November 15, 2010

Review: Towers of Midnight

I finished reading Book 13 of the Wheel of Time series on Saturday, Nov 6 - but I've delayed reviewing it because I had to go back and re-digest some parts of it before coming to you.

For my background with the series, you can read my review of The Gathering Storm.
For the first time, I went back and reread the series. All of it. I knew ToM was coming out in November, so in March of this year, I started back over with The Eye of the World and read them all, including A New Spring (the prequel) between books 4 & 5. When I read The Gathering Storm for the first time, I had to go back a lot - trying to refresh who characters were and why they were important... and I didn't want to have to do that again. I found something fairly unique - the Wheel of Time series gets better when reading a second time. In my first go through, I was often frustrated by the slowness of the plot (books 5-7), how it kept opening up new plotlines when they should be closing off to help the series come to a conclusion (books 4-9), just how little actually happens in the book (book 10), or most of all - how frustratingly long it would take the author to come out with the next book! In my second time through, I was able to enjoy a lot more of the fore-shadowing that was going on and really felt none of the frustrations from the first time through.

So how did Towers of Midnight stack up: Was it as good as The Gathering Storm? Did in bring up any of those old frustrations?
The answer to both, is Yes.

That may be puzzling, but let me give you a bit of a background on the book. Robert Jordan originally planned for there to only be one more book: A Memory of Light. But when Brandon Sanderson got into it, he quickly realized that AMoL would be a 2000+ page behemoth, and at Tor and Jordan's widow's behest, he split it into three books.
The problem: there isn't really a place to split the book into thirds. There is what-happens-before-Tarmon-Gaiden and Tarmon-Gaidon (the Last Battle). Sanderson chose to focus on Rand and Egwene's stories in TGS, and in ToM he focuses on Matt and Perrin's arcs.
It can get a tad confusing, because it still jumps some to Rand & Egwene's stories, which are happening after the events of TGS - but then when it's back to Perrin, the timeline is back during the events of TGS.

Perrin comes off as the real hero of this book. He finally stops his internal whining and gets his. His storyline is engaging, has drama, sorrow, victory, and you can almost feel his ta'veren pull on you through the pages.
Matt's story... was okay. It left me wanting more. In TGS, some people complained that Sanderson didn't get Matt's "voice." In ToM, it feels more like Matt, but his story doesn't feel as compelling to me. Even the main event that's detailed in the cover art seemed as an afterthought.

My biggest complaint about the book really shouldn't be a complaint, but I can't help it: Sanderson draws the bow, knocking the arrow closely to the cheek - and when it flies, Tarmon Gaidon happens. That arrow gets drawn so tightly, the tension for the battle about to come so palpable... and then the book ends. Yes, I realize that means AMoL is going to start with a bang, but that also means I have to wait the fifteen months until it is out. Fifteen months of that internal tension... sigh.


  1. I liked it and was indeed glad Matt was 'fixed.' I agree with you on the point in the timeline flipping back and forth being rather annoying but it wasn't too distracting.

    I preferred Matt's bit, particulary the Tower part at the end (which was apparently fully written by Jordan; take that as you will) but also agree re: Perrin's arc. It was good to finally see him pick up the mantle he's been avoiding so long.

    Overall I thought this was better than TGS and probably one of my more favorite books to read.

    Now the wait until the end...

    And I cannot believe you've only re-read the series once! Blasphemy :P.

  2. I'll reread it again as a primer for when AMoL comes out in March of 2012.

  3. Dam I don't want to wait for 2012 for the next book, what if the world where to end lol. But Seriously I want that next book much sooner.