Book Review: Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s Towers of Midnight

Posted January 15, 2013 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

This book came from my own shelves, and I will never give you less than an honest review, no matter its source. I do provide informational and purchase links to make it more convenient for you to access the book. I also receive a percentage of the sale if you use one of my links to buy it. And that's not enough money to be less than truthful *grin*.

Book Review: Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s Towers of Midnight

Towers of Midnight

by Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan

four-stars

Series: The Wheel of Time #13

Other books by this author that I've reviewed include Mistborn: The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, The Hero of Ages, A Memory of Light, Dangerous Women, Games Creatures Play, The Alloy of Law, Shadows of Self, The Bands of Mourning.

Genres: Fantasy

This Hardcover has 861 pages and was published by Tor Books on November 2, 2009. Discover more about it at Goodreads. You can also buy it at Amazon

Thirteenth in the Wheel of Time fantasy series.

In 2010, Towers of Midnight won the Goodreads Choice for Fantasy award.

My Take

It’s rather scary that I don’t remember reading this a couple years ago. I guess that is explained by the lack of tension in this particular installment.

It’s a tidying up of the major players; bringing them all to their final dispositions, explaining where they are, what they’re doing. I was rather surprised that there wasn’t a lot more tension. Sure, there’s some. That rather short scene with Mat, Thom, and Noal invading the lair of the Snakes and Foxes was tense, but not as I would have expected. The sacrifices at the end of their incursion were horrific, but Sanderson didn’t exploit this.

There are the encounters with Perrin and the Children, Perrin and Queen Elayne — Mat’s encounter with Elayne was surprisingly easy. Rand has really mellowed out, and it’s rather anticlimatic wherever he goes. Even when he tells Egwene that he intends to finish breaking the seals on the Dark One’s prison, there’s no real drama to it.

I can’t figure out why Sanderson thought it was important to use a prologue for Lan’s ride to the Tarwin’s Gap. Although, Nynaeve’s duplicity does give Lan plenty of time to think.

Whoa, that test the Tower puts Nynaeve through is just vicious. And I think Nynaeve makes some excellent points. Stupid Aes Sedai are so caught up in their invincibility and tradition… Then there’s the power-wrought weapon that is created in this story. A making from legend.

Oh, too funny, while Perrin is in the wolf dream, he ends up in Tar Valon when he’s chasing Slayer, only to encounter Egwene in Tel’an’rhiod. And he knows more than she does! Luckily, his meeting Egwene helps her later to escape being collared.

Who and what is Nokomi? She appears suddenly and disappears easily with words for Aviendha to ponder. It’s like she’s a “goddess” who suddenly comes to earth. And this isn’t anything like what we’ve encountered in previous stories. I have to confess I kept waiting for Nokomi to try and kill Aviendha.

Galad discovers some unpalatable truths.

Elayne has a lot of nerve about the Two Rivers. I like that Perrin and Faille jump all over her.

Well, that’s curious. Rand says that the Guardian at Far Madding only blocks the One Power. What other power is there? The True Power?

The Story

Everyone is setting out for their place on this world stage: Lan Mandragoran is gathering followers on the long ride Nynaeve left for him. He is the uncrowned king of Malkier, and Nynaeve wants him alive and has spread the word of the Golden Crane being raised.

Galan Damodred has killed Valda in a duel and is the new Captain Commander. Unfortunately, the Questioners disagree and it’s flight for now.

Perrin and his people have rescued Faile and others from the Shaido at Malden, and Perrin continues to collect people as they travel back towards Caemlyn. Until his encounter with the Children of Light. Perrin must face several trials yet.

Egwene has her own housecleaning to do. Someone is murdering Aes Sedai within the White Tower, fellow Aes Sedai are attempting a minor revolt, and those closest to Egwene refuse to accept her authority.

Elayne has to secure her throne and take that of Cairhien without inciting a battle. Now if only Mat could get in to see her and get Aludra’s cannons made, evade a gholam sent to kill him, but Mat’s true objective is to rescue Moiraine from the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn along with Thom and Noal.

Ituralde is battling Trollocs in Saldaea, a country where their aid is unwelcome. Although he does come up with a brilliant strategy to slow the advance.

Aviendha is to enter Rhuidean again. This time to test whether she will become a Wise One. It’s to be hoped she can be Wise after she learns of the Aiels’ future.

The Characters

Rand al’Thor is from the Two Rivers, and he is also the Dragon Reborn, a.k.a., the Lord Dragon. A man able to channel, to be feared and killed on sight. Cadsuane Melaidhrin is a very old Aes Sedai who thought she could train Rand. Min Farshaw is one of three women in love with Rand; she sees people’s futures. Alanna Sedai bonded Rand against his will. Other Aes Sedai with Rand include Rafela Cindal, Bera Harkin, Corele, Sarene Nemdahl, and Merise. Naeff is an Asha’man.

