Towers of Midnight (The Wheel of Time #13) ★★★★★

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: Towers of Midnight
Series: The Wheel of Time #13
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 909
Words: 334K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net

Fain corrupts an army of Trollocs and heads south with them.

Elaida’s sul’dam has her demonstrate Traveling. Fortuona decides to use this to attack the White Tower in force.

Aviendha meets a strange Aiel on the way to Rhuidean, who makes her think of the toh the Aiel must pay, their sin and what they will do once it is paid. After going through the glass columns, she wonders if she can sense their purpose like she did with the other ter’angreal and manages to activate them so that they show her descendants rather than her ancestors. They show that the Aiel will be defeated by the Seanchan and reduced to pitiful honorless wretches.

Rand comes from Dragonmount and talks to Almen Bunt. As he talks, apple trees that had previously given shrivelled fruit re-bloom and give a genuine crop. He leaves to talk to Egwene and tell her he means to break the Seals. She decides this is the wrong thing to do and begins to organize resistance to him. He tells her he will meet her at the Field of Merrilor.

Perrin encounters the Whitecloaks, under the command of Galad. Bornhald and Byar tell Galad that Perrin killed Children, including Geofram Bornhald, so in order to avoid a battle, Perrin agrees to a trial, with Morgase as the judge, who Galad has identified. She pronounces him guilty, but declares it a fight between mercenary companies and says Galad should set the punishment. Perrin encounters Slayer in the Dreamworld and finds a ter’angreal that can prevent the opening of gateways. He follows Slayer to the White Tower where he walks into a battle between Aes Sedai and the Black Ajah under the command of Mesaana. Egwene tries to hold him, with rope and chains, but his abilities in Tel’aran’rhiod are too strong and he just shrugs them off. Slayer escapes, but Perrin destroys the ter’angreal, allowing gateways to be formed once more. He realises there is a trap ahead of them and arranges his men to fight Shadowspawn, who arrive through a Portal Stone, with one lone male passing them through. He is able to save the Whitecloaks. Bornhald accepts he is no Darkfriend but Byar does not and tries to kill him, but is killed by Dain. Perrin persuades Galad to give him his allegiance until the last Battle is over. Galad tells Perrin that his punishment will be to pay reparations.

In the Tower, the Bloodknives murder Aes Sedai, but Egwene believes it to be Mesaana. She arranges a meeting with Windfinders and Wise Ones and suggests an alliance, and a new bargain with the Windfinders to replace the one that Elayne made. They decide to think on it. Mesaana and members of the Black Ajah attack and they are forced to battle. Several Black Ajah are killed before Mesaana captures Egwene with an a’dam. Egwene refuses to accept it and it falls away. She then crushes Mesaana’s mind.

Mat discovers the gholam has tracked him. He sends an urgent letter to Elayne and is granted a meeting. He persuades her to make the Dragons, but she insists that Andor will own most of them. He agrees the Band will work for Andor until Rand needs them, but that they can refuse any commission. He tells her about the gholam. He offers her his ter’angreal to study as an encouragement and gets a deal out of her. She is able to make imperfect copies that deflect weak weaves, but not strong ones and do not allow the holder to channel. She decides to tie the Kin to her and arranges for them to be permanently based in Caemlyn, hoping that Egwene will agree. While Mat and Birgitte are out, she visits the Black Ajah, disguised as one of the Forsaken to trick Chesmal into revealing secret information. She gets some, but Temaile, Eldrith and Mellar are freed by Jaq Lounalt and attack her. After a struggle, Mellar escapes with a copy of the foxhead medallion, but the three Black Ajah sisters are killed.

After meeting Elayne, Mat arranges to kill the gholam. He entices it into attacking him, wounding it with his ter’angreal and copies Elayne made. He is able to force it back and through a skimming gateway that Sumeko had opened, where it would fall forever.

Nynaeve Heals Naeff’s madness. She Travels to Tar Valon and takes the test for Aes Sedai, which she passes after some discussion. She then Travels to the Black Tower and takes Lan’s bond. Rand sends Naeff to the Black Tower, to find men loyal to him and tell him he was wrong about Taim.

In the Black Tower, Androl leads the men loyal to Logain. They discover they are unable to open gateways. They note that Kurin seems no longer to be himself, indeed seems to be empty. Pevara also discovers she cannot form a gateway, but when she tries to talk to Tarna, finds that Tarna is behaving oddly and seems unconcerned about the restrictions Taim has placed. Androl comes to her to try and arrange an escape.

