Towers of Midnight, Book 13 of the Wheel of Time Spoiler Free Review
Towers of Midnight is the 13th and second last book of the epic New York Times best selling fantasy series, The Wheel of Time. This is the second book in the series authored by Brandon Sanderson, using the extensive notes and resources left by Robert Jordan before his death in 2007. Mr Sanderson has done a terrific job in taking the world and plot progression left to him by Mr Jordan and subtly added his own take on events to help bring to conclusion the greatest epic fantasy series since Tolkien.
Spoiler Free Plot and Storyline
Since the Robert Jordan written Knife of Dreams, the plotlines of The Wheel of Time have had a greater sense of urgency, in reflection of a world rapidly descending into destruction and chaos as the Last Battle between the forces of light lead by The Dragon Reborn and Dark One and his forces of the shadow rapidly approaches. This is further enforced in Towers of Midnight, which as the penultimate book of the series busily ties up loose story line ends and begins the process of finally gathering the main characters together in preparation for the final battle.
The book has 5 main plot lines, all of which are described from multiple character points of view (POV). The quest of Rand to unite the countries and come to peace with himself and his destiny continues, though without quite the focus as in book 12, The Gathering Storm. Matt and Perrin continue their respective quests, preparing themselves and their armies for the last battle. Egwene continues to try and solidify the White Tower and Elayne prepares Andor, tying up plotlines some of which have been open since The Great Hunt. A major criticism of some of the later books has been a lack of important events happening, with a feeling that the series has been drifting from one book to the next. That is not the feeling with Towers of Midnight, it is an action packed book with a logical progression but with more than its fair share of surprises. But stuff happens as the characters focus on what is important in the lead up to the battle to save humanity, giving the series much needed focus and making for a much more satisfying read.
Amount of Focus On The Main Characters
The focus of the books is certainly on Perrin, Matt and Elayne, with Rand and Egwene receiving significant attention with their respective plot lines. It felt like Towers of Midnight had more minor character POV's than any of the other books in the series, but few of those were of characters outside of the main story arcs. Instead, these POV's were of minor characters watching events happening to the major characters and their thoughts on these matters. The plotline finally had several of the major characters storylines meeting, with characters talking to other major characters for the first time in 5 or 6 books. I particularly enjoyed how Rand was portrayed through this book though I felt there was too much focus on Elayne and that her arc did not deserve the level of attention received in this book.
Towers of Midnight Writing Style
It is impossible to tell exactly what has been written by Mr Jordan and what has been written by Mr Sanderson but the writing of this book does differ from the first 11 books written by Mr Jordan and even to the previous book written by Mr Sanderson. It's not that the new style is terrible, it is just different. In an effort to make the book feel more chaotic to reflect the state of the world depicting in the book, chapters are generally much shorter and most chapters switch between multiple POV's which has a pronounced jarring effect on the reader. I feel that this has been a deliberate decision to try and give the reader a small taste of what it must feel like living in a world where reality itself is unwinding and chaos rules the day.
Setup For Book 14, A Memory Of Light
Until the final book is published in November 2012, it is impossible to accurately determine how well this book has set up the finish to this series that has had a rabid following for over 20 years. I feel that the book has certainly set in motion the events to be covered in the final book, though it didn't cover and finish as many plot lines as I had hoped. With so much still needing to happen in the final book, it is a real worry that major plotlines that have been built over a significant number of books will not be adequately addressed.
Does Asmodean's Killer Finally Get Named?
Yes, 7 books after Asmodean was killed at the end of The Lord Of Chaos, the book strongly hints at who killed Asmodean and then in the glossary it explicitly states who the murder is, finally bringing to a close one of the longest running "Who Done It" chapters in fantasy history. Being a spoiler free review, I will leave the who to the Robert Jordan classic RAFO (read and find out)
Not only is Towers of Midnight a worthy book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, the plot is one of the most gripping and engaging to date. If you have not read the later books due to the seeming lack of progress through books 7 to 10 and the fact a new author has had to be commissioned due to Mr Jordan's unfortunate death, fear not. Brandon Sanderson under the guidance of Mr Jordon's wife and editor, Harriet has done a terrific job of taking Mr Jordan's notes, plotlines and worlds and continued the vision and story that Mr Jordan spent most of his life crafting. Now is the time to re-read the series, especially Towers of Midnight in preparation to the conclusion of the series.
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