The White Tower and the Aes Sedai

Egwene al’Vere is one of the Two Rivers folk and has become the Amyrlin Seat. The leader of the White Tower Aes Sedai. Gawyn Trakand, a half-brother to Queen Elayne, should be First Prince of the Sword, a leader of Andor’s armies and protector of the queen, but he’s in love with Egwene. And he does have some lessons to learn. Siuan Sanche was the Amyrlin Seat at the start of the series, but she was ignominiously deposed and her power burned out of her. Until the Two Rivers girls figured out how to change this. Now she advises Egwene and has bonded General Gareth Bryne, a former lover of ex-Queen Morgase. He will lead the armies of Tar Valon in the Last Battle. High Captain Chubain commands the White Tower Guards. Silviana is Red and is the new Keeper, a second-in-command to the Amyrlin Seat. Elaida a’Roihan was the bitch Amyrlin Seat until she was kidnapped by the Seanchan. Gee, gosh, darn, couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. Moiraine Damodred died when she fell through a twisted doorframe, a ter’angreal in The Fires of Heaven, 5. Rosil is the new Mistress of Novices, a Yellow. Romanda Cassin is still a Sitter for the Yellow. Yukiri for the Gray, Barasine for the Red, Saerin for the Brown, and Lelaine Akashi, for the Blue.

Perrin Aybara’s Armies

Perrin Aybara, a.k.a., Perrin Goldeneyes, was trained as a blacksmith and now he’s a lord of the Two Rivers as well as a wolfbrother. It’s not a role he sought. He’s married to Faile ni Bashere t’Aybara, second in line to the throne of Saldaea. Asha’men Jur Grady and Fager Neald. Gaul is an Aiel and a friend to Perrin; Chiad and Bain are his gai’shain. Morgase Trakand, former Queen of Andor, is hiding out with Perrin’s people; they all believe she is a servant named Maighdin. Guard-Lieutenant Martyn Tallanvor is in love with Morgase and a lowly guard from Andor. Elyas Machera is a wolfbrother and a former Warder. Sebban Balwer escaped the Children and has been using his abilities as a spymaster for Perrin. There are three Aes Sedai who are part of the group: Seonid Traighan and Masuri Sokawa are being taught by the six Aiel Wise Ones while Annoura Larisen is with Berelain.

The Wolves
Hopper is a wolf who died early in the series and he has been teaching Young Bull (Perrin’s name amongst the wolves) how to survive in the wolf dream. Boundless is Noam, the man whom Perrin freed. He chose to go completely wolf because his human life was so awful.

Slayer was known as Lord Luc when he tried to take over the Two Rivers. He was born Isam.

Two Rivers men with Perrin
Tam al’Thor is Rand’s adoptive father. Wil al’Seen, Reed Soalen, Jori Congar, Robb Solter, Dannil, Flann Barstere, Jon Gaelin, and Marek Cormer are Two Rivers men who are mentioned.

The Mayeners
Berelain sur Paendrag Paeron is their troublemaking, flirtatious, and beautiful ruler, the First of Mayene. And she is totally clueless about a man like Perrin. Lord Gallenne leads the Winged Guard of Mayene.

The Ghealdans
Alliandre Maritha Kigarin is queen and has pledged herself as leigewoman to Perrin. She is one of the women rescued from the Shaido. Arganda is First Captain of Ghealdan.

Master Basel Gill once ran a prosperous inn at Caemlyn. Lini is Morgase’s nurse.

Mat Cauthon and the Band of the Red Hand

Mat is ta’veren from the Two Rivers and an extremely lucky man. His experiences with the Aelfinn and Eelfinn have given him the memories of many, many battles with a profound sense of tactics. He has been leading the Band of the Red Hand for books now. Notorious for their victories. He’s also, inadvertently, married to Tuon, a Seanchan princess, which makes him the Prince of Ravens.

Thom is a gleeman and once a court bard and lover to Queen Morgase. Talmanes is a nobleman. Noal Charim is a man Mat rescued in Ebou Dar; he’s also a legendary figure, Jain Farstrider, of whom many tales have been told. Verin Mathwin is/was a Brown Aes Sedai. Olver is an orphan Mat rescued. Lopin became Mat’s valet after Nalesean died. Aludra is a maker of fireworks, and the designer of the dragons. The Band’s visit to Caemlyn is to talk Elayne into building them. Juilin the Thiefcatcher and Thera (the former Amathera, now ex-Panarch of Tarabon) will head to Tar Valon with the other Aes Sedai and Egeanin and Bayle Domon. Mistress Setalle intends to stay and look for her family. Vanin is a horse thief and a brilliant tracker.

