First off, apologies for the late blog post. I was out yesterday, and was too tired to write one when I got home. I could have rushed writing out one last night just for the sake of keeping to my schedule, but I figured it would be better if I just left it a day late and write something I actually like. Also, I was only a few chapters away from finishing book thirteen of The Wheel of Time, so I decided to read the final few chapters this afternoon and make today’s blog post a book review.
I found that Towers of Midnight, the penultimate novel in Robert Jordan’s massive fantasy epic, had a decidedly different feel to the recent books. It reminded me of the earlier novels, harking back to the beginning of the series, when everything was fast-paced, and everyone was enthusiastic. I know that the novels that make up the middle of the series are important; they are when the bulk of many main storylines stem from, and where many key character developments occur. Even more than the beginning of the series, the middle of it sets up key events and alliances. It’s a valuable point in the series, but it can also make for less exciting reading. But with Towers of Midnight, I feel as though the series has come full circle, going back to a more fast paced, exciting plotline.
As is the case with any Wheel of Time novel, the book focuses on a selection of main characters to make up the bulk of it, and then uses other characters – both major and minor – to fill in the gaps. The thirteenth novel in the series links the journeys of four characters: Perrin Aybara to Egwene Al’Vere – who are linked by their ability to move among the world of dreams; the two friends from the Two Rivers never actually meet in the book, save for a fleeting moment during a battle in the dream world. And then we have Matrim Cauthon and Elayne Trakand, who are more directly tied together with the story surrounding the building of ‘dragons’.
The Ta’Veren: the influence and strength of Rand Al’Thor, Perrin Aybara and Matrim Cauthon continues to grow heavily.
Rand Al’Thor – The mood shift in Rand is astonishing; he is a completely new man following his torment on the slopes of Dragonmount. Refreshed and compassionate but determined to end it once and for all, he is now becoming exactly what I imagined the Dragon Reborn to be. I have to say, I am incredibly interested to see how the prophecies depicting him bowing to the Seanchan will play out. The more temperamental and violent Rand never would have submitted, but I can sort of see the new and improved Dragon doing it.
Mat – if you had said to me at the beginning of the series that Matrim Cauthon would become a firm favourite of mine, I would have regarded you with scepticism. I had a strong dislike of him at the beginning; if he had been a real person, he would have been one that I would avoid. Now, however, I am a changed woman. Mat’s growth as a character is the most shocking, and satisfying, for me. His storyline is intriguing, and has the added benefit of bringing some humour to an increasingly dark world. And his journey into the Tower of Ghenjei with Thom and Noal was a gripping end to the novel. He’s changed from the boy who runs away, to the man that is willing to sacrifice a lot to save others – even if he won’t admit it.
Perrin – the blacksmith turned reluctant lord showed the most ta’veren influence this time around. While Rand, and even Mat, had already understood that their ta’veren nature would draw others to them, Perrin is now only beginning to understand his influence in the world. His growing understanding of his place in the wolf dream and the Pattern, and his confrontation with Galad Damodred’s Whitecloaks, means that his story was the most action-packed one. I was worried at one point he was shifting into a darker sort of character, weighed down by responsibility, as Rand once was. But the gentle giant remains intact.
Egwene Al’Vere and Elayne Trakand – if there’s one thing Jordan never shied away from, it was strong, powerful female characters. Both the Amyrlin Seat and the Queen of Andor fit this bill, although Elayne does it with a bit more sassiness in her walk. At times Egwene annoyed me; power seems to have gone to her head in a way, and often her desire to appear strong and in control made her look stubborn. But she does deliver some brilliant dialogue.
Towers of Midnight continues on the theme of great writing from both Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. While it does remind me of earlier novels in the series, it has also shifted to something completely new. The series now hangs on the edge, and there are so many pathways the final book could take. Will Aviendha reveal what she saw in Rhuidean? How will the Seanchan’s plan to seize the White Tower work? And will Rand break the seals? As is the case with any book series I have enjoyed, I both cannot wait to get to the end, while simultaneously dreading the end of it all. It has been a great read so far, and I have the highest hopes for what is still to come.