Towers of Midnight is the penultimate novel in the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson.
The Last Battle has begun and the seals on the Dark One's prison continue to crumble to dust. The very pattern itself is unravelling and the armies of the Shadow are boldly moving out of the Blight. Perrin continues to be haunted by his past and unless he finds a way to master the wolf within he will lose himself forever. Meanwhile the Tower of Ghenjei awaits Matrim Cauthon and revealing it's secrets will prove to be the most difficult challenge of his life. The end draws near.
It's time to roll the dice.
Reading this novel is in many ways like meeting up with old friends, after 12 books and over 9500 pages you know the major characters quite well and approaching this penultimate volume in Jordan's epic journey for me held a certain sense of reverence. I've had the book sitting on my shelf since Christmas however it is only now i've finally managed to find the time to read such an epic volume.
While Brandon Sanderson's style of writing and general influence suffuse the pages, his style is not too dissimiliar to that of Jordan and to me he has done an incredible job of continuing the Wheel of Time series, he has managed the almost impossible task once again of building on one of the greatest epic fantasy series. Both The Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight are pure Wheel of Time and to me this is one of the best novels so far, with tight dialog and an energetic pace.
Perrin and Matt take center stage here and each get a large chunk of the book to further their individual goals, with Perrin this means finally coming to terms with being a leader and learning to fight in the dream world without losing his human identity and this journey marks one of the highlights of the book. For Matt it's figuring out just how he can achieve his impossible goal and face once again the foxes and the snakes, with a number of miss-adventures and pure Matt humour along the way.
The other characters all do get some screen time though, especially the new Amyrlin Seat and the new Queen of Andor. After the chaotic struggles in The Gathering Storm, Rand is largely absent and much changed - preparing for the final showdown he has found a balance between holding onto his individuality while still being the Dragon Reborn. Signs of Tarmon Gai'don are everywhere and even though there are only a few big battles there is plenty of action and for a 800+ page book the pace is pretty fast.
This novel moves the plot forward more than any other in the series and a number of the sub-plots are brought to conclusion, some of which appeared to be going on a little too long (like the Gholam thing with Matt). A few characters that have been absent for some time make a welcome return and everywhere you look you can tell that the reader is being prepared for the big fight.
Throughout the book there is a pervasive sense of potential doom and signs are everywhere of a world on the brink of destruction. The prose is written in a clear voice with an effortless sense of style and the characterisation for each of the myriad personalities is spot on (including Matt).
As the final chapters draw to a close we finally get to see some of the events we have been waiting many years to see, and yes it is worth the wait with a really strong, nail-biting finale. Now we just have to wait with baited breath for the final novel, the end of the 20 year saga - A Memory of Light.
Written on Sunday 22nd May 2011 by Antony.
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