Daily Archives: Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The Internet’s abuzz with the release of Towers of Midnight, the penultimate volume in Robert Jordan’s (and Brandon Sanderson’s, to be fair) Wheel of Time series. I don’t have a review myself (but I *do* have an interview with Sanderson), so I thought it might be worthwhile to round up a few of the early reviews, almost all of which are positive.

I haven’t read any of them myself (besides the quotes I’ve pulled), so beware of spoilers!

  • Neth Space

    I really enjoyed Towers of Midnight as I imagine most fans will. A lot happens, many theories die an agonizing death and many play out pretty well as anticipated. What may be a bit more unexpected are the new things we see – the end is nigh, but there is a lot left to happen. Some characters people want to see aren’t to be found, some resolutions we are begging for still remain, but this is a book of action. There are issues, and it certainly isn’t the thematically coherent volume that The Gathering Storm was. However, it is a book to bring laughter and tears to legions of fans. The biggest tears of all because of the ending – no, not that, but because this book basically ends grasping to the edge of a cliff. The resolutions we get are great, but I can’t help but beg to know what’s going to happen next – bring on A Memory of Light.

  • Fantasy Book Critic

    With its emphasis on character development, exciting pace, and large cast of characters, Towers of Midnight is the Wheel of Time book fans have been waiting for since The Shadow Rising. The amount of ground covered in a single novel is staggering, and if Towers of Midnight is any indication as to what awaits us in the forthcoming A Memory of Light, the end, while bittersweet, is sure to be incredible.

  • Tor.com

    Too many spoilers to pull a quote! Head here if you want to be spoiled or you’ve finished the novel.

  • Grasping for the Wind

    Ultimately, Towers of Midnight is a significant departure from The Gathering Storm in terms of narrative style that moves with more alacrity than its predecessor, yet that has fewer reveals and poignant scenes. It is not going to be considered the best book of the series, but neither is it the worst. At the very least, the reader will feel a real sense of closure to some longstanding elements, with enough left over that A Memory of Light still has lots of material to cover.

  • Fantasy Literature

    Like The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight is a very quick, effortless read, no small achievement for a nearly-900-page book (though it probably would have been better at 700-750). Unlike the prior book though, Towers of Midnight really moves the big story forward and by the end there’s a sense of bated breath as events and characters start to narrow to a point. Those who have stayed fans throughout will, I think, find that Sanderson is doing a credible and respectable job bringing it home. Those who, like myself, have become somewhat ambivalent lately and are reading more to finish and “just find out how it ends” will be happy for how smoothly and speedily Sanderson gets us closer to that point.

  • Ain’t it Cool News

    Towers of Midnight is a sliver of a sliver, a single act in a work that’s almost overwhelming in its scope and complexity. Sanderson doesn’t buckle under the weight, but then again Gathering Storm and Towers of Midnight were the easy part. The real test for Sanderon is going to come a year from now when the final volume drops. Then we’ll see a whole different kind of Final Battle, this one in the hearts and minds of fans who have been waiting their whole lives with expectations that no author could possibly live up to. All of the blame will fall to him, not Jordan, if he doesn’t measure up. I’m guessing that for Sanderson, nothing waiting in Shayol Ghul could be as terrifying. Anticipation cuts both ways.

  • The Wertzone

    Many events unfold that people have been expecting for years (and yes, we learn the answer to a long-standing but utterly irrelevant mystery that Wheel of Time fans have furiously debated for over a decade), but Jordan’s plotting skills and Sanderson’s writing means that there are still plenty of big surprises to come, some of them almost strokes of genius in how they were set up beforehand.

    Towers of Midnight (****½) clears the decks of a lot of dead wood and brings us almost to the end. Some minor issues mar what could have been the best book of the series, but there is nevertheless the feeling that we have been set up for a huge finale. Time will tell if Sanderson can deliver on that.