Rodel fights a massive Trolloc force, keeping them free of Maradon against all odds. As they are about to be overwhelmed, Bashere arrives and saves them. Rand joins them and obliterates the Trolloc army. Rodel is taken away by Rand, who has found Alsalam.

Mat meets up with Perrin and they tell each other their news. Perrin leaves to meet with Elayne and they arrange a treaty, Perrin is to be High Lord over the Two Rivers which is to be given to the Dragon Reborn and will not pay taxes. Perrin and Faile’s children will be encouraged to marry into Andoran nobility. Perrin heads to the Field of Mellitor, where he aligns with Rand. Elayne strips Arymilla, Elenia and Naean of their titles and offers their estates to powerful Cairhienen lords, promising the Andorans estates in Cairhien. She enters Cairhien to take the throne, though Birgitte has to prevent an assassination attempt.

Mat takes Noal and Thom to the Tower of Ghenjei. They enter and use Mat’s luck to navigate, soon arriving at a room with Moiraine. They tell the Aelfinn they want her and that Mat is willing to pay the price, the loss of his eye. As part of the bargain, he insists the Aelfinn allow them to leave, but forgets to insist on the same with the Eelfinn and they are attacked. Noal admits to being Jain Fairstrider and stays back to fight them off. He is defeated and the Eelfinn approach Mat, Thom and Moiraine. Mat thinks on the last bargain he made and realises that as he didn’t ask for a weapon, the weapon must be something he did ask for – a way out and uses it to slash the sides of the room and they escape. Moiraine tells them her strength in the Power is greatly reduced and that she will marry Thom. She bonds him.

The armies of the Westlands gather at the Field of Merrilor, to oppose the Dragon Reborn.

My Thoughts:

This. This was everything that a Wheel of Time book was supposed to be, every time. Massive in size, in scope and in story yet racing right along with intricate action scenes and politics galore. Sanderson brings the magic back into the storytelling and reminds us of why we stuck it out for over 20 years to see where Jordan was going to take us.

All 3 of the ta’averen, Rand, Matt and Perrin grow up. While it felt rather abrupt, it really fit in with everything that had happened to them before. This was the tipping point where they chose whether to become good men or to stay boys.

This also had one of the saddest parts of the entire series, where Aviendha sees the future instead of the past when going through the Aiel ter’angreal (a magical item). It is sad because you see the descent of the Aiel from feared warriors to scavenging animals and Sanderson really sells it. I could feel the descent, if that makes sense. It is sad also because you see the land and kingdoms we’ve spent the last 13 books reading about eventually being conquered by the Seanchan. I found it amazing how Sanderson managed to describe the next couple hundreds of years and convey the wealth of information that he did in only one chapter. On a third front, it also perfectly expressed how the Wheel of Time kept on rolling after the events chronicled here. This was NOT the Last Battle. Just A Battle.

That brings me to the one thing I am not ok with in the entire Wheel of Time series. The whole Creator and the Dark One entities. The Creator appears to have abandoned the universe after imprisoning the Dark One while the Dark One seems to have been given free reign to escape if he can. Jordan, and thus Sanderson, don’t really go into the theological details of this and that gaping hole bothers me just as much as the apparent Dualism theology presented. Obviously, as a Christian I have a VERY different outlook. I don’t expect my fantasy to align with my beliefs but neither do I simply ignore it.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time #12) ★★★★☆

This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission

Title: The Gathering Storm
Series: The Wheel of Time #12
Author: Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 829
Words: 304.5K



Synopsis:

From Tarvalon.net & authored by Toral Delvar

Aviendha is sent to Rhuidean to go through the Glass columns and become a Wise One. Faile kills Masema. Perrin rides north with the refugees, with Grady and Neald too tired to make gateways for those that would want to go home. He meets up with Galad and learns that Maighdin is actually Morgase.

Mat and the Band try and head to Caemlyn before going to rescue Moiraine. In the shadow of the Damona Mountains, they come across a village where everyone goes crazy at night and tries to kill each other, only for everything to reset back to normal the next morning. They learn a woman in a nearby village is handing out pictures of Mat, so he goes to see who it is, learning it is Verin. She explains that she had intended to go to Tar Valon, but was drawn there by his ta’veren nature. She tells him she can make a gateway for the Band to go quickly to Camelyn, but if so he must either wait ten days, then obey the instructions in a letter she gives him; or wait thirty days, then do as he wishes. He agrees.

