing of Perrin, I’ve grown to enjoy reading about Perrin like I haven’t since the opening books in the series. Brandon has said that his favorite character has been Perrin, so I believe this had something to do with how well he has written Perrin.
Perrin’s POV not only includes Perrin, but his wife, Faile. When Faile was first introduced into the story there was some good banter between the two that carried on throughout the story. However, during the last few books, this angst has just festered and in my opinion has not gone anywhere. I felt that this problem lead to the whole Perrin storyline and character development stagnating and unbearable to read. In TOM this conflict is resolved nicely and it felt like the literary flood gates were opened and Perrin’s storyline was literarily released.
The pace of the novel moved along very nicely and had a great flow to it. There are a number of exciting battle scenes. The first is a Trolloc invasion from the Blight as they attack a Borderlands city. The battle involves Trollocs, Myrddraal, and Dragkhar all fighting at once against Borderlanders and Asha’man. This is a knock down, drag out battle that rages on for quite some time. The battle is well written and well executed from a literary standpoint. The battle serves as a great setup not only showing the immensity of the Shadowspawn hoard that is amassing in the Blight and preparing to attack the Borderlands, but also the battle also serves as a primer for the Last Battle. The Last Battle has always been an Armageddon event referred to since the first book. This Battle will take center stage in the next book, A Memory Of Light
In the middle act of the story there was a great multi-POV battle that amped up the story’s pacing even more as several Black Ajah sisters attacked the White Tower, while Seanchan assassins sprung their trap on the Amyrlin Seat, during which time Perrin had his long awaited personal showdown in the Dream World with Slayer that came to a head.
Then there was the showdown between Mat and the gholam. These two first met and dueled in Book Seven, A Crown Of Swords. Mat is finally able to meet the gholam and fight it on his own terms.
TOM contains one of the most anticipated events in the whole series. The infiltration of the Tower of Ghenji by Matrim Cauthon and company. The mysterious Tower first appeared in the opening book in the series, The Eye Of The World, and it was established in an earlier novel, that Moraine (a character who was thought to have died) has been alive and is being held in the Tower. Mat, Thom and Noal devise a plan to infiltrate the Tower and break out Moraine who is being held captive. The rescue event does not disappoint and once again Mat shines as he sticks his neck out for another character who is in dire need. This sequence also carried the pacing of the story and made it fun to read.
Some minor criticisms of the story aren’t really harsh criticisms but are something that should be addressed. The voice of the characters are different. This is to be expected as a different author is writing the story and is carrying the Wheel Of Time torch. Brandon Sanderson does not have the same writing style as Robert Jordan. Brandon has never said that he will try and imitate Robert Jordan as that would be almost impossible and would do a disservice to Robert Jordan and his Wheel Of Time legacy. Brandon has stated that he will try and capture the feeling of the story and write it the best way he can. For me, as a reader, the writing style and the voice of the characters is noticeably different. However, I do feel that although different, the story is better off especially at this late stage. Brandon has made the comparisons that he is an “architect” of stories, while Robert Jordan was a “gardener” of stories. Meaning that Brandon outlines and structures his stories and then writes them within those guidelines, while Robert Jordan would just write and write and let the story grow as he went along. This is why a Wheel Of Time trilogy has turned into a fourteen book series. I for one, appreciate that the story has been reined in and is headed towards a long time coming conclusion. I’ve enjoyed the ride, but it is time to wrap it up and deliver on the story’s climax.
*Hopefully you’ve made it this far into the review. I know it is long, but it is my inaugural review and the book is over 800 pages long! I tried to keep it major spoiler free, as it is a new release book. Let me know if it is still too vague or what you thought of this initial review so RandomAngst.com can keep getting better. 🙂
The level of angst in the story would be at a Three. There is plenty of external conflict in the story with the fighting and the battles going on throughout the story. The internal conflict is present, from Gawyn’s internal struggle with whether or not he wants to be Egwene or not; to Faile and Berelain’s confrontation over Perrin and who they believe would best serve Perrin in the future. There is a scene between Perrin and the Whitecloaks that produces an almost palpable level of angst just in the trial sequence alone. Even Aviendha, who only makes a brief appearance in the novel, goes through some inner conflict and suffers through some angst. Asha’man, The King of Malkier, Aes Sedai and more all go through some inner turmoil that has been prevalent throughout the series and continues in this book. I would say that even in the midst of all the battles that are fun to read, the inner conflict is just as entertaining and helps the story progress.
PROFANITY, VIOLENCE, AND SEXUAL CONTENT
Profanity in the story is a soft One, in that the profanity is English in nature and is unique to the characters and land they live in. Meaning that you can as a reader you can discern that they are using profanity, based on the scene and the sentence structure; however it uses words you normally don’t think of as profanity. Violence in the story is a Two, in that there are battle scenes and fighting with soldiers and others getting killed. The violence is within the context of the story and is not overdramatized or glorified for no apparent reason. There is no sexual violence in the story. The sexual content is also a soft One, in that one of the characters is pregnant and there is reference to who the father was. There is no sexuality portrayed in the story, but alluded to that something has happened (which did in previous books).
CHARACTERIZATION, PLOT, AND OVERALL RATING
I would rate the characterization in this novel as a Three, due to increased character development that has been lacking somewhat in previous books. Characters have already been established and have needed to progress, which happened in this book. There was an emotional bond that has been established throughout the past 12 books, and as described earlier with Perrin, I actually grew to like him once again. I would rate the plot as a Three as well. In this story, certain characters’ storylines, are moving forward and are coming together to combine with other characters’ storylines. Everything is starting to come together. I found the plot to be well developed and have great structure (which I give full credit to Brandon Sanderson). Overall I would give this novel a rating of Three. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested. The catch is that this is book thirteen of a fourteen book series. This book, along with TGS, has put the series back on track just in time for the last book of the series to deliver the final punch.