Archive for The Wheel of Time

Towers of Midnight [-58]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , , on September 6, 2010 by xi'an

Now, I was quite surprised to see a trailer for a book, of all things! but here it is, 58 days before the publication of the 13th volume of The Wheel of Time.

After all, there was also one for The Name of the Wind..!

Towers of Midnight [-99]

Posted in Books with tags , , , , on July 25, 2010 by xi'an

The penultimate book in the shelf-olic series of The Wheel of Time is called Towers of Midnight and it is scheduled to be published on November 2, which makes it 99 days from today. Here is the planned U.S. cover, so much in line with the previous covers that I am now getting used to their ugliness and poor connection with the books. (Search the Web for an even uglier earlier version, where characters are suffering from the vanishing mid-body disease!) Still removing the cover when reading in the metro, of course! (On the other hand, a much more interesting series of covers have just been designed for the e-book versions of the fourteen books.) As for The Gathering Storm, the thirteenth book in the series is written by Brandon Sanderson, following the threads weaved by Robert Jordan. While the dust jacket entry is too dramatic for my taste,

The Last Battle has started. The seals on the Dark One’s prison are crumbling. The Pattern itself is unraveling, and the armies of the Shadow have begun to boil out of the Blight.

Dovie’andi se tovya sagain. It’s time to toss the dice.

The sun has begun to set upon the Third Age.

Perrin Aybara is now hunted by specters from his past: Whitecloaks, a slayer of wolves, and the responsibilities of leadership. All the while, an unseen foe is slowly pulling a noose tight around his neck. To prevail, he must seek answers in Tel’aran’rhiod and find a way–at long last–to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it forever.

Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The creatures beyond the stone gateways–the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn–have confused him, taunted him, and left him hanged, his memory stuffed with bits and pieces of other men’s lives. He had hoped that his last confrontation with them would be the end of it, but the Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. The time is coming when he will again have to dance with the Snakes and the Foxes, playing a game that cannot be won. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost.

This penultimate novel of Robert Jordan’s #1 New York Times bestselling series–the second of three based on materials he left behind when he died in 2007–brings dramatic and compelling developments to many threads in the Pattern. The end draws near.

I hope I will enjoy this one-before-last book as much as The Gathering Storm. Although Sanderson’s style is not particularly lively, he is nicely bringing the series to its conclusion without creating new threads that will justify a fifteenth or sixteenth volume!

The Gathering Storm

Posted in Books with tags , , , on December 29, 2009 by xi'an

“It was not the best way to approach problems. People were much more complex than a set of rules or numbers.” Brandon Sanderson, The Gathering Storm

Being away with no computer of my own, I spent most of yesterday reading the remainder of Brandon Sanderson’s The Gathering Storm. The book ties up as many plots as is possible to cram within 760 pages without turning incoherent and this change of pace from earlier volumes like Crossroads of Twilight makes it quite enjoyable! Among major characters, only Elayne Trakand does not make it into the book, which sees a lot of minor and some major enigmas explained (like Verin’s ambivalence throughout the whole series, through one of the most climactic pages of the whole series). I cannot distinguish the differences between Jordan’s and Sanderson’s styles well-enough to comment on it, but the new book does fit in the series, presumably because the skeleton was sketched by Robert Jordan before his death. (It seems to me however that The Gathering Storm contains more points of views than Jordan’s volumes. For instance, Tuon grows more depth thanks to those.)

“I don’t know the numbers but he claimed it would be days’ worth of work. And he said that his estimates were probably too optimistic.” Brandon Sanderson,, The Gathering Storm

The most successful subplot in The Gathering Storm certainly is the resolution of the White Tower split and the recognition of Egwene as their leader by both sides. This was predictable, of course, but the way the political maneuvering is presented is quite convincing (except maybe for the way Elaida is deposited). Rand’s part is only slightly less successful but the description of his progression towards madness and his estrangement from Min are both gripping. His move towards a grey zone between good and evil where the destruction of The Dark One starts justifying anything is quite successfully told and while it infuses unease in the reader’s connection with Rand, it also gives him much more depth. The meeting with Rand’s father and the final chapter where he shakes off some of this madness are major stepping stones  in the story. Tuon’s resistance to Rand’s pull also comes as a surprising twist in the overall plot and, while it creates an opening for yet other sub-stories, like the Seanchan’s attack on Tar Valon, it overall makes sense that the two major players cannot agree to be led by one of them. Mat’s meandering through Murandy is definitely a minor story and a lot of details are repetitive of earlier volumes, while Perrin’s indecision takes a while to vanish. The most incomprehensible part is Lan’s, who seems to be taking months to march to his death… The complete disappearance of the Whitecloacks from the political and military scenes is unexplained, as is the absence of Morgase who could as well be dead.

