Towers of Midnight
By Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Since Brandon Sanderson started writing the Wheel of Time series after Robert Jordan’s death in 2006, the books have become increasing fast-paced. Whether it’s the change in writer or the fact that the series is approaching its end, the “wheel” is spinning much faster now.
Towers of Midnight is a bit slower than the previous entry in the series, The Gathering Storm, though emphasis is still placed on the urgency of the plot. Unfortunately, while Sanderson effectively mimics Jordan’s descriptive writing style, he is still unable to mimic the depth of some of the characters and the dialogue.
In this edition, Rand Al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn and main character of the series, returns from destroying Choedan Kal, a weapon. He finds that he must convince everyone to follow a suicidal plan to stop Tarmon Gaidon, an inevitable apocalypse marking the end of an age. Rand is largely absent from the plot in this book. Unfortunately, in the few chapters where he is present, his dialogue is cheesy and his character seems to be obnoxiously absent of any flaws.
The plot largely follows Perrin Aybara and Matrim Cauthon, two main characters of the series, as they try to rally forces to prepare for the Last Battle. Mat remains the funniest and most enjoyable character, and his pursuits are the most engaging plotline in the book.
Perrin continues to deal with his reluctant leader mentality, making his actions the greatest hindrance to the momentum of the story. What makes his character compelling is in spite of the morality behind his choices others often disagree with him, forcing him into a tense balancing act.
The biggest problem with Towers of Midnight is the same as Jordan’s last book, Knife of Dream. Despite everything that is happening the series still feels nowhere near being able to wrap everything up effectively in one book.
The attempt to tie-up loose ends quickly results in a fast-paced fun read, but the depth of the characters is lost. In previous entries in the series, what each character said was covered in a mystery of subtext that made every character thoroughly engaging. Towers of Midnight loses a lot of its powerful dialogue in its effort to wrap up the series for the upcoming 2012 novel, A Memory of Light.
In spite of this, Towers of Midnight is an engaging read that gets better as the story progresses. The result is a 400-page crescendo of several incredibly well set-up epic battles for a climax.