Book Review: TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - book 13

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE EYE OF THE WORLD, THE GREAT HUNT, THE DRAGON REBORN, THE SHADOW RISING, THE FIRES OF HEAVEN, LORD OF CHAOS, A CROWN OF SWORDS, THE PATH OF DAGGERS, WINTER’S HEART, CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT, KNIFE OF DREAMS, and THE GATHERING STORM*

Synopsis:

Book cover for TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT: title in white on grey towers on a grey sky

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

Perrin Aybara is haunted by spectres from his past. To prevail, he must find a way to master the wolf within him or lose himself to it for ever.

Meanwhile, Matrim Cauthon prepares for the most difficult challenge of his life. The Tower of Ghenjei awaits, and its secrets will reveal the fate of a friend long lost.

The end draws near. It’s time to roll the dice. 

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

While I didn’t enjoy this one as much as the previous, Brandon Sanderson’s writing/take on Robert Jordan’s style is still more readable. It just feels like it flows more and doesn’t take so long to say everything. And that helps with pacing – I basically read this one in two days because it didn’t feel like such a chore to slog through.

The reason I didn’t find it as engaging as THE GATHERING STORM was that I was so aware throughout that this is the penultimate book, and yet it didn’t feel like it. There was no real sense that it was building to something, to that Final Battle. I mean, they were talking about it, but there was no feeling of momentum. Instead, I knew the Final Battle was going to happen in the final book, so this instead felt like everyone was getting into position, and that was bout the point of it. A filler book, to make the last alliances, and that rather undermined the tension.

I think what would have helped would have been to have that big meeting Rand promised and Egwene was scheming to get support for right at the end. The big meeting where they decide what to do and how to approach the Final Battle. Instead, what I got was a lot of small scale battles and things that felt like side quests, all unrelated from each other. Right now, coming to the end, I want things to be drawing together, to really have a cohesive sense.

As the synopsis/blurb above suggests, this is not a Rand book. He’s hardly in it, and it’s the penultimate! (Another reason it didn’t feel like it was heading anywhere.) Instead, Perrin takes most of the book, followed by Mat, who’s sort of wandering around not in any hurry to do what the blurb says he is. Honestly, it feels like an after thought when it happens at the end.

There’s also a lot of time spent on people in the Borderlands, fighting to protect a city/garrison. I was rather uninterested in those. It took me ages to remember who he was, and there was no connection to him as a main character, so I was always a bit disappointed to return to him for yet another chapter of killing Trollocs.

I think that also contributed to the lack of forward momentum for me. Characters like Avienda and Min and Nyaneave got so little time in this book they may as well not have been in it, but these are the leads! These are the ones I’ve spend books getting to know, but somehow they can be pushed aside because they’re not doing “enough” to warrant page time this close to the end? It feels very structurally wrong.

One more book to go! Honestly, at this point, it’s relief that it’s going to be over soon more than anything else spurring me on. I am somewhat curious whether there’s going to be a body count, but that’s about it.


Read my reviews of other books by Robert Jordan (and those completed by Brandon Sanderson):

The Wheel of Time (this series):

For books written by Brandon Sanderson that aren’t the completion of this series, see his entry in Book Review Index Sa

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