Towers of Midnight

By Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Fantasy

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In A Nutshell:

The Wheel of Time has been turning for twenty years now, and for most readers it feels like ages truly have come and gone as we sat patiently waiting for a resolution that seemed like it was never coming as the plot continued to spin out of control. Then Robert Jordan tragically died back in 2007 and it seemed like the series might never reach is conclusion.

There were already hints in Knife of Dreams that Jordan was starting to wrap up plot points and steer the series towards a conclusion. At a signing I attended in 2005 when he was already starting to show signs of the ailment that would eventually kill him he was claiming that he would be finishing the books in one more volume even if they had to invent a new type of book binding to hold the massive tome together. Those already familiar with the difficulties in getting a paperback edition of the Wheel of Time to hold together can appreciate how deliciously ironic that statement was.

Thankfully Brandon Sanderson, the author who was selected to finish the series after Jordan passed, has been more practical about wrapping up the series. Instead of one massive volume we get three books to wrap up the series. And Sanderson has been doing an admirable job so far. I know that some people on Wheel of Time fan forums complain that the characters aren’t the same or that the writing just  doesn’t feel exactly like RJ, but I haven’t noticed much of a difference between Sanderson’s imitation of Jordan’s prose and Jordan’s prose. I’m sure if you got down to a sentence by sentence analysis of the text then you could discover stylistic variances, but I’m not inclined to be that pedantic  about a work that combines two of my favorite genre authors.

Another more common complaint is that the book just doesn’t feel like The Wheel of Time. I read a post on Dragonmount that actually griped that Towers of Midnight was nothing like the books that came before it because major plot points were finally being resolved. I want you to stop and think about that for a moment. Fans have gotten so used to suffering book after book where there were negligible plot changes that they’re now complaining that the characters are finally moving forward and developing so that the story can wrap up rather than wallowing in a sea of angst. That’s some serious literary Stockholm syndrome right there.

But those fans are also right. This doesn’t feel like any Wheel of Time book that’s been published in the last twelve years, and as far as I’m concerned that’s a good thing. Jordan was great at creating an atmosphere of mystery and dread while  dropping tantalizing hints about the direction the narrative would go, but he wasn’t all that good about actually getting around to getting the narrative to its destination. Towers of Midnight, by contrast, feels like an old school Wheel of Time book where the characters grew and learned something about themselves and the world around them scoring major victories over the bad guys in the process.

Towers of Midnight continues the satisfying resolution to the series that was finally set into motion with Knife of Dreams. If you’re a fan who has been sitting on the sidelines refusing to read the series until it was completed then now is as good a time as any to start rereading the series. The last book is due out in early 2011 so there’s just enough time for fast readers to get through the first thirteen books. It’s an exciting time to be a Wheel of Time fan, even if that excitement is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that all of this momentum is finally bringing such a great series to a true and final close.

Warnings:

I have no warnings for this book. Sanderson is a great writer and The Wheel of Time is a great series. There’s only one more book due out and it’s already set for publication, so there are no more excuses for not reading.