Elayne and the city of Caemlyn in Andor

Elayne Trakand is Morgase’s daughter and believes her mother is dead. She’s also pregnant with twins; Rand is the father. Dyelin is an Andorian who has been providing Elayne with advice. Brigitte Silverbow was pulled from the Wheel by Elayne and bonded as her Warder. She’s out of her time with no hope of meeting her love. I do like Brigitte’s irreverence! Melfane is Elayne’s midwife. Norry is her dry, dusty secretary. Ellorien is one of Elayne’s enemies. Captain Charlz Guybon is the second-in-command of Elayne’s armies.

The Kin in Caemlyn include Alise, Sumeko, Sarasia, Kema, and Nashia.

Black Ajah who are prisoners in Caemlyn include Chesmal Emry, Temaile Kinderode, and Eldrith Jhondar. A late night visit reveals even more traitors to Elayne. Doilin Mellar‘s true colors are finally exposed.

Arymilla Marne, Elenia Sarand, and Nean Arawn are judged, punished, and used.

Lorstrum and Bertome are two of the Cairhienin Houses who will be a threat to Elayne.

Aiel

In the far distant past, the Aiel were a people who followed the Way of the Leaf, of non-violence. When some of them chose not to follow this path, they were banished to the Three-fold land and became the Aiel. The ability to survive in this barren wasteland is now considered training for what is to come. The Car’a’carn is what they call Rand. Wise Ones are those who channel among the Aiel and include Amys, Bair, Sorilea, and Melaine.

Aviendha is also married to Rand. And she is on her way to Rhuidean. If she can endure the test, she will become a Wise One herself. A fellow traveler, Nokomi, has thoughtful words for her.

Toh is a concept of wrong. If you wrong someone, you owe them something. Ji is the opposite. You have done something good for someone, and you have earned honor.

The Aiel are divided into clans. The Shaido are the only ones who do not accept what Rand says of their origins.

The Windfinders

Windfinders are the Sea Folk women who can channel. They specialize in using wind. Those who come to the meeting in Tel’an’Rhoid are Renaile and Shielyn din Sabura Night Waters.

The Borderlands

Tarwin’s Gap
Lan Mandragoran is the uncrowned king of Malkier, the Lord of the Seven Towers, Moraine’s former Warder whose bond was passed to Myrelle Berengari. Nynaeve al’Meara is married to Lan and is one of the Wilders whom the Aes Sedai despise, and one of Egwene’s friends from the Two Rivers. Egwene has raised her to the Shawl, but the White Tower doesn’t view her as a true Aes Sedai. Even though she helped Rand cleanse the taint from saidin, defeated Moghedien in battle, and is married to the King of Malkier.

Bulen from Kandor is from Lan’s past. Andere; Nazar; Rakim; Prince Kaisel Noramaga, grandson of the Queen of Kandor; and, Prince Kendral, grandson of the Arafellin king, also come to fight.

Saldaea
Tenobia is queen. Davram Bashere is her uncle, and Tenobia is furious with his defection to Rand. Rodel Ituralde, one of the great captains, was exposed to Rand’s ta’veren qualities and agreed to journey to the Borderlands and help protect them. Yoeli is from Maradon, a traitor for coming to their aid.

The Black Tower

Mazrim Taim, the M’Hael, has become very secretive and dangerous. He’s changing the Asha’men into something wrong. Teaching only those utterly loyal to him, and he’s cutting the Black Tower and the Asha’men off from the world. Logain Ablar has disappeared with Donal Sandomereo, Mezar Kurin, and Welyn Kijima on a mission. Androl Genhald has very little power but is strongest in making a Gate; those loyal to Logain look to him including Jaim Torfinn, Canler, Emarin is of noble class, Arlen Nalaam, Trost, Evin Vinchova, Norley, and Jonneth Dowtry.

Coteren is one of the M’Hael’s bullies.

Javindhra and Pevara Tazanovni are two of the Aes Sedai inside the Black Tower who are supposed to be bonding Asha’men. Tarna Sedai has been compromised.

High Lord Darlin Sisnera is King of Tear by the will of Rand. Gregorin currently rules in Illian. Queen Ethenielle; Paitar Nachiman is King of Arafel; King Easar Togita of Shienar; and, Queen Tenobia of Saldaea have come to confront Rand.