  • The OF Blog

    Doubtless, most fans of the WoT series are just excited to discover that “stuff happens!” It is true that on a plot level, there are several important reveals that either further or conclude several plot threads, some of which had been left hanging since the earliest volumes of this series. For those that treat this series as merely an extended Wikipedia summary, doubtless the developments here (from the starting of major combat operations up north to battles in the world of dreams and one male character growing a pair and admitting his own nature to a long-expected rescue of a character left for dead eight volumes ago) make Towers of Midnight an exciting must-read for them. But for those readers such as myself who wish there would an elegance to the writing or at least a sound structure that limits herky-jerkiness to a minimum, this book perhaps might be one of the most poorly-written volumes in a series that is infamous for its sometimes-execrable prose.

  • Elitist Book Reviews

    In THE TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT, Brandon Sanderson is tasked with cleaning up a huge number of loose ends that should have been taken care of forever ago. His no-nonsense narrative helps overcome this portion of the story that feels like a laundry list. Brandon is working with the deck that was given to him, and he is doing amazing. Are there problems in this novel? Heavens yes. Does it have some awesome stuff? Oh yeah. Battles are great as usual. Rand is amazing. The secondary characters are better than the main characters in many cases. It is a Wheel of Time novel. There is going to be lots of frustrations, and lots of different stuff that will appeal to a variety of fans.

So, then, there you are. Expect more reviews to appear over the next couple of weeks, especially from UK bloggers, most of whom weren’t provided with review copies. If you’ve got a review or know of a review, let me know and I’ll add it to the list!

Brandon Sanderson, author of TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT and THE WAY OF KINGSThe last time I interviewed Brandon Sanderson, he’d just released his third novel, The Well of Ascension and was putting his teeth to the grindstone and trying to establish himself in the Fantasy genre. Boy how things can change in just a few years.

Now, he’s the guy holding the reins of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series and carries all the weight of its finale on his shoulders. Luckily, if there’s anything Sanderson’s known for, it’s being able to write some of the best conclusions in the genre.

What’s more amazing is that he’s not only managed to publish two Wheel of Time novels in two years, he’s also published a 1,000 page novel, The Way of Kings, from a new Fantasy series called The Stormlight Archive. The dude’s prolific and the quality never seems to dip. So, enjoy the interview, and thank him for staying up into the deep parts of the night, just hours before one of the most important novels of his career is launched, to complete an interview with silly old me. Few gentlemen still exist in the world, but Brandon Sanderson’s certainly among their number.

The Interview

Brandon, welcome back to A Dribble of Ink. It’s been a while and *a lot* has changed since we last chatted back in 2007!

   Ha! Yeah, you could say that. It’s been a busy few years.

It’s been one year since The Gathering Storm was first published. How much did feedback from fans and critics affect you while writing Towers of Midnight?

   The relationship between artist and critic/fan is a curious one in this regard. On one hand, I do think feedback is important, particularly on a project like this (where, as I’ve stated, I feel that the project rightly belongs more to the fans than it does to me.) However, a writer must keep their artistic integrity. Allowing yourself to get pulled in too many directions by fan requests can be a disaster for an artist. Basically, you can’t try to please everyone–if you do, you risk ending up with either a completely schizophrenic project, or one that is so bland it lacks emotional depth or power.

Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson   So, like I said, fine line. I looked at fan responses on TGS very cautiously and carefully, trying to keep in the same mindset that I use when getting feedback from my critique group. Basically, that mindset is this: “I will do what I feel is best for the story, regardless of what other people think. Even if I’m the only one who feels that way. But if someone raises a complaint that either strikes a cord within me, or which gains a lot of support from others, I WILL look into it and try to approach it objectively.”

   That’s a mouthful. Basically, what it means is keeping an open mind for ideas that will make the story a better version of what I wany it to be. On TGS, there were two basic areas I felt fans were right about that I could and should fix. The first had to do with some voice issues in Mat’s narrative. (I’ve spoken of that elsewhere.) The second had to do with continuity errors. I am not nearly as good at dealing with those as Robert Jordan was–I know he made mistakes, but I felt I made more. So for this project, I enlisted the help of some very detail-oriented members of the fan community as beta readers in an attempt to keep myself honest and catch mistakes before they went to press.

   There are things in this book, like in any book I’ve written, that I fully suspect will draw complaints. In some cases, I know exactly what they are–and I did them that way because I felt it was best for the story and the best way to remain true to Robert Jordan’s vision. It’s the ones that I DON’T expect, but which ring true, that I want to find and correct.
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