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Towers Of Midnight: Book 13 of the Wheel of Time
Towers Of Midnight: Book 13 of the Wheel of Time
by Robert Jordan
Edition: Hardcover

9 of 34 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Black as Midnight, 3 Nov 2010
The penultimate book of a fantasy series that has been pre-eminent over the last two decades, Towers of Midnight marks one of the greatest cataclysms the genre has seen. Despite the fact that it will sell well, it is from start to finish a piece of sloppy, boring, repetitive, stale claptrap, which will appall a significant amount of people who have emotionally invested so much in the series to date.

The frenetic pace of the book is all the more bizarre because the last three novels, Crossroads of Twighlight, Knife of Dreams, and The Gathering Storm all suffered from very slow pacing, and, to be blunt, a shortage of anything interesting going on.

Most of this is not Sanderson's fault. Left a slew of loose ends to tie up in a relatively short space of time, he is left far too much to do in one novel. Pushed closer together than they have been all series, the dozen or more major characters interact in such a courteous and unbelievable manner. Laughably in the space of a hundred pages, one character is revealed on three separate occasions not to be dead, and on all three occasions Sanderson botches the tone completely.

The hardcover, 850 pages long, suffers after the first few decent chapters, where Rand Al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, the primary protagonist of the series confronts the Amyrlin Seat. From then on in, however, the book craters, and in the space of all those pages, has one (just one) really interesting chapter, a chapter that occurs a 750 pages in (an Aviendha chapter, readers will know exactly which one I am referring to).

There are just too many characters, and too much crammed in. Not that the reader loses what is going on at any point, but there is not enough space to adequately build up events to peaks and crescendos. The major plot arc between Perrin and Galad seems to have been stretched to accomodate the three book split of A Memory of Light (originally planned as the last volume, but split into three works after Sanderson began finishing Jordan's work). For tenuous reasons Galad seems to harbour suspicion towards Perrin (one of the three original main characters), and despite numerous exchanges, his fears fail to be assuaged, and Sanderson uses this mistrust to try and drive the plot forwards. To little avail.

Lacking the richness of earlier books in the series, such as Lord of Chaos (the sixth installment) there really is nothing that redeems Towers of Midnight, as Sanderson achieves less with a huge amount going on than Jordan did with novels such as The Path of Daggers (number eight) with very little happening.

Towards the end the story degenerates so far that two characters spend half a chapter discussing boots, and while this might occasion a few raised eyebrows, the more worrying aspect is that the exchange is eerily similar to a passage in Terry Pratchett's Discworld Novel Men At Arms, where Captain Sam Vimes discusses complex economics in terms of boots.

These developments are sad, because in the 1990s, the Wheel of Time's earlier novels were the yardstick used to judge all newcomers to epic fantasy. Now Sanderson has found himself trapped between two audiences, the teen market, and the more dedicated readers, and hence is neither one nor the other. Disillusioned readers seeking more of a challenge, and wishing to get away from the Harry Potter-isation that seems to be ruining fiction of late should look no further than Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen or George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire.

It should have been predicted for a series that has dragged on for twenty years and counting, for it was only a matter of time before the series fell off a cliff. With the characters and feel of the series so different from the originals, it is easy when reading Towers of Midnight to forget why myself and others originally fell in love with Jordan's international bestselling series.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 12, 2010 11:10 PM GMT

House - Season 3 (Hugh Laurie) [DVD]
House - Season 3 (Hugh Laurie) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hugh Laurie
Offered by Top of the Charts
Price: £6.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not better than 1-2, 19 Jan 2008
For the price, season 3 of House is a steal. When I saw Season 3 on TV I thought it had gone back to the standards set in season 1, and thought the series dipped in series 2.
However as far as repeat value goes, I thought this seasons has less than the other two. On inspection, the middle of the series seems a little bit weak. With a few exceptions between 'Words and Deeds' (the end of the tritter saga) and 'resignation' the series seems to stagnate.
True, 'informed consent', 'finding judas', 'the jerk', 'half-wit' and 'human error' are all excellent episodes, but there are too many weak/mediocre episodes in this season, such as 'one-day, one room', 'house training', 'airborne', even 'resignation' (bar the Wilson-House subplot revolving around anti-depressants).
The special features are better than before, but they still do not add much to the box-set. It might be a minor point, but three flimsy plastic cases really don't feel very substantial.

