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Book Review: Towers of Midnight

July 27, 2011

Towers of Midnight is the 13th book in the Wheel of Time series, and the second to be written by Brandon Sanderson (from notes and other information from before Robert Jordan died).

I am afraid of giving away spoilers as I know several people who read this blog also read the series. As such, I’m going to be broad in my discussions and try to concentrate on the craft of writing in the book – where has Sanderson gotten away from how Jordan wrote. But first, a few comments on the story – just enough that if you’ve read it, you’ll have an idea, and if you haven’t, it’ll hopefully not be boring. In addition, I’m going to put this in a comment box, as it might have light spoilers, so feel free to ignore the comment box.

Short Notes: Perrin and Mat, along with Elayne and Egwene, are the main focuses of this story. Perrin finally resolves issues with wolves, and Mat goes to the tower. Everyone else does show up – but it’s mostly dealing with the various ways that people are approaching the last battle. You will see little pieces of Lan, Aviendha, and others, but not much. Throughout the story, the LB is imminent – everyone in this book is preparation for that.

Right, so, what did I think of the writing. The first Sanderson written book felt very similar to Jordan’s works. My belief is that this is due to the fact that Jordan was supposed to have written significant portions of the book before he died – so there were pieces to work with, and it just needed filling in. I read that back when Jordan died, so I do not know how accurate that is, but it seems to make sense with my reading of the second book.

Towers of Midnight feels off to me. Not a lot, and it took me quite awhile to realize that I was feeling unsettled, but lots of little things crept up on me while reading. For instance – this book was a very quick read. I don’t recall the Jordan written books being HARD reads, but they weren’t exactly fast, and I flew through this one. It helped that we are nearing the end so things are happening pretty fast, but it feels a bit “easier” if that makes sense.

The characters generally feel a little less than themselves. I feel like Mat is written pretty well, and Perrin is going through major changes throughout the book, so those come through alright. Everyone else is shifted like 10 degrees off how Jordan was writing. The women do not spend the entire time complaining about how idiotic men are, and vice versa. In fact, I didn’t realize it till writing this, but I actually almost missed those interactions. It seemed wrong having so little of them in the book.

Finally, what really good to me is that the books have fully engaged on the idea of Rand as a somewhat Christ like figure. This was clearly going to happen – no chance to avoid it, the way the books are written. However, it has become heavy-handed: Rand goes somewhere, and the sun starts shining. Rand goes somewhere, and the good returns to people and suddenly a city is getting better. Rand appears and spoiled food is fixed, etc, etc. It got tiring.

I am predisposed to like these books – I like large grand stories and worlds. I am definitely going to be reading the last one, but I am sad that Jordan has died, due to how the differences feel. They are not bad – I don’t want to disparage Sanderson, but characters are different, and I feel like considering the time Jordan put into these, it would have been appropriate for him to finish the story.

 

———————————–Late Addition———————————————-

Writer’s  Note: One other item I forgot – Sanderson takes the first person viewpoint of Jordan’s style (and George R.R. Martin for instance), through most of the book. However, on several occasions he switches within chapters – moving from one leader of a confrontation to another, and back. I don’t recall Jordan doing this before.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Asheleigh Perry permalink
    July 28, 2011 2:52 pm

    I really like your review because it doesn’t give too much away for those of us who have not read this particular volume yet. However, I am deeply saddened that the writing is so different from Jordan’s other works. Its not surprising, but rather unfortunate. I really enjoyed his detailed and eccentric characters, the lengthy epic battles, and the fact that it would take me forever to get through just one volume because each one went on and on and on. I will still finish reading the rest of the series because I NEED to know what happens (I think I’m on number 10 next), but I will definitely take your notes into consideration for Towers of Midnight.

  2. July 28, 2011 3:24 pm

    I added this as a late note, in case people did not see: “One other item I forgot – Sanderson takes the first person viewpoint of Jordan’s style (and George R.R. Martin for instance), through most of the book. However, on several occasions he switches within chapters – moving from one leader of a confrontation to another, and back. I don’t recall Jordan doing this before. “

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