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on 17 January 2011
The problem with this book is that Robert Jordan didn't write it! As a novel it's great; the story lines are great, the characters are great and the action is fabulous. It even has pace, something the Wheel of Time series has sadly lacked on occasion.

However, if you love Mat's character then you'll be disappointed. Sanderson just can't get this character right, in fact many of the characters aren't fully realised. They aren't after all his characters and Robert Jordan's characterisation was first class. Jordan created characters whose actions fully matched their personalities and their motivations could be traced back to foreshadowing laid down in previous books of the series. His characters don't shift in the wind of plot development rather the opposite.

That attention to detail, to world building, to characterisation is gone. What it is replaced with is plot revelation, pace and action. You do find out what happens next. It is plausible. It follows the multiple strands style of previous books. Perrin finally comes to grips with himself and some great final encounters / scenes are set up for revelation in the last book of the series.

Was I satisfied when I put the book down? Yes, I knew what happened next and it fit in with what had been set up before. No because this isn't a Wheel of Time novel. It is set in the same universe, uses the same characters and completes the next step of the journey but fans of Jordan's style of writing rather than say fans of the series will be disappointed.
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on 10 November 2010
The pacing of Sanderson's WoT authored novels is much better than Jordan's. I loved all of the Wheel of Time novels, but TGS and ToM definitely have a higher sense of urgency and a faster pacing than any previous WoT novels did. I can't write a long review of this, because its such a long novel and I would feel as if I'm giving too much away if I point out why I really loved it. However, as much as I loved it, Sanderson still seems to be having problems writing Mat. That is a true pity, since Mat plays such a large part in this book. Its much improved since the last book, but Mat still doesn't seem himself. The other characters are pretty much true-to-form, but I don't feel any of Jordan coming from Mat. I love Sanderson and all his books, but his writing feels a bit out of place here. It doesn't make it any less enjoyable, but you can tell he struggled a bit with this one.

Still, 5 stars from me. Jordan/Sanderson fan forever!
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on 31 May 2011
I've been a long standing fan of the Wheel of Time, and I was very disheartened to hear of Robert Jordan's death. However I do feel that Brian Sanderson is doing a good job finishing off the series.

This book is definitely gearing up for Tarmon Gai'don, the last battle and armies are being maneuvered into position. Several mysteries are resolved in this book, however the fate of Rand and his friends is still to be decided in the last book, A Memory of Light.

I personally enjoyed the book, it felt as if some very important events happened. The book focuses a lot on Perin & Mat. The story also involved multiple reunions which were long outstanding. However, the lack of a certain male AWOL Forsaken in the book feels like a missed opportunity for him to shine.

The book isn't as great as some of the more epic books in the series but by no means is it near the worst. I very much enjoyed reading it.
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on 5 November 2010
Another great installment of Robert Jordan's masterpiece from Brandon Sanderson. This book is all about setting the scene for the last book but it is none the less exciting for that. It is quite a breathless read proceeding along at a breakneck pace and I believe it is all the better for that. There are a few places that seem a bit rushed with things that have taken several books to set up being resolved in a small amount of time, but they are to my mind at least resolved satisfactorily. As someone who has read this series from the beginning I can at last see the end, though from what I can tell resolving things like the Black Tower, Seanchan, The Last Battle and what happens after will mean an absolutely huge last book. I can't wait!!! If you have never read any of these books I highly recommend them. It is a truly epic series that if you are a true fantasy fan you need to read.
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on 14 February 2011
With this book, Brandon Sanderson has already proven himself worth the confidence of both editors and readers of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time.
While solving and ending several old plot arcs, this book manages to start new ones, straining the sense of urgency of the whole saga yet giving the reader some pieces of cheer jubilation by the unraveling of such old tough points.
The writing itself has improved, and the remaining glitches of the Gathering Storm, due to the adaptation of a new writer to an old series have vanished. This book is read easily even for the non-native English speaker I am, and with great awe at some masterpieces of eloquence.
This very edition is a beautiful hardback, designed with the usual look and feel of Orbit, which I've always preferred upon Tor. It looks great in my bookshelf, and it should do even better with its most wanted successor.
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on 17 January 2013
Finally there is an injection of pace into the saga again. Despite the brilliance of the first half a dozen books the latter half of the series has felt like it has been treading water for a long time. With the penultimate book the story seems to come together just in time for the finale. Whether this is anything to do with Brandon Saunderson or whether Robert Jordan already had things laid out to go this way doesn't really matter. What is relevant is that between them, and Jordan's widow, it seems like the saga is back on track to deliver a great conclusion.

It is obviously tricky to say much about this book without giving away spoilers. But it seems safe to say that it concentrates more around the activities of Perrin and Mat and those that surround them. Rand continues his strategies but his appearances are brief and clearly not yet the focus. Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve get a fair share of the book and some Aes Sedai issues become resolved. Gawain and Galad are also featured heavily, more than they ever have been before. There is also some focus on Aviendha but I was left feeling uncertain about what was going on in her sections. There doesn't seem to be much of a need for them and I wonder if in some way they are to do with Jordan's proposed trilogy focussing on the Seanchan; which will now never be written.