Rodel meets with Turan after the Seanchan army has been destroyed outside Darulna. He explains he used their overconfidence and reliance on raken against them. Turan tells Ituralde that this will not be the end of it, that the Seanchan will send a larger army and will not make the same mistakes again. Rodel executes him. The Seanchan amass a fresh army of 300000 men with around 200 damane, traping Rodel and his men in a stedding. He knows they cannot win, but hopes to be an inspiration to future generations. Rand arrives and offers an alternative. Rodel and his men go to the Borderlands to protect the Blight border, and Rand will make a truce with the Seanchan, with the Aiel and Saldaeans enforcing order in Arad Doman.

Tuon meets with Beslan as Daughter of the Nine Moons. He swears fealty to her. Tylee tells Tuon how her force was attacked by Trollocs outside Ebou Dar and her opinion that they need to ally with the Dragon Reborn and others. Tuon decides to meet with Rand, waiting until after that before becoming Empress, as once Empress, she will be of higher status than Rand. She believes that would make the meeting difficult. They meet and Rand demands a truce. She feels herself being forced to agree to it, but manages to refuse, largely because of her belief that he must kneel before her according to prophecy. He leaves and she steps up to take the mantle of Empress. She orders a raid on the White Tower.

Rand visits Moridin in a dream and learns he is Ishamael re-incarnated and that balefire is the only thing that can prevent the Dark One giving one of the Forsaken a new body. Rand meets with Harine and tells her the Sea Folk must do better with supplies. In exchange for a promise to answer any question of hers, he learns that Sea Folk men who can channel are either drowned or abandoned on a deserted island. He tells her the practice must stop. Rand orders the Aiel to pacify Arad Doman and to find members of the Council of Merchants so they can name a new king. He uses one of them to try and track Graendal, via one of the messengers she had used, but that messenger had already died. Nynaeve investigates the torturer involved and finds an apprentice, heavily under Compulsion, from whom they are able to find Graendal’s location. Rand Travels there and balefires the whole palace.

Cadsuane makes no progress with Semirhage, until she realizes that they are showing her too much respect and spanks her like a child. Shaidar Haran arrives to free Semirhage and with the help of Elza, from whom she removes Verin’s compulsion, She puts Rand in the male a’dam. Via his link to Moridin, Rand is able to access the True Power and uses balefire on both Semirhage and Elza. Cadsuane tries to tell him not to use balefire, but he tells her he understands it better than she does and that it is the only way to prevent the Forsaken from being re-incarnated into fresh bodies. He exiles her from his sight for her failure in not keeping the male a’dam safely hidden and says that he will kill her if he sees her face again. He Travels to Far Madding to meet with the Borderland leaders, but they refuse to meet outside the city, so he tells Hurin, their messenger, to tell them to either return to the Borderlands and do their duty, or to stay away from him.

Cadsuane has Tam brought to Rand and they talk. Tam asks him why he is fighting. Rand goes crazy when Tam mentions Cadsuane, attacking Tam and fleeing to Ebou Dar before he can kill him. There, he decides to use the Choedan Kal to destroy the Seanchan in the Tarasin Palace. However, he falls sick when he seizes saidin and collapses. The concern of the passersby disturbs him and he flees, skimming first, then Travelling to Dragonmount. With Lews Therin, he realizes that the chance to love is what makes it so important to save the world. The two merge and then begin to laugh, before destroying the Choedan Kal. Above Rand, the clouds part and and he is bathed in light.

In the Tower, Egwene encounters Meidani while serving Elaida and tells her to summon her. Egwene continues to meet with Aes Sedai, who grow more receptive to her. Bennae and Nagora both summon her to ask for advice, and both are impressed. She meets Suana, who tells her she would do well in Yellow. Egwene suggests to her that Sitters of different Ajahs should begin visibly taking dinner together. When Meidani does summon her, she is unable to say why she didn’t flee the Tower when Eliada learned she was a spy, but she is able to show Egwene, taking her to a meeting of Saerin, Doesine, Yukiri and Seaine. She refuses to back down and tells them that they need to start reaching out to other Ajahs to heal the rifts in the Tower and also that they must take the fourth oath off Meidani. Meidani agrees to continue spying on Elaida as that is what Egwene wants from her. Egwene points out that as it was a bare minimum of Sitters that deposed Siuan and that at least one was Black, it was not legally valid.

