Towers of Midnight: Book 13 of the Wheel of Time

Never bet against a man with the nickname “Gambler”

Towers of Midnight is the second addition by Brandon Sanderson into the Wheel of Time saga after Robert Jordan’s death. This proves to be the penultimate book in the series and Sanderson uses almost 1300 pages to wrap up a number of storylines before Tarmon Gai’don and bring others to the forefront.

As such, this is largely Mat and Perrin’s book. Egwene also plays a large roll, but the two other ta’veren and their stories need to get them to where they need to be and with whom quickly, because both are long overdue for some major happenings (plus, Mat is married now, and he hasn’t seen his wife since the nuptials.)

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Perrin’s part in this book deals largely with finishing his story with the Whitecloaks and finally getting back to Andor. He is hampered by Graendal and Slayer, who are ordered to trap and kill the Wolfbrother. In his path are the Whitecloaks led by Galad Damodred, who is the first of the trio of kin to reunite with their mother, Morgase. The former queen upends Damodred’s world a little and sets him on a path to see more than white or black, if only in small increments, which corrects one of his biggest flaws as a character, (somewhat).

But Perrin has to deal with Slayer by and large on his own. The man with two souls destroys an old friend (literally) and adds to Perrin’s burdens before finally being driven off and allowing Perrin to escape the trap. After some consternation from the women in his life, Perrin comes back to a pitched battle between Trollocs and the Whitecloaks to save the very people that have hounded him from the first book.

Egwene is consolidating her power as Amyrlin Seat, but is fighting with a murderer hiding in the tower in Mesaana. Gawyn is an on-again off-again thorn in her plans for all the right reasons, regardless of her desires, so she drives him away for a bit. Her fight with the Shadow takes place in the World of Dreams, while he comes back and fights off the very thing that he warned Egwene about in the waking world. Egwene’s battle is intense and involved, but would have come out very different if not for her soon-to-be warder’s constant interference.

Mat’s tale is less battle focused, but more enlightening. He’s stuck in Caemlyn because of his word to Verin, but runs into the gholam and is determined to see it dealt with. He also finagles his way into seeing Elayne and getting Aludra’s Dragons in production, much to Elayne’s delight and Brigitte’s dismay. Mat ends the golem with some help from the Kinswomen, then, at the end of the book, finally gets to go to the lair of the snakes and foxes and deal with the Moiraine problem. Wandering the halls of another world, Mat, Thom and Noel find the woman who has been missing since way back in book four and, with a little sacrifice, bring the woman who started the boys on their journey back to their world.

Overall, Towers might seem like a lot of fluff, but it is all things needed to get people where they need to be in the grand scheme of things before Sanderson can wrap up this large story. He does a good job pacing the book, switching between characters enough to keep the reader interested in all the story lines. Rand’s mostly lack of appearance in the book doesn’t detract from it, since he’ll be a large focus for obvious reasons in the next one. Towers is a solid read and will keep you turning pages, if only to get you through to the grand finale.

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