Disappointingly there isn't much action from the Forsaken. Out of the few that remain some of them have still hardly been featured. Moridin still does very little, his appearances brief. But he and some of the other leading villains loom in the background hopefully ready to take on a more major role.

There is still an awful lot of seemingly unnecessary arguing between the various heroes of the saga and the undercurrent of latent sexism continues. I'm finding it a little annoying and textually repetitive that all the male characters think all women behave in a certain way and vice versa. It is particularly annoying with the Aes Sedai at times. After all the events across the series of books I would have expected at least some of the characters to have grown out of this. Surely all their horizons have been broadened by their experiences.

The above aside, this is a very enjoyable read and it is probably a better book than the previous five or six in the series. It's a promising sign that the final book might equal the greatness of the first few.
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on 20 January 2013
You can definitely tell the end is drawing near! While I complained about Perrin's few chapters in "The Gathering Storm", rest assured he gets to do something proper this time around, instead of just moping around brooding over what to do now that he no longer has to rescue his wife from the Shaido.

In fact, a lot of the plot revolves around him this time, and while Galad was missing from the previous novel as well, he's back in this one. And turns out to not be a stuck-up brat after all. He also gets to meet his not-dead stepmum, and we can only hope the same goes for Gawyn before Tarmon Gai'don kicks off properly.

Speaking of Gawyn, he's having issues getting Egwene to bond him. Meanwhile, assassins are trying to kill Egwene, but she can manage them perfectly well on her own, thank you. She also doesn't like the visit she has from Rand, and what Rand is intending to do.

Rand is busy being the Messiah, now that he's done with the "very naughty boy" phase, so things could actually turn out well for the world in the end. I hope.

Things are starting to brew over at the Black Tower as well. Perhaps Mazrim Taim isn't such a great man to put in charge, after all ... But at least the White Tower is united again, and that's something I'm more interested in reading about anyway.

Elayne is back again, still pregnant, and makes a deal with Mat about the cannons - sorry, "dragons" - Aludra wants the bellfounders to make. I'm beginning to think I don't care much for Elayne, to be perfectly honest. Mat, on the other hand, finally manages to get to the Tower of Ghenjei, but what happens, you may Read And Find Out.

If you've been comparing the Wheel of Time books to Norse mythology and wonder when a) Thor is going to get himself a proper hammer, and b) Odin is going to lose an eye, this is it.

Some silly names aside, there really is nothing to complain about. The pacing is quicker than normal, the chapters at least appear to be shorter (thanks, Sanderson!), which makes it easier for everyone who tends to say "I'll just finish the chapter" in bed at night. Some chapters previously in the series have been very, very long. Not so here, so that's great.

I've only mentioned a few things here, but there are a lot of very momentous things happening in this novel, that sets up the final novel beautifully. Maybe the Whitecloaks won't be an issue after all, who knows? Are the darkfriends falling apart from the inside? Can the Final Battle actually possibly be won by the Dragon and the forces of good? Read And Find Out.

Towers of Midnight perhaps isn't epic, but the series is, and this penultimate instalment is a fitting near-ending. Well-written, eventful, exciting, amazing ... So, so good.
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on 9 January 2013
Now, there are a few problems with this book and I wasn't sure whether I should detract a star because of it, but by the end I thought it should deserve the full five.

This book concentrates more on Perrin, Mat and Elayne than the previous book did and for the most part all their stories are brilliant. It takes time to get there, but the destination is worth the wait.

Perrin

It is widely known that these last three books were originally meant to be one. In the Gathering Storm, it wasn't obvious and Sanderson had done a good job of choosing certain story lines to elevate over others. Perrin's wasn't one of them, so his story has been placed in this book. However, because of this we now have quite a huge continuity error. The first half of Perrin's story takes place during the events of the previous book and as such, certain things that you believe have already happened...haven't. It's like a huge flashback, which i wouldn't mind, but it's not styled like one. Again, I wouldn't mind if there were no crossovers, but the character of Tam al'Thor appears in both Perrin's story and Rand's story which is a continuation of the previous book. So you're reading along one minute about how he's gone back to the Two Rivers, and the next minute find him speaking to Perrin! In Ghealdan! While I would think anybody would be stupid to pick this book up first as it is clearly marked as book thirteen, I would think a new reader would get confused over this (though, to be honest, it's probably their fault anyway. I mean who reads book thirteen before even book one!). It could even get confusing if you hadn't read the Gathering Storm in a while. Fortunately these matters are put into perspective when we find out that Perrin witnessed Rand's activities on Dragonmount.

These niggles aside, Perrin's story is by far the best it's been since Shadow Rising, perhaps ever. He has to confront much of his past with the Whitecloaks, Slayer, the Wolves, all the while preparing his armies for the Last Battle and finally accepting the role of Lord.

Elayne

The weak point of the novel. After gaining the Lion Throne, Elayne now has her sights set on Cairhien. So we have to go though yet another fight for the crown. Fortunately, this portion of the story is relatively short.