Gathering Storm: the prologue

Posted in Books with tags , , , on December 23, 2009 by xi'an

Taking advantage of my trip to London, I bought Brandon Saunderson’s The Gathering Storm—with a 40% rebate from a Border store closing out!—and read the Prologue on my way back to Paris. This prologue was long enough for Tor, Jordan‘s publisher, to put it on sale a few weeks before the book came out (!). As usual, the Prologue is made of snapshots of what is happening or is going to happen. As the 12th occurrence of the genre, it obviously is less appealing than the first one but I still find it a clever way to enter the book. I was first annoyed by the initial story where farm people leaving their previous life for good and for war find the time and motivation to discuss with their neighbours of mundane things like where they stored a particular dish for someone else to pick (!) but the following stories are involving more major actors. And not mentioning dress details or shopping list! (I am now in Chapter 2 and the useless descriptions have indeed started!!!) The part involving (yet again) a meeting of the Forsakens is somehow repetitive of earlier meetings but this has always been a weak aspect of the Series. With the exception of Lanfear, Robert Jordan never managed to describe those super-evil baddies and their points of view in a convincing manner: their worries and perspectives are regrettably mundane and short-sighted… Anyway, there is life and action in this Prologue with a major character most unexpectedly but well-deservedly disappearing from the cast.

The Gathering Storm (a review)

Posted in Books with tags , , , on August 28, 2009 by xi'an

Although it had been posted for about a month, I only came across a review of The Gathering Storm this afternoon. This is the first volume in the Brandon Saunderson’s planned trilogy, supposed to end the Wheel of Time monumental series… (See this post for a fairly interesting if partial analysis of Jordan’s style.) The interesting point is that the review is published before the book appears on October 27! Unfortunately, it is quite limited in the informations it gives about the plot, while being vaguely reassuring about the continuity with Robert Jordan’s style and purpose. (The cover may be one of the worsts in the series, by the way.)

The mistborn trilogy

Posted in Books with tags , , , on July 26, 2009 by xi'an

“It’s like the chaos of normal random statistics has broken down (…) A population should never react this precisely—there should be a curve of probability, with smaller populations reflecting the expected percentages less accurately.” The Hero of Ages

Last night, I finished the third volume of Brandon Saunderson‘s Mistborn trilogy, The Hero of Ages. While I read the first volume, Mistborn: The Final Empire, with pleasure and excitement, and enjoyed the second volume, The Well of Ascension, I went through this last volume at a miserable pace, slowed down by boredom and disillusion, often reading nothing but a single page before falling asleep! Following another disappointing read of Elantris, this does not abide well for the incoming completion of The Wheel of Time.

“These numbers are just too regular to be natural. Nature works in organized chaos—randomness on the small scale, with trends on the large scale.” The Hero of Ages

Indeed, while both Mistborn and Elantris managed to create innovative universes and compelling characters (Mistborn more than Elantris), they both suffer from superficial plots and disappointing endings. Mistborn creates an interesting connection between metals and magical abilities, some magicians named mistings being able to use a single metal and others, named mistborns, being able to use all sixteen of them, and the different races (humans, terrismen, mistwraiths, koloss, kandras) introduced in the first book are well-designed (even though ska is a denomination also used in Jack Vance’s Lyonesse trilogy). The initial band of rebels found in Mistborn: The Final Empire is nicely balanced between characters and the teenage ska hero Vin is psychologically deep enough to be a central character, as is the rebellious son and future emperor, Elend Venture. The plot in The Well of Ascension starts deteriorating, with the predicted (and rather predictable) fight between father—reminding me of the Lannister father in George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire unfinished series—and son and a more interesting competition between Elend Venture and his mad half-brother for Vin’s love. This volume sees the appearance of the evil entity Ruin, released by a misled Vin, that will dominate the final volume. Both first volumes contain interesting reflections and subplots about political and religious aspects, not that deep—in that enlightened dictatorship always seems better than democracy, especially during crises—but nonetheless interesting, which is a relief for the completion of The Wheel of Time, where political maneuvering is a strong part of the plot. But the relation between Vin and Elend remains at a fairly superficial level and the lack of moral qualms in Vin for using her superpower to massacre entire armies unsettling.

The scribes didn’t have a large enough set from which to determine patterns. “This seems completely random.” The Hero of Ages

The final volume, The Hero of Ages, contains the resolution of the series and brings a complete explanation about the structure of the Mistborn universe, including the true nature of the kandras, the koloss and the Steel inquisitors. But it is done in such a pedestrian way that it is downright boring. The quest of Vin and Elend for the final cache of the special atium metal is unconvincing, the fights and battles are repetitive of earlier ones and the characters have lost all depth. The evil entity turns up having a benign double and the pantheon of the Mistborn universe ends up being of the Ying/Yang variety! The ending is appaling: both central characters Vin and Elend die and everything is set right, from stopping volcanoes to changing the orbit of the planet, to re-creating flowers by a single historian of religions… Disappointing to say the least! (I have added the quotes to indicate that the books contain interesting scientific undercurrents, trying (too much?) to explain the magic, not because those quotes are particularly deep!)

Three more volumes?!

Posted in Books with tags , , , on April 1, 2009 by xi'an

“…somehow it seems fitting that what began as a trilogy will also end as one.”

For those still interested in the Wheel of Time endless sequence of novels, Tor Publishing just announced that the “last” volume of the series would actually be made of three, yes three!, more volumes. The quote above is also from Tor and is just hilarious!!! This is in fact a pentadecalogy, maybe the first of the kind. (Or an hexadecalogy when including New Spring as the first volume.) Judging from the reactions from the Wheel of Time fandom, fans are only mildly surprised at the news, given that Brandon Sanderson, the writer of the “last” volume, had already warned about having too much material for a single volume… Given the addiction of fans to the series, some of whom have started reading it more than twenty years ago, it may even be that they mostly welcome the news that the series was not to end soon, because they feel part of a World that keeps evolving after the death of its creator… Eerie!