WoT 13: Towers of Midnight Review

Posted: January 26, 2011 in books, review
Tags: , , , ,

I’ll try to make this as spoiler-free as I can, but there is so much awesomeness in this book that I want to share that may unfortunately be spoilers for some. Nevertheless, I have to put these emotions on to paper, or else I’ll never be fully satisfied.

The penultimate installment on the Wheel of Time series bestows a huge amount of responsibility on Brandon Sanderson’s shoulders. We don’t know how much of the book had been written before Robert Jordan passed away, but it’s likely Jordan was more interested in getting the beginning and the ending done than trying to pull off the middle part. As it stands, the novel tries to tie in many of the plot threads that have been plagueing the series since book 6 due to the need of getting too many things done, slowing down the series considerably. Sanderson manages to minimize the damage, though not without some shortcomings.

After passing through an intro that introduces yet another bunch of plot lines to cover before the series is over, we are faced with the post-12th-book Rand, who is, when tried to put into words, bloody awesometastic. Yes, that’s the closest I could come to describe the new Rand. That is the guy we have been waiting for the past 20 something years. And he’s barely in the book.

OK, I assume we can cut some slack on Sanderson, since after 12th book there isn’t any need for character growth for Rand until the end. It’s just a showcase of his personality now that he is ready to rock the Dark One out of the world. Every time he appears, he is there to show his awesome and solve the backlog of problems he has unleashed unto the world. I like that in a book, where his actions do lead to some worse consequences. Could’ve been handled better, but with the amount of screentime he’ll probably be getting in the last book, it can be excused. Practical solutions work best when you have only a month to re-unite the world. There’s much more character development to be had on Perrin’s and other characters’ side.

Speaking of character development, there is a lot to be had in Perrin’s side in this book. He should’ve been out of his wimpy “I’m no lord” self long time ago, but hey, at least he accepts it in the end. The whole Two Rivers bit with Elayne was solved rather easily for Wheel of Time standards, but at least gave me satisfaction in the way it was solved. I simply wish there wasn’t this much Perrin in the book. Going straight into his transformation to a more confident guy would’ve been enough. And it would save us from reading all those things again. It was good to see Elayne getting her ass handed to her, while Mat finally (hopefully?) got rid of that gholam, in a rather anticlimactic way. Egwene also gets her ass handed to her by Perrin and Rand, though she does get rid of a Forsaken.

What differs most from the previous installment of the series is the lighter tone of this book. After Rand’s emotional turmoil in the last book, there are many relaxing moments in this book, reminiscing for the last time before the Last Battle comes. Reunion of Mat, Perrin and Thom manages to be a pleasant change of pace. And also, badger.

Overall, the book does what it aims to do: tie off enough plot threads to keep the last book from becoming a 2500-pager. The execution is a bit iffy at times, but I still love Sanderson’s writing style, and he does justice to Robert Jordan’s legacy. Finally, after years of build up, the end is within sight. Despite its shortcomings, it is easily one of the best fantasy titles of 2010. A must read continuation to a must read series.

And again, badger.

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