Duffy Pratt's Reviews > Towers of Midnight

Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan
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's review
May 14, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: fantasy
Read from May 14 to June 05, 2011

If feels like a different series now. The pace is moving at least three times as fast as the later Jordan books. And that's being charitable. Let's face it. There's a about one hundred pages of Crossroads of Twilight where the sum total of the action was that Elayne took a bath. There are seemingly endless stretches where Jordan would devote a page or two to an Aes Sedai raising an eyebrow -- or worse, almost raising an eyebrow.

On top of that, the emotional range of the characters has expanded greatly. It seemed for about 5 books that the characters experienced a range of emotions varying from seething anger to fury. On top of that, we might get a helping of scorn or condescension, but the rest of the emotional palette was pretty much absent. And now it has returned -- and not just for Rand.

And the biggest news is that the major characters have finally stopped their never-ending state of denial. Instead of simply denying what they have become, Perrin, Mat and Rand are now starting to embrace it. Although I like this shift, it doesn't seem as organic as it should, and I think that largely results from the radical speeding up of the glacial pace of the earlier books. Because these changes happen so fast, they seem a bit forced to me. And they also leave me wondering how cool the series might have been if Jordan had focused on bringing about these changes, instead of either ignoring the issue or having the characters cling to their states of denial.

The last thing that's bothering me about this series as a whole is how generally safe everything appears to be We started out with 5 young villagers leaving their home in a hurry because it was attacked by monsters. They get led by a witch, her bodyguard, and then a minstrel. Later on they run into a gentle giant, a prince and princess, a half brother of theirs, and the Queen. All these people are hunted by unimaginably powerful evil wizards who have been locked up for centuries, and are really pissed off after having had a really sucky millennium. And after maybe 10,000 pages, all of these characters are still thriving.

MINOR SPOILER AHEAD: On top of that, the book has now fully descended into the Red Shirt of Death syndrome. Moraine says three people have to go into the tower to rescue her: Mat, Thom and one other who she does not know. From miles and miles away, you can see it was bad news for the third guy. I was actually a bit surprised that Sanderson didn't dress him in a nice form fitting red shirt in a nod to Star Trek.

One final criticism of the series as a whole. A central idea of the series is that Rand Mat and Perrin are ta'varen. That means that the Pattern (fate?) weaves itself strongly around these three. At the outset I thought this was a pretty cool idea. More and more, it seems like it simply allows the writers to be lazy by having characters do things that are stupid and out of character. Thus, someone does something convenient for a plot resolution but its something that that person would never do in a million years, and there is no drama leading up to the decision. Then someone else says "ta'varen." And that's supposed to explain it all.
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02/01/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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Marilize But still a good plot.

message 2: by Dan (new) - rated it 2 stars

Dan I second the comment about "ta'varen" being a crutch for a lazy writer. It's deus ex machina except the story centers around the gods.

Conor Nice review. As much as I loved this series (and thought this book was pretty good) you've made some cool points.

I always liked the use of "ta'varen" in this series, it provided a cool in-universe explanation for all of the unlikely coincidences that feature in most fiction, especially fantasy. My problem was that the 'supergirls' had pretty much the same effect. A bunch of extremely unlikely events/ meetings/ coincidences happened around them whenever they needed something. The circumstances around Egwene's election to the Amyrlin seat was probably the best example. Made the power of Ta'varen seem pretty pointless.

And yup really good point on how useless the villains in this series have been overall. Just at the end of the first book those 2 forsaken could have easily wiped out the whole group of main characters in one stroke before Rand figured out how to use the force to destroy them. I always thought it was pretty stupid that these ancient beings of unimaginable evil went to the trouble of peacefully incapacitating all of those important characters when they could have easily killed them.

message 4: by Sam (last edited Apr 30, 2015 05:26PM) (new)

Sam Egas Well I agree with a lot of your points, pretty much all of them. I first have to say I probably shouldn't have just jumped into this series (book thirteen was the first book I read in this series). So to say the least I was a bit confused in beginning. However I had to stick with it because of a school project. I have also never been a big fan of fantasy. By now you can most likely already tell that I didn't exactly enjoy this book. One thing that I really didn't like is the "ta'varen" in the story, like you pointed out. To me it was very annoying to watch all of these characters have the perfect faith, towards the end it was almost predictable. Another thing I didn't like about the book was the unneeded descriptions of the smallest actions. I cannot relate to the other books in the series but this book seemed like it could be a lot shorter than it was. I cannot even imagine reading the other books if you are saying this book had a faster pace. I think one of the things that made this book somewhat enjoyable to read is the never ending action. For example, in the beginning, right off the bat, when Jaret Byar and Dain Bornhald accuse Perrin of killing two of their colleagues which was completely unexpected to me. This is just one of the scenes that made the book entertaining to read. However in the end I do not think I would read another book by Robert Jordan.

Stefano G. Totally agree with you the last books by Brandon Sanderson totally felt a bit off, they were still very much enjoyable but BR definitely tied things down way too quickly for my liking, including the Black tower and the ending of Rand, etc, etc. I also really wonder how it would have ended with Jordan, sadly he passed :/. R.I.P. he made the greatest series ever.

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