So, The Towers of Midnight, the PENULTIMATE volume of The Wheel of Time, what can I say about it that many, many, many, many other folks haven’t already said? My opinions, is what I have and can say that may mirror others opinions but still is my own. Like my previous posts about books in the series, this is post is much more of a reaction than a critical review of the book.
While the cover for The Gathering Storm is atrocious, there's a vast improvement in this piece for Sweet. For the most part, and by the artist's standards on previous volumes, is an accurate depiction of a portentous and momentous scene in the novel.
To the words of the book...In The Towers of Midnight, two of the longest-running plotlilnes finally come to conclusion, which is why I’ve been internally calling this installment “Perrin Stops Whining and Grabs His Balls.” So yeah, after much struggle to accept the mantle of leadership his people have thrust upon him despite his protests, Perrin relents. Like many of the WOT storylines that have seemed interminable over the course of the series, this one had far too many bumps in the road, but the culmination of this as Perrin and Neald forge the power-wrought war-hammer Mah'alleinir in one of the more evocative scenes in the series, which is why, I suppose, the scene was chosen for the eBook cover.
The other, even more interminable, storyline that closed up was Elayne finally taking the throne in Cairhien. Of Rand’s three love interests, I always found her the most boring, to be quite honest. Elayne and her mother were also reunited after Morgase spent quite a bit of time disguised in Perrin’s camp. Surprisingly, I enjoyed many of the scenes where Morgase played an important role – playing the arbiter between Perrin and the Whitecloaks, giving her daughter her seal of approval, and whacking some sense into her dullard sons, though Galad’s character progression worked pretty well here, too. From being an adversary to Perrin to a begrudging and respected ally, I thought, worked pretty well.
While I realize the chapters focusing on Aviendha were important to the Aiel elements of the novel these scenes just didn’t connect with me. I guess one of the other things I’ve come to realize through this re-read and catch-up with The Wheel of Time is that Min is clearly my favorite of Rand’s three ladies.
Rand was more of a tertiary character here and not a POV character, but that made his scenes effective as other characters could see the changes resulting from the powerful scene that closed out the previous volume, The Gathering Storm.
I haven’t even mentioned what most fans of the series were likely most eager to see occur in this volume – Mat’s rescue of Moiraine, especially since the revelation of her letter to Thom in Knife of Dreams. The trailer released featured Moiraine and her parallels to Gandalf led many to believe her disappearance battling Lanfear was not the last appearance of the Aes Sedai of the Blue Ajah. Much of this rescue mission in the land of the *Finns had a creepy atmosphere that would work in a horror novel. The minor backsteps Mat’s characterization took in the previous volume were nearly balanced by his near ‘recovery’ of character voice here in Towers of Midnight.
In summation, I really enjoyed Towers of Midnight despite some if its flaws (Gawyn as perhaps the dumbest character, in that he is flat out stubbornly stupid; the continued annoying speech patterns of Bayle Domon and the Illianers) primarily because of Perrin’s storyline (crafting of Mah'alleinir, respect from Galad, his blocking of BALEFIRE!!) and the rescue of Moiraine.
Bring on Tarmon Gai’don!!!