Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Wheel of Time reread: "Towers of Midnight" by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

So, after more than four months of rereading, I am finally done with my "The Wheel of Time" reread. I don't usually write my post immediately after reading the book, and instead I wait for some free time, but this time I wanted to do it right, and do it cleanly. So, after this I can start "A Memory of Light" unencumbered with any unfinished business.

"Towers of Midnight" is a penultimate book of "The Wheel of Time" series, and as such is really preparing us for the final blast and Tarmon Gai'don. Rand has finally found balance with the Dragon Reborn, and now is fixing loose ends and past mistakes before he starts the Last Battle (which is exactly a day away at the end of the book). You could say that he is "cleaning the rubble". Perrin wasn't "lucky" as Rand, so he is still searching for his peace with the wolf and leader inside him - and at the same time he has to take care for tens of thousands of people, sue for peace with the Whitecloaks, and avoid traps set by Forsaken. Mat had his balance since beginning, but that doesn't mean that he is without problems: gholam is after him still, and now very close. And before he finds a solution for it (the invulnerable creature immune to the One Power), he cannon go on quest to find Moiraine and save her from snake and foxes. The White Tower is now joined behind Egwene, but she still has a problem with a hundred or so Black Sister and a Forsaken hiding in the Tower. Elayne has also consolidated her rule, but after Andor there are another two big bites for her: the rebellious Two Rivers and chaotic Cairhien.

Except the five of them, a bunch of other characters get their time in this book. There are much more changes between POVs (even more than in "The Gathering Storm"), even throughout chapters - which makes a faster pace. I would say that maybe there is a bit too much happening in this book. But I presume they (Jordan and Sanderson) had a lot to add in last two books. So clarify my statement, there are two pictures from a site Encyclopaedia WoT, which has a very detailed recaps of chapters from WoT. I use it sometimes when I am not sure about some details (like, how many chapters Mat had in a book). First picture shows the structure of chapters vs. character's POVs in "The Fires of Heaven", while the second one shows the same for "Towers of Midnight". You will notice how more complex ToM is...

I really like the first POV by Lan - it is very honorable and epic, but also funny at the same time. I like even more the first chapter with the new Rand, especially when you compare him to Rand in TGS. And even more I like the second chapter with him, when he finally meets Egwene (after some seven or eight books) as Amrylin Seat. I was a bit unsympathetic toward her because of her opinion that Rand has to be "handled" and "contained", but Rand really blows her mind this time. And not just her...

This book is very much about meetings after a long time: Mat and Elayne, Perrin and Elayne, Mat and Perrin, Elayne and Galad, Galad and Morgase, Morgase and Elayne, Gawyn and Elayne, Gawyn and Morgase, Moiraine and Mat (and Thom), Rand and Egwene, Egwene and Nyneve and Elayne, Rand and Tam (for real), Aviendha and Three-Fold Land, Rand and Almen Bunt (after twelve books!!)... There are two really great scenes: Mat's letter to Elayne (I got a really good laugh there) and Perrin "easing the badger" that Mat caught (there is a tavern called "Easing the Badger" in "The Dragon Reborn" where Perrin wonders where the name comes from - things really go in circles in these books).

This is the first time that book takes different time-frames and that plotlines are displaced in time. We had a case or two when when book started at the time before ending of last one, but nothing like this one.

After the debacle with Mat in last book, Sanderson got him right this time, right to the point. There is only one thing that really bothered me: the "confession" between Thom and Moiraine. OK, it was announced in last books, but it nevertheless sounded forced and fake. Although the blame cannot be put wholly on Sanderson... The part with snakes and foxes was done great and it justified the hype about it.

There are several very intense action scenes with Perrin here. I think that Sanderson did better job with him than even Jordan had. You could say that Perrin is the most outstanding main character in this book. It is very funny when Perrin patronizes Egwene in World of Dreams (not that I have anything against her).

There are several great POVs with Rodel Ituralde. I dont' know why I like this guy so much, but I really do. But the crowning moment is when Rand saves them - this was really something.

I can say this without any reservations: "Towers of Midnight" is a really glorious book. So much more positive and funnier book (especially after "The Gathering Storm"), it is much focused on finishing the various (and numerous) plotlines. It contains so much good scenes that I could say it is one of my favorite books in series.

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