Saturday, April 6, 2019

Towers of Midnight

The penultimate Wheel of Time novel opens with a prologue featuring various character perspectives, with Lan meeting an acquaintance named Bulen near the Blight, Perrin forging a screaming figurine, Graendal the Forsaken being on the run from Rand, and a dark storm approaching, symbolizing the Last Battle that is to come soon. The main chapters open with the same windy motif that commence those of prior series installments, with Rand demonstrating his supernatural abilities by making apple trees flourish. Meanwhile, Perrin takes Jehannah Road, anticipating Master Gill to return with supplies, while Galad feels he will ultimately be on the run from the Questioners.

Egwene has a vision of black towers, with Rand visiting her, affirming his commitment to destroying the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison, the Lord of Shadows’ taint making itself visible outside the Blight, and Perrin consequentially incinerating a Blight-tainted village, afterward pursuing Gill. Murders in the White Tower abound, whilst Mat, along with Thom and Noal, plans to visit one of the eponymous constructions, the Tower of Ghenjei, with the possibility that Moiraine is alive within it. Elayne also wishes to secure the Sun Throne and mulls what to do with the supporters of her rivals for the cathedra, further being pregnant.

The civil war within the White Tower is largely over, while Rand cautions Nynaeve against dealing with the Black Tower. Perrin continues to have wolf dreams, and his wife Faile yearns for a duel with Berelain for allegedly bedding her husband. Mat parleys with Elayne to promote technological weapons known as “dragons” against the enemy, and battles against the Trollocs occasionally abound. Elayne interrogates Chesmal, one of the remnants of the Black Ajah, and pursues other Aes Sedai followers of the Dark One. Perrin also faces a trial for killing Whitecloaks, with Morgase agreed to be his judge.

Aybara quickly senses the absence of his lupine followers, given a magical dome that traps them, which prompts him to seize the spike responsible for the hemisphere. Mat and his companions further deal with gholams, and Siuan educates the Aes Sedai in the ways of the Tel’aran’rhiod. Graendal has a vendetta against Perrin, and Egwene deals with Black Ajah responsible for the deaths of mainstream Aes Sedai. The Asha’man further revel in the now-taintless saidin, and Aviendha perpetually expresses her admiration for the Dragon Reborn. Rand, in the meantime, faces some resistance from his friends for wishing to unseal the Dark One’s prison.

The story ends with Mat, Thom, and Noal’s visit to the Tower of Ghenjei, where they face Aelfinn and Eelfinn, snakelike and foxlike beings that populate the structure, with Moiraine’s face settled, following which is an epilogue updating the reader on the various character viewpoints. Overall, this was another enjoyable book in the Wheel of Time saga, albeit sometimes verbose and with odd stylistic choices, although it provides an excellent setup for the following final entry of the franchise, and is definitely worth a read from those who enjoyed its precursors.

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