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Review: The Wheel of Time Book 13 – Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Where The Gatherin Storm was a studied read, methodically building up the storyline and the pace until the final climax, Towers of Midnight is a frenetic charge toward Tarmon Gai’don, and this could be seen as both a blessing and a curse for the novel.

I’m not doing to set the scene for you – if you are reading this review and don’t know what The Wheel of Time is, then too bad. :) I’m jumping in and offering you my opinion. And this review will have spoilers!!!

 

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First thing: The prologue was a real head-spinner for me. I alternated between amazement and shock while reading it, due to what happens.

Having Graendal escape Rand’s bailfiring of her hideaway was brilliant, I really did not see that coming, and the way she was written -with that edge of panic and utter fear- really held my attention.

The Borderland’s scene was as effective, if not more, than the Farmer’s scene in The Gathering Storm’s prologue – here we have the actual beginning of the Last Battle, and the way the characters were handled here was poignant and respectful; these men knew what they had to be about and knew what would happen to them.

Padan Fain’s section really made me happy – he is definitely one of the most terrible characters I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting and his scene stayed with me up to the end of the book. To be honest, I didn’t even think about why he didn’t reappear (or maybe he did, and I missed it, like I missed something else), because the rest of the book had gripped me utterly and completely, but now I’m wondering if he won’t burst into the spotlight again at Rand’s meeting with Egwene (which is sure to open A Memory of Light)…

Lan’s scene was the weakest, in my opinion; as soon as I read it I knew where it was going, and that made his denials more and more irritating. The man wants to travel into lost Malkier and take on the Shadow on his *own*? Dude, you can’t even channel! Anyway…

Rand’s chapters were absolutely incredible, even though they were few. He was, once again, my favourite character. Here we’ve got a guy -who has to save the damn universe- having gone through being reviled, feared, manipulated, wounded, contending with the crazy (and mostly irritating) women in his life, and practically losing his mind, passes through all these trials and becomes who he was meant to be – calm, self-assured, conscious of the mistakes he has made (Cadsuane), determined, and still able to feel love and gratitude. The scene with Egwene in the White Tower sent tsunamis of thrills down my spine – it’s never been more evident to me just how far Rand has come as a character than in that scene. Hell, I was thinking, “What the hell are you doing, are you insane?” and he goes and completely controls the situation, showing the Aes Sedai that he is the Dragon Reborn once and for all. I cheered and cheered and cheered when he walked out of there and kept on saying to myself, “Dude, you absolutely ROCK.” The rest of scenes were consistently awesome – taking charge, trying to give attention to what he had overlooked, moving towards his destiny. Sounds lame when I put it that way, I know, but this movement was never really apparent for me in the previous novels (say, from Winter’s Heart onwards). I’m going to be cheering him all the way to the blood on the rocks. :)

Egwene, on the other hand, irritated me as never before. It didn’t have anything to do with Brandon’s writing of her, though; she irritated me because a) of keeping Gawyn on a bloody string the whole time (seriously, WTF), and b) not trusting in the bloody Dragon Reborn to know what he’s doing. I did get chills when she (finally) bonded Gawyn, and I was very happy for them. :)

Gawn, Morgase, Galad: Galad was excellent, easily one of the best characters in the book – he went through more characterization in one book than in all the preceding novels and it didn’t seem rushed or forced to me at all. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t really give his threads much notice -fine, the dude sees everything in black and white, let’s move along already- but I really enjoyed him working through the evidence of Perrin’s crimes, having to deal with Bornhald and Byar (shaking my head at these two, that’s all I’ll give to them), and then coming to trust Perrin.

Gawyn and Morgase, on the other hand, irritate the living hell out of me. They are, without a doubt, two of the most selfish characters I’ve ever come across. Morgase is such a bad mother that she would rather be a serving woman than even try to get in contact with her children (and I’m sorry, the whole argument of “Elayn can’t have me interfering while she’s on the Lion Throne” is a load of crap. How many times did she even worry about her children? Not bloody enough. Bad, bad mother. Thinking more about being a cougar than letting her own children know that she’s alive. Gawyn… Fine. Thinking that someone killed my mother and then knowing that I’d have to put up with him because he has to save the universe is one thing; but always thinking about killing him? Did he not get the memo or something? Rand is the Dragon Reborn – your little worries just do not matter. Anyway, rant over. For now. (He’d better do something useful in A Memory of Light – or die falling down a toilet; either wouldn’t really matter to me).

