Towers of Midnight

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

November 3, 1:38 p.m.

So much to blog about, so little time! I'll fill in gaps another day. I have notes from Scott Westerfeld's lecture at the Provo Teen Bookfest, a cartoon appearance by Neil Gaiman, and other goodies like that to comment on. I also had a first date with a guy that I enjoyed a lot, but I guess he didn't have fun since he hasn't called. I wonder, sometimes, how people can perceive things so completely differently? I wish my radar in this area was more well-attuned.

But I don't feel like writing about any of that now because I just finished a) revising a novel b) reading Towers of Midnight (I got number #60 and went to the release party dressed as Moiraine). So now I've got a headache, but I have to respond to the book before I can sleep.

Spoilers below, but I can say non-spoilery that I liked Towers of Midnight better than The Gathering Storm. Brandon Sanderson seemed to hit the characters better and the style is less jarring. Sure, there's sometimes a strange choice of words, especially when it comes to adjectives, that jerks me out of the book, but I think he has a better handle on all the characters, especially Mat--though he's still a bit clownish. Sanderson continues to do the best job humanly possible, and I can't think of any author that could have done better at capturing the world and the style.

Reading it also struck me with a sense of sadness. As I took the book and flipped through the pages, just catching hints of story here and there, I realized I could only do that for one more book--see sentences out of context and have no clue what they meant. For only one more book, I'll be able to read and speculate without knowing what happens. Then, all that's gone.

Sanderson mentioned at the signing that Harriet is thinking about putting out a more complete WoT encyclopedia after Memory of Light comes out. My response to that is kind of--what's the point? I enjoy reading the glossary because I'm hoping to get secret clues and hints about what happens next. After the WoT ends, I'll stop caring about these people ever again. I'll never get into an argument about who killed Asmodean again--something which Sanderson said was answered in this book. It must have been in the part I read when I was doped up on pain meds, holding my eyes open with my thumbs and trying to read. Or very subtle. I guess I'll find out the answer on the forums.

Anyway, what I'm trying to say is it's like the finale of Lost. Or of Harry Potter. How many times did I read the series before the final book came out? Four or five times. And how many times have I read it since? NONE. Because the anticipation was half the fun.

And when Memory of Light comes out, it'll all be over. And it's not like I don't want it to end, and I think Sanderson will give us a more satisfying conclusion than either of those series', but it will still darken my life a little.

Anyway, onto the details.


I never realized how much I loved old angsty Rand until he was gone. I followed a sad, lonely shepherd boy who had to fight against the world and his own personal problems for fifteen years, and suddenly the angst is gone and deus ex machina, he can spot darkfriends with a glance and turn mold into bread. From a writerly perspective, this is an example of why characters need flaws. I loved the old Rand, and now I don't really care about him. It's kind of weird. And it's nothing I'm blaming on the authors--narratively, I can understand why it had to happen--but still, it's a bit like losing an old friend. We'll see if Mr. Perfect grows on me. This book wasn't really about Rand, so I can understand why it didn't offer him much in the way of a character arc, but it still feels too easy. I look forward to the challenges that will test him in the final book.

The Verin letter thing is stupid. She didn't give redundant information to someone else? Why? Why? Why? That's just dumb and unbelievable. If that was in Robert's Jordan outline, it should have been chucked out. Really. Also, some of the political manuevering in the book struck me as subpar. None of the Aes Sedai remembered that Rand was a monarch? I know it's hard to create characters that outsmart me, but these are supposed to be women who live hundreds of years, and who have been forced to practice craftiness by finding ways to get around their oaths. The Aes Sedai are masters of politics! COME ON! This was the same thing I struggled with when it came to Verin's black ajah oath, that the wording was so transparently, obviously easy to break with suicide, I decided that this must be intentional on the Black Ajah's part, so they could torture members to death for their information. But every time I see the Aes Sedai three steps behind the reader, it breaks the wall of disbelief a little. I also have a hard time buying the fact that Elayne can bribe three Cairhein nobles and the throne is hers, but that's really a plotline I'd like over with, so I'll give that one a pass.

Perrin's character arc was exceptionally well-done, although I was minorly frustrated by the chronological displacement. (Tam is in two places at once! And then he disappears for the rest of the book! Say hello, Tam! Good-bye, Tam!) I'll wave that off as a necessary evil. The writing in the Perrin arc also felt the closest to Jordan's own--I suspect a lot of it may have been Jordan's, but I don't know.

Sanderson also hit Moiraine's voice spot-on, I thought. Preachy but lovable. I'm SO glad to have her back. The eye-losing Mat scene is also pitch-perfect.

I hope Farstrider's background is a little more explored. Maybe the rest of the fandom unraveled this already, but the only thing I remember about it was Ishamael's whispers back one, was it? Anyway, it's fuzzy. And Luc. Seriously, why was he so evil again? Tigraine deserved better.

What's up with the Black Tower? My theory--we've just found out what happens when you distill a channeller through 13 Myrdraal and 13 Black Ajah. Welcome to Stepford Tower.

I totally called Danelle being Mesaana. Go me.

I'm glad Graendal survived to get a better punishment. She was my favorite Forsaken. I always figured she'd be the last one standing, and would crawl away from the last battle and reinvent herself as an evil farmwife. Or something. Possibly, I thought she might end up on Rand's side at the end as "redeemed" (ie, saw that Ishamael was cray-cray and switched sides), but I'm glad she didn't. And pitting the Whitecloaks and Perrin against each other was just her style. How many forsaken are left out now?

Oh, I read on the forums that Sanderson put the murderer of Asmodean in the Glossary. SHAME! I CALL SHENANIGANS!!!

Well, whatever. It was still a good book.


  1. Craig Lee, (Durham, England) said...

    Jenn, I'm not sure if you realise but you've put the date as November 30 :-p

    The Asmodean reveal was in the glossary, but it was also in the Epilogue. Moridin accuses Graendal of being responsible for the deaths of three of the Chosen, which we are to assume means Asmodean, Aran'gar, and Mesaana.

    I loved the book, but I can't argue with any of the points you've made. I do hope that the Verin letter situation will be justified in the final book.

  2. Unrepentant Escapist said...

    Yeah, granted, but it's been like what, seventy-billion years since the old novels? I couldn't remember how many forsaken she was responsible for killing. I seem to remember her having a hand in Samael's death as well. Plus, why would she be PUNISHED for killing Asmodean? Killing Aran'gar and Mesaana, sure, but I presume she was ordered to kill Asmodean, so why would Sha'dar Haran be so pissed about it?

    Eh, no book's perfect, like I said. And it was a dumb controversy to begin with.

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