The Children of the Light, a.k.a., the Whitecloaks

The Children are the religious zealots of this world with the Questioners the worst. Think Inquisition. And they despise the “witches” of Tar Valon. Galad Damodred is the Lord Captain Commander of the Children of Light. He’s also Queen Elayne’s brother with a strong sense of right and wrong; he will always choose what he believes is right no matter what it may cost him. Stout is his horse. Child Dain Bornhald hates Perrin because he believes he killed Bornhald’s father while Child Jaret Byar simply hates. Personally, I think Byar is a Darkfriend. Trom and Barlett are some of the scouts. Rhadam Asunawa is the High Inquisitor. They’re on a level with those who thought that only drowning could prove a witch’s innocence. The Questioners have also allied themselves with the enemy, the Seanchan. Lords Captain who follow the Questioners include Berab Golever, Alaabar Harnesh, and Brandel Vordarian.

The Forsaken, or as they call themselves, The Chosen

Moridin is Nae’blis, second only to the Great Lord and can channel the True Power. Shaidar Haran is a Myrddraal. A direct messenger from the Great Lord. Graendal is one who likes her comforts and her use of Compulsion brings her many nobles, kings, and queens to play with as servants. Aran’gar seems to be subject to Graendal. Padan Fain was once thought a merchant. In truth, he is Mordeth and the Shadar Logoth blade he carries has poisoned his mind beyond any sense of humanity. Mesaana is concealed in the White Tower. Rahvin/Gaebril is the one who seduced Morgase right off her throne. Lanfear, a.k.a., Lady Selene, a.k.a., Mierin Eronaile, is being tortured. Gee, wish I could feel more sorry. Not.

Trollocs are a beastly combination of man and, well, beast. Think Orc. Myrddraal, a.k.a., Fade, are eyeless, intelligent, and almost impossible to kill. Individually, they control great numbers of Trollocs.

Black Ajah
Those Aes Sedai who serve the Dark One include Alviarin, Sheriam Bayanar, Talva, Evanellein, Notori, Sedore, Katerine Alruddin, and Ramola.

The Aelfinn are the Snakes, and the Eelfinn are the Foxes Mat, Thom, and Noal must defeat to rescue Moiraine.

Aes Sedai are women who can use the magic of saidar. Men who channel manipulate saidin. The White Tower in Tar Valon insists on training any woman who has the ability to use this magic, and they insist on killing any man who can perform magic. The Aes Sedai are categorized into Ajahs according to their interests: Browns for research and study; Greens are known as the Battle Ajah and are the most tolerant of men, usually having more than one Warder; Yellows are healers; Reds focus on destroying men who can channel; Whites explore truth and philosophy; the Gray are the diplomats, so to speak; and, Blues involve themselves with causes and justice. There is also the Black Ajah, Darkfriends all. Darkfriend is a label applied to anyone who goes over to the Dark One. Tel’aran’rhiod is a place of dreams where everyone goes when they dream. Some merely touch it, others can become too present and die forever. It’s known as the wolf dream to Perrin and his wolfbrothers.

The Kin are women who were let go from the White Tower for not having enough power. They have been in what they thought was hiding for centuries.

The Seanchan

Cruel invaders, the Seanchan believe that women who can channel are anathema. That they must be collared, made damane, and controlled by sul’dam. Only, to be able to control a woman wearing a collar, the controller, the sul’dam, must also be capable of channeling. Bloodknives are inescapable assassins who wear ter’angreal to make them fast and able to blend into the shadows, black stone rings carved in the shape of a vine with thorns.

Fortuona Athaem Devi Paendrag is the ruler of the Glorious Seanchan Empire and the Daughter of the Nine Moons. Selucia is now her Truthspeaker. King Beslan is/was Altaran and is now highly ranked at the Seanchan court. Captain-General Lunal Galgan is a valuable ally and a threat. Melitene is Fortuona’s der’sul’dam and has been trying to tame the latest damane. A whining, whimpering, traitorous Elaida now known as Suffa. Furyk Karede is of the Deathwatch Guard, the most lethal of all the Seanchan military units.

Dragonmount is the tomb of Lews Therin, the last man who could channel, and the man who destroyed the world. An earlier incarnation of Rand. Ta’veren are people around whom events turn. Being in their presence causes people to fall in with them.

The Cover and Title

The cover has retained the style of the previous installments with Noal, Mat, and Thom about to enter the Tower of Ghenjei. I must confess I had thought the tower’s surface was a lot more streamlined than this.

I’m guessing that the Towers of Midnight are those that Mat remembers from his last visit with the Aelfinn and Eelfin.


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