Mat: he definitely was the old Mat we all love, so big kudos to Brandon there. The whole “I can look at her, only look, because I’m married now” thing got a bit old after a while, but Mat was joking, fearless, utterly without regard for what anyone thought, and downright fun. The ending of the gholam thread was cool (also, finally) and the movement towards the Tower of Gengei was great, although I have to admit that the actual rescuing of Moiraine was wayyy too anti-climactic for my tastes. Yes, it was awesome going back to the Snakes and the Foxes, and the (finally) reveal of Jain Farstrider was one of those awesome-soundtrack-in-the-background moments, but on the whole I think it was the weakest climax in the book. Having Moiraine back is going to be crazy-good for A Memory of Light, but her and Thom just falling into each other’s eyes (yes, I knew it was coming, how obvious it was) was just too damned quick. It was, without a doubt, one of the most unlikely love stories in the entire series and it was officially revealed so quickly that I was left wondering, “Are you serious?” We finally have Mat giving up ‘half the light of the world’, though, and that makes me think that if Moiraine dies before Rand opens the Bore, the world is stuffed no matter what Rand does. She is obviously incredibly central to sealing away the Dark One.

Now I come to what were my favourite threads in the novel: Perrin and Aviendha.

Aviendha gave us what I consider to be the most intense and thoughtful thread of the entire series. Not only did she actually begin to wonder what was left for the Aiel as a people, but she kicked tradition on its ass by taking the greatest risk any female channeler has ever taken by breaking the rules. The scenes of her living through Rand’s descendants was, in my opinion, utter and terrible brilliance. I never thought that we would get a glimpse of the future after the sealing of the Bore, and to get that glimpse while also meeting Rand’s (many) children… DAMNED COOL. She now has this massive weight, the weight of her entire nation, on her shoulders, and I absolutely cannot wait to see how she not only deals with her realizations through A Memory of Light, but does this fighting in the Last Battle. Definitely one of my most-anticipated threads for the final volume.

And then finally Perrin: Up to this book I couldn’t stand him. Many people think of Rand as the uber-Emo, but Perrin took that crown and cried over it long before Rand even vibrated in that direction. I’m re-reading the series (finished Lords of Chaos again not too long ago), and the march towards Malden may just be a thread that I will completely skip – that way I’ll not have to lurch through Perrin and Morgase again. BUT. In this book, Perrin was excellent. He finally goes up against Slayer (wonder what he’ll be doing in the Last Battle – methinks Lan will have a fine old time with him), embraces who he is, kicks ass in the Wolf Dream, and gives us the first (and incredible) forging-a-weapon-with-the-Power scene. I had gooseflesh that entire scene. And when I saw this cover I had gooseflesh all over again. Perrin became not only the best general (my opinion) in that world, but also one of my favourite characters again. RJ, Brandon, you redeemed him for me. THANK YOU. And not only was Perrin redeemed, he was also central to some of the best WoT scenes I’ve ever read – witnessing Rand on Dragonmount (I wouldn’t want to be there, at that time, even if I could channel), and (my absolute favourite scene ever) standing with Egwene and nullifying BALEFIRE. :)

So, while Towers of Midnight really and truly kicked ass because of the events throughout the book, it also (and here you might think I’m weird) sucked:

The pacing of the book was a bit off – way too much jumping around. Rodel’s thread needed to happen more often – taking as long as it did between scenes sucked away any interest I had in seeing one of the best generals in the world do his thing. I’ve mentioned the climax – I think Mat’s thread would have worked better if it ended before Perrin’s. And the mistakes – when Tam leaves Perrin, Perrin lets him even though he doesn’t know why; but later on, Perrin suddenly knows why Tam left. WTF? Also (and this is my biggest problem), did the copy editors not do their jobs? This book was absolutely riddled with typos – so much so that every mistake was like a blow to the head. Come on, people; you don’t slip up like this on what will prove to be one of the biggest titles in the history of fantasy. You just don’t. But you did. Please, no typos in A Memory of Light. That would be a crime of massive proportions. :(

My second-biggest problem – the (non) reveal of Asmodean’s killer. Come on. RJ and Brandon: you leave us wondering and hanging and waiting for the reveal and then stick it in the damned glossary?! Not cool. But surprising as hell, I’ll give you guys that.