Mat

Aside from the ending, this is the best part of the book. Mat, Thom, and Noal set off for the Tower of Ghenjei. Once there the climax with the Aelfinn and the Eelfinn is exciting and quite creepily terrifying. The creatures were creepy in Shadow Rising, but here we see them really come to life.

The overall climax to the book is something that we've been waiting for since the Eye of the World. Throughout the book, we've got huge exciting battles with shadowspawn, but they're mere skirmishes compared to witnessing the start of the actual Tarmon Gaidon. However, that's not what I like about the ending, it's the less action oriented things. The fact that we get to see the armies of at least eight nations rallying together. A short and terrifying dream sequence that shows just how evil the Dark One can be. But my favourite has to be the end quote. It all leads to a feeling of dread and despair, leaving you truly scared for the Last Battle. This is a point few writers can accomplish. Most will have this kind of scene with a feeling of hope, epic potential, or just plain action, but not one of impending doom. This book scared me. But not because of the monsters, or the concept, or even the Dark One himself. I was scared for the characters. I was scared for Rand, Mat, Perrin, Faile, Elayne, Min, Aviendha, Egwene, Lan, Nyneave, Thom, Everyone. I have read this series on and off for the past ten years and I have grown to know and love these characters. The moment they have dreaded throughout thirteen books has finally come. And I am terrified they're not going to make it.

That is writing you don't read every day.

This is a truly epic book. In every sense of the word and I am looking forward to starting Memory of Light tomorrow. I'll probably end up in Waterstones and begin reading it knowing that it has already been delivered to my house while I was at work. Damn you Amazon! Get this stuff to me quickly! I'm sure you can get someone to open a Gateway instead of bothering with those pesky slow lorries!
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on 20 September 2012
I was sceptical about Robert Jordan's books being finished off by someone else, but after the decent "Gathering Storm" Brandon Sanderson has really hit his stride here.

I will try and avoid giving spoilers, but a lot of the more tediously dragged out plot aspects are resolved here in a very satisfying manner. Galad and Gawyn both finally get roles beyond a few pages in the prologue and move beyond the two dimensional background characters they'd been relegated to.

The story does an excellent job of setting the scene for the last battle, and Sanderson manages to start pulling together the multiple strands of the story and aims them firmly towards the conclusion.

My only minor criticisms are that Tuon barely gets a look-in, featuring in all of about 5 pages and Mat's story is a little dragged out and then rushed at the end. He spends an inordinate amount of time sitting around in Caemlyn doing nothing when all you want him to do is get off to the Tower of Ghenjei.

All in all though, this is a gripping and satisfying read. Writing in September 2012, January for book 14 seems a very long time away - almost as long and painful as Crossroads of Twilight!
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After twelve books of slow-moving, intricate plotting (and a hefty dose of filler), the Last Battle against the Dark One is here.

So is "Towers of Midnight" good? Oh yeah. Brandon Sanderson and the late Robert Jordan came up with a solid penultimate volume, sprinkled with solid characterization, epic moments, and the occasional discovery that will probably have you bouncing and screaming with joy. It's a rich, fast-moving experience that will leave you on edge for the grand finale.

And yes, thanks for asking -- it IS hard to review this without spoiling too much.

While the previous book was more centered on Rand and his inner turmoil, this one centers on Mat and Perrin -- there are countless intertwined subplots in this one, but the important ones rest on those two. Specifically, Mat has to grapple with the gholam at long last, and Perrin has to work out his issues as well as his wolfish other side.

Tarmon Gai'don is coming, and Jordan and Sanderson really hammer it home that this will not be an easy or quick battle. "Towers of Midnight" has a lot riding on it: not only does it have to build up to an epic grand finale in the next book, but it has to start wrapping up all the important storylines. Does it deliver?

For the most part, yes -- Sanderson doesn't quite capture a few of the characters' personalities (such as Mat), but overall this is a smashing book. Sanderson's vibrant juggernaut prose actually meshes very well with Jordan's intricate, slow-moving storylines. And despite Tarmon Gai'don looming over the characters' heads, there are actually some funny moments (mostly from Mat) and some powerful, riveting ones that seem to leap out from the pages.

Additionally, Jordan/Sanderson deal with some long-running subplots such as "Who killed Asmodean?" And without revealing too much, a favorite character returns after many books, although some unexpected revelations about said character had me scratching my head.

As I said, Perrin and Mat take center stage here -- and while Mat was a bit off in The Gathering Storm, Sanderson seems to have gotten a grip on his quirky sarcastic personality. And after getting put on the backburner for awhile, Perrin has a strong, action-filled arc in which some kinks are ironed out of his personality.

Actually, pretty much all the characters get at least SOME time, Egwene especially as she keeps grappling with problems in the White Tower. As for Rand, he's a little mixed -- he's finally gotten over his annoying wangst and whining, but he's now a little too mellow. Did someone slip him some pot between books?

With the series back on track and new blood injected into the prose, "The Towers of Midnight" is a powerful mixed experience -- it leaves you craving more, but also dreading the end.
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