Towers of Midnight
The X’mas break was a welcomed opportunity to read a fair chunk of Brandon Sanderson‘s Towers of Midnight. I completed reading the book by last week. The penultimate volume in the Wheel of Time series is fulfilling its promises in that it offers a broad picture of the state of the countries and of the convergence of the characters just before the Last Battle. (The following is clearly of limited interest for those who have not read the series of the Wheel of Time and a source of spoilers for those who have not yet read this final volume.)
It is sometimes dizzying to follow that many threads at once but the conclusion of many open stories that had been going on for ages/volumes is very satisfying: to mention a few, the resolving of the Faile/Berelain fight about Perrin, the conclusion Perrin’s pursuit by the Children of the Light, the ending of Morgase’s incognito and her reunification with Elayne, the meeting of Egwene and Rand, Matt and Perrin, Elayne and Matt, the return of Moraine, the bonding of Gawyn by Egwene, the uncovering of many Black Ajah sisters, the raising of the Golden Crane, the surrealistic fight of Gawyn with the three Bloodknifes. I particularly liked the coming-of-age of Perrin, i.e., the termination of the self-questionning plaguing the latter volumes, with the conclusion of the Berelain cat-and-mouse game. The romantic relation between Galad and Berelain is however rather difficult to believe, maybe because it is conducted so rapidly. The changes in Rand are also dramatic from the self-destructive character depicted in the previous volume to a mature leader. Some transition explaining the 180 degree flip would have been in order, especially because I am not sure we get Rand’s point of view at any time. One of the most impressive chapters is the trip forward in time of Aviendha in Rhuidean, because it brings a true measure of surprise and of perspective as an alternative history of the Wheel of Time universe (I did not get the point of Nakomi’s preliminary dialogue, though!, with such an unknown character [Verin?!] popping out from nowhere for a philosophical dialogue). Again, the pace of the book is relentlessly bringing stories and characters towards the final volume and the Last Battle, which is both enjoyable from the perspective of the twenty years since I began the series! and slightly detrimental to the style of the writing (although this avoids endless descriptions, bickerings and competitions for power, as well as some if not all ludicrous self-justifications of Matt’s views on women). The Seanchans are pretty much left aside in this volume, despite their continuing invasion, except for the information that Elaida gave them access to Travelling!, and we hardly see Rand (and Min) in most of the book, apart from the fact that Rand plans to break the remaining Seals…
1. “I totally cannot decide whether to be pleased about this, or kind of freaked out.” This relates to what she funnily called the “Jesusing of Rand”, my feelings as well.
2. “Okay, that may or may not have been quite a Crowning Moment of Awesome for _____, exactly, but that is unquestionably one of the coolest things that has ever happened in this series.” This is when “Perrin and Neald forge the first new Power-wrought weapon in three thousand years”, namely a war-hammer. It was a nice and well-thought scene, especially given the tension between axe and hammer throughout the series, but the “coolest”?! Still deserves the top ten. (The picture above is the cover of the e-book focussing on this moment.)
3. “Is it possible to have a complete seal-clapping moment of YAY, and shriek in utter fannish outrage at the same time? Because I have a feeling I’m about to find out.” Indeed, indeed, “the return of Moiraine is hard to beat”! Especially when Mat tricked foxes and snakes.
5. “Well, finally, I have only been asking for this for like fifteen years. This is awesome. This is—wait. Uh, what’s going on… what are they… what does that… oh crap.” “Slice O’ Life segment on the Black Tower” but this is more unsatisfactory than anything else, because of the obvious lack of proper attention by Rand about this matter.
6. “Man, it’s like a Barry White song up in here, except hilarious.” The “scene where Galad and Berelain meet for the first time” has obvisouly been planned a long while ahead (most likely by Robert Jordan) as it solves many issues at once! As written above, it could have been done a bit more subtly!
7. “Wow, and just when I thought it wasn’t possible to despise you more. Nice job RUINING EVERYTHING, ____. Gah.” This is about Elaida, now a Seanchan captive, showing Tuon the trick for Traveling, thus bringing a new twist in the story, besides the potential for a Seanchan annihilation of the White Tower, also alluded to in Aviendha’s trip to Rhuiedan.
8. “Oh. Er. So, I totally called that wrong. Am a bit red-faced now.” It does not seem such an important item, namely Leigh’s “assumption that the Bloodknives” had all died in the battle.
9. “Okay, so maybe—maybe—you have redeemed yourself a little bit here, ____.” Same issue, Gawyn impossibly saving Egwene from the Bloodknives. Good thing but not major! Except for the Bonding aspect.
10. “I think this is what they mean when they use the term ‘logical extreme’. About time, really.” The multiple thread battle-scene in Tel’aran’rhiod is quite impressive indeed, between Perrin playing on the dream being nothing but a dream except…, and Egwene overcoming a Forsaken by another logical trick.Very well-done!