All in all, Towers of Midnight was an excellent book, marred (but not excessively so) by pacing issues, the mistake regarding Tam, and a massive amount of typos. It brought some cool threads to a close, nicely paving the way for the final volume, and even began what will probably turn out to be some very cool threads that may just carry over until after the sealing of the Bore. Event-wise it’s the best Wheel of Time book I’ve read, that’s for sure. :) I’m gonna go ahead and say this – I think we can expect the same jumping around through events with A Memory of Light; and that scares me a bit. There’s just so much that still needs to happen, not even considering about Caemlyn being attacked. I do look forward to it, though, and will once again drop everything I’m reading to dive into it when it’s released. Towers of Midnight has left me in absolutely no doubt that the Last battle has started, Rand is ready to do what he was born to do, and that we’re in for one hell of a wild ride with A Memory of Light.

8 / 10

If you don’t yet have your copy, what the hell’s up with that? ;) Seriously, order your copies here for Amazon US and here for Amazon UK; those in South Africa can just click the link (the book’s cover) to the right and order from Exclusive Books. Head on over to Brandon’s site here, and don’t forget to check out the best Wheel of Time site on the internet – Dragonmount.

Tor.com have also created Wheel of Time-centric portals, run by Jennifer Liang; damned good person to be in charge of them. :-) Wheel of Time on Facebook; Wheel of Time on Twitter.

Be EPIC!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on January 20, 2011 in Reviews

 

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Discussing Wheel of Time and Brandon Sanderson on Zoopy TV

I’ve just found out that the vid doesn’t exist anymore. :( Sorry about that, folks.

 
6 Comments

Posted by on January 3, 2011 in Announcements

 

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Totally Tor: Twelve Days and Twelve Doctors!

Hey Everyone! :-)

The story I sneak-peeked for you in the last Totally Tor post, The Trains that Climb the Winter Tree, has gone live over at Tor.com, so go ahead and read the tale in its entirety – you know you want to… ;-)

And thanks to Irene Gallo, I’ve got some news for you about an awesome celebration of Dr Who – just click on the logo below to get all the details, and don’t forget to mark your calendars!

I’ll be winding down soon as we move towards the year; look out for a guest-review of Jasper Fforde‘s Shades of Grey and hopefully a final-2010 review of the Jordan-Sanderson epic, Towers of Midnight. :-)

Be EPIC!

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2010 in Totally Tor

 

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Book Trailers Galore!

Hey guys and girls, I thought I’d show you some of the cool book trailers I’ve had a chance to see – I’m sure you’ll forgive me for forcing you to use up some of your bandwidth, eh? ;-)


Read my review here.


Order from Amazon US and Amazon UK.


Pre-Order from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

And the biggie…

Pre-Order from Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Be EPIC!

 
3 Comments

Posted by on September 7, 2010 in Book Trailer

 

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Star Wars, Dark Tower & Wheel of Time News!

Man, what a day for news!

Let’s get right into it; first off, I’ll show you the cover to Sean William’s Star Wars: The Old Republic novel, Fatal Alliance:

Awesome, right? Check out the details for the novel at this post on the official site.

Sean is not only an awesome guy but knows what makes Star Wars so great and brings it in droves to the novels he writes in the Expanded Universe, so I’m definitely looking forward to this!

Next up, the long-awaited naming and cover-reveal of The Old Republic novel by Paul Kemp; I’ll let the cover do the talking! :-)

Awesome, right? :D And yes, that is the kickass Sith Lord who we saw in action in the cinematic of The Old Republic. :-) Check out the details of the novel at this post at the official site; if you want to have another look at the cinematic, check out this post at Paul’s blog, and here’s his announcement. :-)

Very, very chuffed for Paul that he got the chance to write a novel focusing on such a badass character! Here’s hoping that the story behind the cinematic is also included in the novel! :-) He’s already sent in the first draft of the novel, so everything looks a-okay for the December release date!

Paul’s Crosscurrent (reviewed here) showed that he has an awesome understanding of Star Wars, so this will, most probably, be awesome. :-)

Now for Wheel of Time news!

Check out this post over at A Dribble of Ink; Aidan gives us an extended blurb of Book Thirteen of The Wheel of Time, Towers of Midnight. If you haven’t read it yet, I’ll say this: Perrin and Mat.

:-)

And lastly, news of the Dark Tower movies!

