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November 23, 2010

The Wheel of Time 13: Towers of Midnight

Posted by on Nov 23, 2010
Towers of Midnight

How do you write a review about the 13th book in the largest fantasy epic of all time without giving away spoilers? I think it’s legitimate to ask when a story in any line of media becomes too unwieldy for the average person to engage with. Think starting Lost now, or picking up the Wheel of Time – you can do it, but it does require significant dedication to the cause.

Luckily, I don’t have that problem, so after the break I’m going to talk about why I liked this latest installment, and I’m not even going to give anything away (as long as you don’t mind reading some ridiculously nerdy fantasy names).
For those of you who haven’t read even part of the Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (and Brandon Sanderson), I am unapologetic.  You should go read it, since it is an example of epic storytelling unparalleled in modern literature, but I’m not going to try and sell you on it because you’ll never make it through unless you’re genuinely interested.

For those that have read at least part of the Wheel of Time, you will be pleased to know that the thirteenth book continues the sharp and energetic rejuvenation of the world pioneered by Brandon Sanderson in the twelfth, and sends it careening towards the finale in a way with a sense of purpose that makes me believe he might actually manage to wrap up the massive story with all it’s myriad plots.

I will admit, that even as an avid fan, I found some of the 8-11 range in the series directionally indecisive, buried under layers and layers of plot, and involving more characters than the entire Twilight and Harry Potter series combined. I will forgive Robert Jordan for that unequivocally, as after all the man was quite literally dying. It is however within the context of that malaise that Brandon Sanderson’s ability to take up the torch and sally forth into the story, while staying true to its feel is particularly impressive.

It is a difficult situation for the author of such an epic to die with it unfinished because it can be all to easy to do more harm than good in completing it – even when well intentioned. Given that, it is refreshing to see the excellent trajectory launched in book twelve continue on in book 13.

As promised, no spoilers, but seriously go read it – it’s freaking awesome.

* As an aside, if you like what Sanderson has done with the Wheel of Time, go read his excellent Mistborn trilogy.