“Nobody walks a difficult path without stumbling now and again. It didn’t break you when you fell. That’s the important part.”
The 13th book in the Wheel of Time, Towers of Midnight, written by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is a terrific addition to this grand series. The penultimate novel in a fantasy series succeeds if it builds sufficient tension before the final confrontation, which this novel pulls off marvelously. Sanderson really does come into his own in this novel and the jarring nature of the author switch is not felt as strongly here. It is not easy finishing off someone else's work, but where Sanderson's writing felt stiff or forced at times in the previous entry, here he seems to have finally found his footing in the series.
It's an odd choice for a story like this to not focus on it's chosen one but for the Wheel of Time, where every character is written amazingly, it works splendidly. This novel continues many of the story lines introduced in previous novels, mostly those of Perrin, Matt and Egweyne. Perrin comes to a clash with an old foe introduced back in the early days of the series. He also struggles with his identity, trying to tame the wolf inside all while slowly accepting his role as a leader. Matt and his group seek out the Tower of Ghenjei to rescue and old comrade and Egwyene tries too mend a broken White Tower. Rand takes a back seat in this book, although he does have one or two amazing scenes.
Highlights - Spoilers
The main highlight for me would be Perrin's storyline throughout this novel. After I finish a Wheel of Time book, I feel like one specific character shone, and in this book that would be Perrin. He finally accepts his role as the leader of his people and flies the wolf head banner high. This moment was a long time coming for Perrin and it was sorely needed before we go into the last battle.
In addition, the scene where Perrin forges Mah'alleinir was extremely emotional after he lost Hopper in the wolf dream. I would honesty put this scene in my top for the series. Hopper's death was heart wrenching and it was the first time in a while where I teared up whilst reading a book.
Matt also had a few interesting scenes. I know Sanderson gets a lot of flack for the way he wrote Matt's character, but I honestly have no issues with it. The entire scene of Matt and his gang entering the Tower of Ghenjei to save Moiraine and then actually hearing her and Matt talking again...it made me think back to the start of the series and how far we have come with these Two Rivers farm boys.
Overall I would say this is one of my favorite Wheel of Time books, held back only by a few scenes with Egwene and Gawyn, which dragged on and didn't add much to the story overall. The lack of scenes with Rand was definitely felt but spending more time with Matt and Perrin is always fun, and I finished the novel feeling nervous, excited and a bit sad that the conclusion is just one book away.