Thanks to my buddy Lood, I can tell you that Ron Howard has been tapped to direct a trilogy that’ll bring Stephen King’s absolutely massive and brilliant series to the big screen. Just how he’s planning to cram 7 novels-worth of plot into three movies I have no idea, but this is Ron Howard, and I’m sure he’ll do movies that’ll be as true as possible to the King’s epic. :-) Check out the info here.

That’s it for now,

Have an awesome weekend!

Be EPIC!

P.S. Oh, and here’s something you all have been drooling for – the first pic of Thor. :-)

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 30, 2010 in Announcements

 

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Catch-Up (‘Cause I’ve been quiet for a bit)

So I took a bit of a break from the blog to finish watching the second season of Supernatural. :-) We finished it last night, and will probably start watching the 3rd season today, and I have to say that I’m impressed. I knew Sam was going to die and that Dean would do a deal at the crossroads to bring him back, but I didn’t know that their dad would put in an appearance! That was a goose-flesh moment if there ever was one! Very cool! And now that the Yellow-Eyed demon is dead it’ll be interesting to see what the brothers have got to face in the 3rd season, though with all the demons that were released (an awesome moment that took me back to Smallville and the release of the Phantoms from the Phantom Zone) I’m sure they’ll have their work cut out for them. :-)

We also watched the movie-adaptation of Jose Saramago’s Blindness on the weekend… The only thing that spoiled an otherwise excellent movie was the motivation of Julianne Moore’s character – being the only person who can see among hundreds who can’t, she decides that she’ll let herself (and the women who joined her) be subjected to rape for food. Huh?! Maybe someone can explain this to me, but putting myself in that position just wouldn’t be something I would want to do. You have such a huge advantage over everyone else, and you still want to go ahead and punish yourself like that? For what? Anyway. The rest of the movie was great, and I will recommend it, but I will also be reading the book at some time. :-)

I am now about 400 pages into Stephen King’s Under the Dome, and it’s incredible so far! :-) The King is definitely pulling out all the stops here, and I’ve been getting that same epic-vibe from Dome that I got from The Stand, even though The Stand was a cross-country kind of novel and Dome is set in one town. The characters are amazing, the events awesome (and terrifying), and it’s really shaping up to be a shit-your-pants ride. :-)

On to the Wheel of Time – I’m really digging the titles for Book 13 and 14! :-) Towers of Midnight is such an awesome penultimate-book-in-the-series title, don’t you think? I totally agree with those that have covered it so far that we might see a resolution to the Seanchan plot, though when you think about the outrigger novels that RJ had planned, maybe not. :-) But at least we can hope for Tuon and Rand to finally meet and cement the Seanchan as allies of Rand in The Last Battle. And the last book – A Memory of Light. Wonderful! :-) Thanks TOR, Harriet, Brandon! :-)

Now for a blogger-birthday: I completely missed Mark Chitty’s BDay! (Sorry Mark!) I hope you had an incredible day, got plenty of awesome books to read, and will have another incredible year! :-) All the best!

David will also be bringing me the entire first season of Legend of the Seeker today, so I’ll have a review of Season 1 for you soon. :-) I have to say, I’m not particularly looking forward to it, but since I am a fan of Terry Goodkind’d work, I’m sort of honour-bound to at least give it a go. (Wasn’t impressed with what I’ve seen so far, but I promise to be more optimistic!)

So, I’m also busybusybusy relocating the blog. :-) The launch will happen as soon as I’ve finished Under the Dome (that’ll be the first review), and I’ll make an announcement here with a link to the new blog. :-) This blog will still be around (as will all the posts on it), and David and I will still be the review-team, but I’ll be using this blog for my writing-stuff and any non-SFF stuff that I want to chat about. :-)
And I have to say, so far, Blogger is pretty cool.

What’ll I have coming up in the next few weeks? Well, hard to say. :-) I’m hoping to have finished All Yesterday’s Tomorrows, and then I’ll be really sinking in to Brent Weeks’ work. :-) I’m also itching to give Glenda Larke a go, and then get my re-read of Steven Erikson done so that I can read Dust of Dreams. I’m also hoping to get an ARC of The Other Lands (available to order now!), and then there’ll be a host of indie-published books that I’ll be reviewing (have to get those done!). Will everything work according to plan? Probably not! :-)

Anyway, that’s me for now – will be back with another post tomorrow. :-)

Be EPIC!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 22, 2009 in Announcements, Musings

 

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