Now that the thirteenth novel of The Wheel of Time Series has been released the countdown to the final novel A Memory of Light begins. According to Brandon Sanderson's latest update on the series, the probable date for the release of the novel is around March 2012, which just goes on to show how good an author he is to be able to write something like the "final novel of the WOT series" in such a short time, whereas people like Martin are still struggling with their fourth novel.
Now coming to the topic at hand: how good is Towers of Midnight the thirteenth novel of the series. As one would expect in a penultimate novel of the series, many of the still hanging plot points were to be tied up, and Sanderson did actually accomplish that particular daunting task (daunting because some 2-3 novels back we were still wondering how could so many plot points could possibly ever be tied up?) So Kudos to the successor of Robert Jordan. Traditionally every WOT book centers around one of the heroes of the saga. Keeping up with the tradition, TOM also centers around a key character and its Perrin Aybara unexpectedly (unexpected because you would wonder why Matrim Cauthon isn't the central character given the exciting set of adventures he was expected to have in the book) Well Mat has got his fair share of attention and Sanderson doesn't disappoint with the adventures of Mat as promised. But its Perrin who finally comes of age in the book after days (read books) of whining, and complaining. I was glad to see this ever uninteresting plot of the Faile-Perrin-Berelain triangle has finally been sorted out in the book. In the last couple of books by Jordan we were exasperated by the ever expanding key plot point of Perrin which I still say is the weakest central character. But in this book Sanderson treats him fairly and pleasingly the chapters on Perrin didn't drone on and on for a change. Egwene gets her fair share of adventures as well as does Elayne and strangely even Aviendha (Sanderson totally eliminated the characters of Elayne and Aviendha in the previous book) But as we all have come to expect of Sanderson he ever always deals with strong female characters. Rand doesn't have a strong presence in the book but then he has already done much and I guess he will be the central character in the final book. Though some people would say the strange sense of calmness that has come onto the character of Rand is pleasant I find it very disconcerting.
Now coming to onto the key plot points that has been resolved in this book. While the three main plot points associated with Mat, namely Gholam, the Tower of Ghenjei and Verin's letter were resolved in an amazing and previously unforeseeable way, the rest of the plot points that were resolved were strangely underwhelming. I guess with Jordan we all have come to expect the unexpected but some of his original plots were really straight forward and linear. So we can't really blame Sanderson on failing here. Though I would hate to state that Sanderson failed in giving due value to the Asmodean question which was probably the most discussed unresolved plot point for half a dozen books. He could have associated a story with it while resolving the plot point. But instead he chose to reveal Asmodean'd killer with a hint and finally in the glossary.
So overall Towers of Midnight is a good read as expected, far better than some of the Jordan "drone on"s like Crossroads of Twilight. But the fast paced action of The Gathering Storm is missing. I guess we all would have liked to see a bit more of the forsaken especially Moridin and that abomination of Shaidar Haran. But that wasn't to be, which is just as well because then the last book is the one supposed to be the best book in the series.
So go ahead Mr. Sanderson. Our best wishes and hopes are with you as Tarmon Gaidon approaches.