No World For Tomorrow (Deluxe Edition) (Clean) (CD/DVD)
No World For Tomorrow (Deluxe Edition) (Clean) (CD/DVD)
Price: £17.64

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Are we talking about the same album?, 15 Dec 2007
I suggest that anyone who calls this album a 'masterpiece' probably didn't listen to and marvel in the greatness of The Second Stage Turbine, or In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth 3.

Nothing in No World for Tomorrow rivals the awe inspiring self titled track of In Keeping Secrets, or the beautiful but diverse three tracks of the Velorium Camper, or the gritty A Favour House Atlantic and Cuts Marked in the March of Men, or the splendid 'Delirium Trigger' and 'Devil in Jersey City.'

Even the track 'The Running Free' pales compared to 'Ten Speed', 'Welcome Home', and 'Once Upon your dead body'. Only 'The End Complete II: Radio Bye Bye' really stands up in sound qualiy to the first volume of Good Apollo.

I think a lot of this album can be tarnished with the brush of similarity and staleness. And while occasionally you can hear the sound which made this band so great in its own way, it wholly lacks the epic sound that catapulted it onto the stage it possesses today.

Chase This Light
Chase This Light
Offered by DVD Overstocks
Price: £10.38

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Imcomparable to earlier efforts, 15 Dec 2007
This review is from: Chase This Light (Audio CD)
Here we go again, another alternative/ fringe band has been ruined by the currents in mainstream music. I don't know if anyone else thinks the same, but I find it so strange for Jimmy Eat World to have abandoned everything which made them such a sucess in Bleed American (or their self-titled album) and Futures. The vocal harmony, with those catchy repetetitive riffs so greatly employed in the Middle/ a Praise Chorus/Sweetness/Bleed American or the slow masterpiece hear you me are not to be seen, are wholly absent from Chase This Light. Less dazzling but solid in its own way Futures was a commendable album in ways this is not. I would not call Clarity 'one of the most perfect albums ever,' and far from insulting those who call it thus, would question their taste.

Chase This Light sounds like a pop album in the way Jimmy Eat World had never been. While 'Big Casino' and 'Gotta be somebody's blues' provide some high water marks, after listening through the album a dozen times everything just blends into 50 minutes of drivel.

On the whole a highly avoidable album even to the most stalwart of Jimmy Eat World fans.

Elect The Dead [Digipak]
Elect The Dead [Digipak]
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: £18.79

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Down of a system?, 15 Dec 2007
I had no delusions buying this. I wasn't expecting System of a Down in another shape or form, and neither should anyone else.

The mixture of Tankian's lyrical style, some intense guitar bursts, and general piano bits thrown in the mix is commendable, good in parts but mediocre overall. It reminds me of Avenged Sevenfolds/ I wont see you tonight part 1 (waking the fallen) but with guitar and piano elements less well mixed together.

Tracks like 'Empty Walls' and the 'Unthinkable majority' might be mistaken or confused by an amateur with tracks from Hypnotise, but this probably shows how long ago the zenith of SoaD was, and how far removed we are from their self-titled album, toxicity and steal this album. Even such light songs like 'Elect the Dead' pale in comparison to classics such as 'roulette' or 'Ego Brain'.

While Hypnotise was rather mediocre, we could excuse it because it was System of a Down. In this same vein, Elect the Dead is mediocre but not System of a Down. I'd rather flick on Chop Suey for what seems like the millionth time, and banish elect the dead to a dusty shelf, and encourage others to do the same.

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