Book review: The Wheel of Time #13: Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson (Orbit, 2010)
The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One’s prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unravelling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to spill out of the Blight.
Perrin Aybara is haunted by spectres from his past. To prevail, he must find a way to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it for ever.
Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost.
The end draws near. It’s time to roll the dice.
WOW, DOES STUFF HAPPEN.
You can definitely tell the end is drawing near! While I complained about Perrin’s few chapters in The Gathering Storm, rest assured he gets to do something proper this time around, instead of just moping around brooding over what to do now that he no longer has to rescue his wife from the Shaido.
This review contains some spoilers, but I’ve tried to be fairly vague about who does what and how it turns out.
In fact, a lot of the plot revolves around him this time, and while Galad was missing from the previous novel as well, he’s back in this one. And turns out to not be a stuck-up snot after all. He also gets to meet his not-dead stepmum, and we can only hope the same goes for Gawyn before Tarmon Gai’don kicks off properly.
Speaking of Gawyn, he’s having issues getting Egwene to bond him. Meanwhile, assassins are trying to kill Egwene – now the rightful Amyrlin of the White Tower – but she can manage them perfectly well on her own, thank you. She also doesn’t like the visit she has from Rand, and what Rand is intending to do. If we go by the theory that Egwene is Latra Posae Decume reborn … the end result is not going to be pretty. It would fit very well with the cyclical theme, though …
Rand is busy being the Messiah, now that he’s done with the “very naughty boy” phase, so things could actually turn out well for the world in the end. I hope. I also hope that Aviendha’s visions about a possible future doesn’t come true, because that would suck, and I love the Aiel.
Things are starting to brew over at the Black Tower as well. Perhaps Mazrim Taim isn’t such a great man to put in charge, after all … But at least the White Tower is united again, and that’s something I’m more interested in reading about anyway.
Elayne is back again, still pregnant (guess they’re saving that for the final book?), and has a pissing contest with Mat about the cannons – sorry, “dragons” – Aludra wants the bellfounders to make. I’m beginning to think I don’t care much for Elayne, to be perfectly honest. Mat, on the other hand, finally manages to get to the Tower of Ghenjei, but what happens, you may Read And Find Out. If you’ve ever wondered if that Noal dude is actually the legendary Jain Farstrider … no, let me re-phrase that. If you weren’t already sure that Noal dude was in fact the legendary Jain Farstrider, because it wasn’t blatantly obvious from everything he ever said, you will get in black and white in this book.
If you’ve been comparing the Wheel of Time books to Norse mythology and wonder when a) Thor is going to get himself a proper hammer, and b) Odin is going to lose an eye, this is it. The hammer is named Mah’alleinir (“he who soars” in the Old Tongue), because it obviously needed to be called something very similar to Mjölnir for those who needed it spelled out to them. At this point, I had to groan, like when I found out Tuon was short for “Fortuona” in the previous book. My reaction to the warhammer’s name was pretty much “of course it is”. The forging and naming of the hammer was most likely from Robert Jordan’s own notes, so we can’t really complain.
Then again, there really is nothing to complain about. The pacing is quicker than normal, the chapters at least appear to be shorter (thanks, Sanderson!), which makes it easier for everyone who tends to say “I’ll just finish the chapter” in bed at night. Some chapters previously in the series have been very, very long. Not so here, so that’s great.
I’ve only mentioned a few things here, but there are a lot of very momentous things happening in this novel, that sets up the final novel beautifully. Maybe the Whitecloaks won’t be an issue after all, who knows? Are the darkfriends falling apart from the inside? Can the Final Battle actually possibly be won by the Dragon and the forces of good? Read And Find Out. The final book is out tomorrow, and I’m waiting for it with excitement as well as trepidation. It’s a long journey finally coming to an end, and those who have read it already say it’s EPIC.
Towers of Midnight perhaps isn’t epic, but the series is, and this penultimate instalment is a fitting near-ending. Well-written, eventful, exciting, amazing … So, so good.
5 out of 5 dice.