Katerine tells her that she is no longer to meet with Aes Sedai but is to just do chores. In the kitchen, Laras tries to help her escape, but she refuses. Elaida has her as a serving girl a second time, this time in front of a group of Sitters. Egwene stands up to her, bringing up all her failures, using arguments specifically designed to impress various different Sitters. When Elaida sees Doesine murmuring agreement, she loses control. Egwene calls her a coward and a tyrant and she attacks, calling Egwene a Darkfriend and ordering her imprisoned. Silviana comes before the Hall to stand up for Egwene, saying Elaida should be deposed. Elaida orders her imprisoned and Stilled, with Katerine to replace her as Mistress of Novices.

Verin visits Egwene in her cell and tells her she herself is Black Ajah and that she only got around their oaths by taking poison that will kill her within the hour. Verin has been researching the Black Ajah from the inside and has compiled a list of around two hundred members that she has identified. After Verin dies, Egwene has Meidani remove the body and meets Siuan in Tel’aran’rhiod, telling her Sheriam and Moria are Black Ajah and should be watched. She is pulled out of the dream by Nicola when the Seanchan attack. She finds the novices and teaches them to link, forming a circle with Nicola, before Travelling to the storeroom where the objects of the power are kept, to fetch the sa’angreal she knows, Vora’s sa’angreal. She returns and, along with the novices, begins to fight the Seanchan. She encounters Adelorna who is feeling despondent at the poor showing of the Greens. She forces Adelorna to accept her leadership and together they engage the Seanchan.

Gawyn learns Egwene is a prisoner in the Tower and that the Aes Sedai are willing and able to relieve him of command at any time. He leaves them for the rebel camp. When they hear of the Seanchan attack, Siuan and Gawyn decide to rescue Egwene. She persuades Gareth to go with him. He insists that she bond him first. They fight their way in and Gareth kills a Seanchan assassin. She recalls Min’s vision that both would die if they didn’t stay close and Heals him of a minor wound he took that would otherwise have been fatal because of poison. They and Gawyn reach an exhausted Egwene and take her out of the Tower through a gateway. Elaida and around two dozen others are captured.

The next day, Egwene visits Saerin, to retrieve the Oath Rod, before holding a meeting of the Hall. She tells them that the Black Ajah is real and swears the Three Oaths, announcing that she is not a Darkfriend and that everyone else is to do the same. Sheriam embraces the Source, but Egwene shields her and tricks her into lying. Moria tries to flee and they apprehend her as well. Once the other Sitters have all been cleared, they go through the other Aes Sedai, starting with those in Verin’s list. All the Black Ajah are quickly executed.

In the Tower, the Ajah heads try to plan what to do to replace Elaida. The hall has been unable to make any progress, the divisions between the Ajahs still too strong for any to support a woman not of their own. Adelorna suggests Egwene and is immediately supported by Ferane, with the others soon agreeing. Once the decision has been made, a group of Sitters goes to summon Egwene to be raised Amyrlin. She is raised unanimously, with no second round of voting needed by the eleven remaining Sitters, there being no Red, and the Black Ajah Sitters having fled with around sixty others. She names Silviana as Keeper, as Silviana did her duty. She then goes to the rebels, forgiving them for rebelling and readmitting them to the White Tower.

My Thoughts:

I enjoyed this. This how the series should have been the whole time. While this was another monstrous book (the hardcover is over 800 and the ebook clocks in around 1100) I did not find it draggy, slow, ponderous or padded. Sanderson really makes an effort to push the story forward. It was fun and refreshing and I enjoyed reading a WoT book again.

I also felt like Sanderson did an excellent job of starting the characters down a path that would bring them from the wildly flung places Jordan has scattered them to. And I felt like he did the same thing for all the various shit pies that Jordan shoved down our throats. If I sound bitter, I am. Jordan could have gotten his readers to this place without wasting our time with at least 3 books that he made us wade through and wait for years for. I realize I am making a hash of this review as I really did enjoy the book but it is hard to sit back and realize what Jordan did to me, as a reader. While not nearly what GRR Martin has done to his readers, this was bad enough.

I guess I’m going to have to make a concerted effort to judge the next Wheel of Time book on its own instead of dragging in my baggage with Jordan. Sigh, sometimes reviewing books seems like it’s more of a hassle than anything.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Alloy of Law

11605507The Alloy of Law
Mistborn #4
by Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy
Ebook, 265 Pages
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now this book was a LOT of fun to read. It was not one of Sanderson’s 600+ page epic tomes, but a fun revisitation to the Mystworld.

