It’s that time again, kids. Time for a preview. Just like I did before, except… not.
It’s so weird. It’s like we’re on something circular, like a – a wheel! And things that happened before, happen again, except different! It’s like – it’s like A WHEEL OF TIME, YOU GUYS.
Thus it was that on a blog yet to come, a blog long past, a post of a spoiler-free advance review of The Gathering Storm rose on Tor.com—and now I’m a-gonna do it all again, except this time with the hotly anticipated upcoming release of Book 13, Towers of Midnight, blowing in on a wind near you for November 2nd.
For I have read it, and I have got shit to say about it. Try to contain your shock.
As before, be assured that this post contains absolutely no spoilers of any kind for Towers of Midnight, even for any advance material which may be released before the official drop date, because that is how I roll.
However, be warned that I cannot guarantee that the same will be true of the comments, so those of you who wish to remain utterly and completely spoiler-free until you get your greedy little hands on the whole shebang in November may wish to take this into consideration. The post itself, though, is totally safe.
Well. Safe from spoilers, anyway. Mwhahaha.
And also ALSO as before, I will have a second review of Towers of Midnight going up the day of release, and that review will be laden, nay, positively riddled with spoilers, and that post will also incidentally provide you with a space on Tor.com to discuss your own spoilerriffic thoughts about the new book to your hearts’ content. Ain’t we sweet?
Links to my reviews of The Gathering Storm, the ongoing Wheel of Time Re-read, and all and sundry fun advance thingies re: Towers of Midnight and the series in general may be found in Tor.com’s handy-dandy Wheel of Time Master Index.
And that, I believe, about exhausts the introductory possibilities, so please click on for the review itself.
Reading Towers of Midnight (henceforth abbreviated ToM) for the first time was quite a different experience from my first reading of The Gathering Storm (or, TGS).
For one, I wasn’t experiencing the suddenness of fresh WOT material after years of (potentially never-ending) drought, as was the case with TGS. For another, this time I had a much better idea of what to expect, in terms of the Jordan-Sanderson hybrid writing style and approach—which, make no mistake, is sharply distinct in several ways from the way Jordan wrote the solo novels. So overall ToM wasn’t nearly the, well, shock that TGS was, on a surface literary level, if that makes any sense. I was prepared, this time, for the differences.
(The dedication page, though, that was a shock. I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open when I saw it and stayed that way for a while. Because, um, wow.)
It helps, of course, that this time around Sanderson has obviously vastly improved in blending the two writing styles together, and accounting for both his own strengths and weaknesses as a writer, and Jordan’s as well. For they both, naturally, have both strengths and weaknesses.
Sanderson does not quite match Jordan’s gift for virtually impeccable word choice, for instance, nor his talent at imagery, but on the other hand, that means Sanderson is less tempted into describing absolutely everything in extensive, exhausting, and sometimes just plain irrelevant detail, either, as Jordan sometimes did. And in the same way, while Sanderson’s full-speed-ahead style sometimes shortchanges pivotal moments that (in my opinion) Jordan would have given much more of the attention they deserved, it also means that Sanderson can give action scenes a driving momentum that… well, it’s not better than what Jordan did, because his action scenes in the earlier books were usually quite damn good, thank you, but Sanderson’s rather headlong method is actually a little more to my personal taste in some ways, I’ve found.
It’s a little hard to tell, of course, how much of this take-no-prisoners approach is personal predilection, and how much of it is Brandon just needing to get the hell through all the million and three things that need to happen in the preshow before we get to the title fight, if you see what I mean. There’s also some question of how much my impressions on this score are influenced by how bloody fast (once again) I read the thing.
But either way, a whole damn lot of those million and three “preshow” things happened in ToM, let me assure you. A LOOOOOOT.
…None of which I can tell you about yet, of course. So instead, how about some visceral reactions to scenes, kind of like we did last time?
Yeah, I thought you’d like that. So, in no particular order, here are some things you might have heard me say (sadly, sometimes out loud) at certain junctures of ToM:
- “I totally cannot decide whether to be pleased about this, or kind of freaked out.”
- “Okay, that may or may not have been quite a Crowning Moment of Awesome for _____, exactly, but that is unquestionably one of the coolest things that has ever happened in this series. All is forgiven, man.”
- “Is it possible to have a complete seal-clapping moment of YAY, and shriek in utter fannish outrage at the same time? Because I have a feeling I’m about to find out.”
- “This is suddenly seeming veeery familiar…”
- “Well, finally, I have only been asking for this for like fifteen years. This is awesome. This is—wait. Uh, what’s going on… what are they… what does that… oh crap.”
- “Man, it’s like a Barry White song up in here, except hilarious.”
- “Wow, and just when I thought it wasn’t possible to despise you more. Nice job RUINING EVERYTHING, ____. Gah.”
- “Oh. Er. So, I totally called that wrong. Am a bit red-faced now.”
- “Okay, so maybe – maybe – you have redeemed yourself a little bit here, ____. You are provisionally allowed off my shit list. FOR NOW.”
- “I think this is what they mean when they use the term ‘logical extreme’. About time, really.”
- “WHAT? That is… that is horrible. No, no, no, no. THAT HAD BETTER NOT HAPPEN, TEAM JORDAN, DO NOT MAKE ME HURT YOU. I need a cookie now. And a hug. I HATE YOU ALL. (But, uh, man. Good writing, right there. I never would have seen that coming in a million years. P.S. I STILL HATE YOU.)”
- “Well. I was kind of thinking that was going to be a bit more… dramatic. Or at least have a lot more yelling. But, you know. Okay then.”
- “Holy hell, _____ just had a Moment of Awesome. Of all freakin’ people! I didn’t even think that was possible.”
- “Oh for the love of Pete, _____, will you please DIE already? What’s it going to take, a nuclear goddamn strike? Sheesh.”
- “Wait, what the hell just happened? I am so confused. And also, what?”
- “HAHAHA I TOTALLY KNEW IT HAHAHAHA”
And so forth. You get the idea, though of course this only scratches the surface; most of the rest of it is stuff that I can’t even give a response to without giving away what I’m talking about. So you’ll have to wait for the other review for those.
So, there’s all that. And now I’ve just noticed that in a post purporting to be a review of Towers of Midnight, I haven’t actually said whether I liked the book or not.
In fact, now that I think about it I never really said in either of my reviews of The Gathering Storm whether I liked that book either. Which is telling, because in some ways I feel like the question isn’t even relevant. Not for me, anyway.
The Wheel of Time has, through a chain of events that still kind of boggles me sometimes, become so much a part of my life that asking me if I like it is sort of not worth dignifying with an answer. It’s like asking me if I like my family. And yes, I happen to adore my family, but even if I didn’t, that would hardly matter; they’re my family. Whether I like them or not is completely beside the point.
And that really kind of sums it up, doesn’t it? My instinctive waving-off of the question of whether I like either of the two latest releases only confirms how much they belong in the series as a whole. They are different, yes. But they are still family, and that’s what matters.
However, all that being said, if you still want a judgment independent of my crazily familial relationship with this series (insofar as that’s even possible), then I would say: Yes, I liked it. I liked it a lot.
I am, actually, just pleased as punch at how well it’s all going. I’m pretty sure you will be too.
And that’s what I have to say about that. At least until I have lots and lots more to say, of course. Until then, my friends!
Leigh Butler is a writer, blogger, and above-average pool player, who enjoys reading and writing fantasy, a good pinot noir, and hurling the literary criticism equivalent of Molotov cocktails. She currently lives in New York City.