Friday, March 4, 2011
The end nears
I'll keep this review of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Towers of Midnight (Book 13 of The Wheel of Time) brief, because- if one thinks about it- there are a limited amount of people who will likely find it very useful. After all, if you've already read the previous twelve books in this series (the first 11 books written by the late Robert Jordan, with the last three being completed by Brandon Sanderson from Mr. Jordan's notes and outlines), you're probably going to read this one, and the concluding volume in 2012, no matter what people say. Conversely, if you haven't read any of the books yet, you'll most likely be interested in reviews of the first book or two, not discussions about an entry this close to the end.
So, I'll just file my (generally approving) thoughts and move on. Towers of Midnight is a fine, entertaining entry in the series, feeling a little more like a Jordan-penned installment than the last volume, mainly due to a slight return to the spotlighting of secondary characters and secondary plotlines. I didn't mind this, as part of the charm of the series has always been its high level of detail about characters and situations far out of the scope of the main plotlines, creating an immersive reading experience. Thankfully, though, Brandon Sanderson doesn't go "full Jordan" and emphasize downright obscure characters going on and on about downright obscure situations, a frequent Jordan indulgence that readers had to bear under, even those of us who generally enjoy the series' deep level of detail.
However, despite the richer array of characters and situations on display this time, the general emphasis is still on the main characters of Rand, Perrin, Matt, Egwene, and Elayne, all of whom are involved in entertaining set pieces high on action and/or intrigue. I particularly enjoyed the high level of satisfying (though not always completely happy) resolution to several plotlines during these scenes and set-pieces, which clears the way for the last book to emphasize the long-awaited final battle with the Dark One.
A small warning: there is a bit of timeline gymnastics going on this time out, but things shouldn't be too confusing. Just remember that Perrin's chapters take place weeks, and possibly months, before Rand's chapters, and you'll be fine. If you remember, Rand's father Tam helped Rand let go of his growing coldness and hate during the closing of the previous book, The Gathering Storm, but here we see Tam keeping company with Perrin and his followers during the weeks or months prior to that pivotal development. In any event, the timelines pretty much are all caught up with each other (well, mostly) by the end of this volume.
In the end, Towers of Midnight was a great read, but then again I've never been hard on this series, even enjoying the latter Jordan-penned volumes that many other fans felt moved too slowly. But, if you were a critic of the recent Jordan entries, you should definitely enjoy this book, as, for whatever reason (the new writer, the fact that the story was nearing its conclusion anyway, or a combination of both) lots happens, lots is resolved, and things are moving!
So, I guess that's it for my (alas, not so brief) thoughts. There's nothing left to say but bring on the last book! Is it 2012 yet?
Towers of Midnight is available on Kindle for $12.99, or as an unabridged audio download (the way I experienced this volume) from Audible.com. Audible's prices depend on your particular purchasing plan.