This was really a western at heart. I remember reading Louis Lamour when a young teen and how it appealed to me. Thankfully, Sanderson doesn’t write the same ultra-cliches that Lamour did, but that spirit was there.

The untamed gunslinger/magicuser comes back to supposed civilization and ends up having to clean up messes worse than he ever found out in the Wild, Wild West.

And it was a lot of fun to see allomancy used differently. Sanderson has given some good thought to the practical application and while I didn’t really care about the particulars, it was good to know that the internal physics of the world hadn’t been thrown jambalaya like into the plot pot.

Alcatraz versus the Shattered Lens

Alcatraz versus the Shattered Lens
Alcatraz Versus #4
Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy
3 Stars
DTB, 292 Pages

the Librarians are invading the remainder of the free lands, Alcatraz’s dad runs off to find a way to give everybody Smedry powers and Alcatraz ends up in the middle of a battle. Not nearly as funny and smart alecky as the previous books. Either I’m used to it, or Sanderson is forcing it. Wraps things up in such a way that this could be the last book [even though events are not wrapped up] but leaves openings for another [probably if publishers will give it a go].

Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones

Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones
Alcatraz Versus #2
Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy YA
3 Stars
322 pages, paperbook

Alcatraz is on his way to a safe place when he gets a call from his Grandfather, who is at the Library of Alexandria. The stronghold of the Librarians. His dad has entered and his Grandfather is going in after him. So Alcatraz, along with some new relatives, take a detour to rescue everyone.

Interesting. Not as funny as the first one, but it might be because I was expecting it.

Warbreaker

Warbreaker
Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy
4 Stars
588 Pages

an interesting stand-alone story. People can give their “breath” [life essence] to another person and it enhances certain aspects of perception.

The overall story deals with a kingdom split in the past that are now being manipulated to go to war by a third country. Deals with people who were present at the first split 300 years ago and how they are either trying to make up for what they did or running away from it.

My first thought was how much like Mistborn it was, but it was different enough that it didn’t feel like a copy. There was a lot of humor and I just laughed out loud several times.

I would like to see Sanderson explore this world or the Elantris world more. But given his involvement in the finishing up of The Wheel of Time series, that is doubtful. This was a worthwhile read.

Hero of Ages

Hero of Ages
Mistborn #3
Brandon Sanderson
Fantasy
4 stars
572 pages

the conclusion to the Mistborn trilogy.

The power Vin released was Ruin. It was a force opposed by Preservation. Preservation made humans with some ruin so as to get an edge on Ruin. Ruin was trying to destroy the world, period. Preservation gave up its sentience to imprison Ruin. Vin freed Ruin in Well of Ascension but joined the mists and took on Preservations power. Fought with, and joined with, Ruin. Sazed took both those powers and became The Hero of Ages, basically a god watching over the world. Vin is no more and Elend dies to, so no loose ends. The story ends with Sazed fixing the world and keeping it safe for the remnant of humanity saved by the Lord Ruler’s foresight.

Definitely didn’t take the direction I thought it would, but it was good none the less. Hope Sanderson does a good job on Memories of Light, the final Wheel of Time book.

The Well of Ascension

The Well of Ascension
Mistborn #2
Brandon Sanderson
Epic Fantasy
4 stars
578 pages

Everything I thought I knew from Final Empire is turned on its head!

Vin and Elend get married, Luthadel is sacked, but Vin realizes she has powers unlike any other Mistborn. Goes to the Well of Ascension to destroy the Deepness, only to set free some being that has been manipulating the Terris religion for that very purpose. The Hero of Ages is a deception wrought by this being.

Looking forward to the next volume.

Mistborn: The Final Empire

Mistborn: The Final Empire
Mistborn #1
Brandon Sanderson
fantasy
4 stars

this kid is FANTASTIC! This was better than Elantris and is the start to a series, length unknown. End of the earth. Mankind united under the Lord Ruler, a man who saved humanity from something called “the Deepness”. Allomancy[the ability to burn metals internally to gain greater powers] is now common among the nobility. Skaa form a workforce. This book is about a rebellion to dethrone the Lord Ruler[who is, seemingly, unkillable]. Great characters, and nice twist at the end.

/edit 2013
Sanderson and I are contemporaries. So it makes me laugh to see myself calling him “kid”. Of course, the last 7 years have proven how great he is at Fantasy.