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The Last Battle, Part 1,
This review is from: Towers of Midnight (Wheel of Time, Book Thirteen) (Hardcover)
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 it feels much sleeker and less bogged down in minutiae.
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.