Jordan, Robert, and Brandon Sanderson: (13) Towers of Midnight (spoilers)

This post contains book-destroying SPOILERS for Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. The non-spoiler post is here.

I’m going to concur with comments that Perrin’s arc was surprising while Mat’s was not. I’m good with the Tower of Ghenjei section, though, because it’s the kind of thing that if it had been surprising, after so much fannish analysis, it probably would have felt unfair and like it came out of nowhere. I thought the atmosphere was good and the exit was clever and it felt like what I wanted out of that trip. And I’m really glad to have Moiraine back.

Perrin’s arc did drag early, especially since it was a rehash of what’s been going on for so long, but I liked the way it involved Galad and how Perrin learned the wolf dream and accepted leadership and made a new hammer (awesome!) and how the whole thing with Faile and Berelain is finally fucking over. Though I am sort of resentful that Jordan could’ve fit that entire thing into a single book like this instead of advancing it at a crawl over however-many books. And that Slayer isn’t dead yet, because sheesh.

Rhuidean was a surprise and a dark delight for me. It’s kind of like putting the Scouring of the Shire early: indicating that everything isn’t, can’t, be automatically fabulous once the fabric of existence isn’t ripped to shreds. The Seanchan are a huge problem and I like the recognition that the margins are mostly too small to contain the resolution. That said, I fully expect Aviendha to lead the Aiel in changes that avert the future she saw, so we’ll have a two-fer, the road to one bad might-have-been and the start of a road diverging away.

(Also: oh my word the Seanchan, how am I at all supposed to expect Tuon to be Mat’s happy ending? That may be even more of a challenge than Rand’s characterization here, because really I just want them all to die in a fire.)

The Black Tower: far, far better horror episode than the random Stephen King town last time. Eek. Also, the Aiel male channelers returning from the Blight in the Epilogue (Chad made the connection for me): eek.

Miscellany: everything with Lan was awesome and made me sniffle. Lanfear: WTF? Asmodean: don’t care. Galad, Gawyn: hooray, you are both finally grown up, go forth and . . . sacrifice yourself with a shadow-assassin ter’angreal, likely, at least Gawyn, but whatever. You’d think Sanderson could write pregnancy since he has multiple kids, but no. And reunions, finally! I’d look up how long it’s been since some of these characters have seen each other but it would be depressing.

Next book: I don’t believe that there’ll be a battle at the party Rand invited everyone to, because it’s too late in the day for the sensible characters to put up with that kind of stupidity. And then there’s the Black Tower, the Seanchan, the Trolloc invasion, the breaking of the seals, and Rand’s blood on the rocks at Shayol Ghul—just for the big-picture, must-be-dealt-with things. Yeah, that’s kind of more than enough.

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  1. Picking up first on an observation from your non-spoiler post, I agree that post-epiphany savior Rand needs a delicate touch, but I think I think that Sanderson (and Jordan, to the extent his hand is shaping it) is actually doing a decent job of it. Rand’s arc through the last book and this one has actually made him interesting again, whereas for most of post-Lord of Chaos Rand, I just tolerated his thread.
    Concur that Perrin dragged somewhat at the beginning, but the upside (and it’s a big upside) is that Faile seems to have (somehow, finally) found sanity, Perrin has just about worked himself out of his multi-book mopey Perrin phase, and he actually does interesting, suitably kick-ass stuff–loved his tear through the dream White Tower, and the forging of Mjolnir rocked.
    The consensus seems to be that Mat was “fixed” in this one after being “off” in _TGS_. I agree that he’s better, but he still feels a bit off to me. It’s been niggling at me all week. Mat’s been hands-down my favorite character since roughly The Shadow Rising, so maybe I’m just overly sensitive. Ghenjei was cool, but felt a bit rote–probably inevitable since that scene has been pending for lo these fifteen years or so.
    I don’t know what to say about Tuon. It’s a culture with a deeply sick component to it; on the other hand, I kind of liked her in _Crossroads_ and _Knife_, and thought the interaction between she and Mat was the highlight of both books. On the third hand, I echo Leigh’s reaction from her review: Lady, you reaaally need to lay off the whole “I get my jollies from breaking damane” trip, ’cause I’m trying to work with you here, and you’re kind of making it impossible. I guess I’m holding out unrealistically optimistic hope that Mat will deliver some piping hot world-view adjustment to little Miss may-she-live-forever, because, hey, he’s *Mat*. Sigh.
    Gawyn: reaction ranges from annoyance to indifference, still, although hey, taking out three ninja super assassins goes a long way in the redemption column when you’re a stupid git emo boy.
    Galad: actually interesting, for I think the first time evah! His previous high points were getting schooled by Mat, and challenging Valda (admittedly cool)–he actually grappled with moral nuance and showed some leadership quality here.
    I love all things Lan, from Eye of the World onwards, and it grieves me to say that I don’t think Sanderson quite gets how to handle him–he’s one of the characters that I suspect Jordan had a unique grasp on that is difficult to duplicate. Still, the Golden Crane has been raised, man. How can you argue with that?
    Aviendha in Rhudean was powerful stuff. I concur that she will likely be able to avert it (hopefully not diverting that particular future to something different but equally bleak!). She better, ’cause I totally didn’t sign up for that big of a downer!
    Nynaeve: Conversely, I think Sanderson does Nynaeve quite well. I’ve often found her annoying, but she seems to have really grown and matured as a character, and she now seems composed of nearly 100% pure awesome.
    Whew! Although I think events are discernibly moving to their ordained conclusion, I’m not quite sure how it gets believable wrapped up in one more. But I’d sure like to have my hands on it Right Now so I could see!

  2. Hey Trent–
    Rand: interesting, yes, but not gut-level plausible to me, only brain-level.
    Mat has never been my favorite so I’m not as sensitive. And I can see no good way in which Mat can get Tuon to see sense in a world constrained by Jordan’s gender roles, because that way leads a world of OH ROBERT JORDAN NO. Maybe it will be Rand instead in a completely non-gendered way.
    Lan: not really a POV character before, right? So again not that sensitive, but everything about the Golden Crane being kinda-raised-and-then-really: totally gets to me.

  3. Trent!
    Hey! Long time no see!

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