The Wheel of Time wheels us right over to the Towers of Midnight

Wooheeee everyone, happy new year, y’all!
I’ve been a little lot posting-lazy the past few weeks days, but what the hell? it’s 2011 (twothousandeleven) now, let’s just go!!
So to officially start the new year on this blog, let’s go for something familiar (review) of something really good (Wheel of time).

What initially inspired me to start blogging was my joy in finding people online expressing their opinions on things that they liked or didn’t and realizing how many of these things resonated with me – either positively or not so much, thank you.
One MAJOR reason was the Wheel of Time Re-Read by Leigh Butler over at tor.com, which is the website of the publishing house of the fantasy saga Wheel of time. This re-read is just heaven in so many different ways, so definitely go check out the thing here.

via tor.com

Before I get started: SPOILER WARNING!
If you intend to read on, you should do so either having already read the latest Wheel of Time novel entitled “Towers of Midnight” or planning to never read it, or so far in the future that you will have forgotten about this review. Because I’m gonna SPOIL, and with a passion, at that.

Soooo…..
I loved it.
Hah. Surprise. In all seriousness, I mean, it is the mothereffin’ Wheel of Time, so chances are predictably slim, that I would not like it. I have to say though, that I enjoyed the previous novel “The Gathering Storm” more than “Towers of Midnight.” I guess that stems from the particular and singular super-über-awesomeness that was Verin and her revelation in TGS, a surprising event that doesn’t have an equal within TOM. Plus, it probably also owes to TOM being less coherent POV-wise, since TGS was so very centered around the developments of Egwene and Rand, and it worked beautifully for that one. And yeah, Verin. There is still very little that tops that.

via fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com

Furthermore, there are a few things that bug me. Big time example being “Wheel of Time 90210.” I guess by now we all kinda figured out that the major underlying theme of the whole narrative is the whole yin-yang schtick with male and female force having to work together and be on equal terms. But does that really necessitate that all the main characters have to fall in love? With other main characters at that?
The couple I want to single out in particular for TOM is the unholy Berelain-Galad union. What the heck? I mean, come on. “The most beautiful woman in all Randland” and the “most handsome man in all Randland” fall in love with each other because they find each other so damn…attractive? This gets no originality points from me, sorriez. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being attracted, but pretty please, could it be a little less than mega-super-eternal-love at first sight? As much as I dread some plotlines associated with Faile and Perrin, at least I believe that they fell in love with each other and therefore care about each other. Hell, even the whole Morgase – Tallanvor thing, I kinda buy into, and that says a lot, cause that relationship comes off as terribly constructed. But Berelain and Galad? Sorry, no fan.
And while we’re at it: Moiraine and Thom? The last book made it kinda clear already, but: why, oh why? Moiraine and Thome were awesome characters in their own right, and hey, let them have love, but what I decidedly do not want to read about is a love-affair that does not hold any credibility for me whatsoever, just to finally have the two be with someone. Urgh. Undo, please.

To be honest, that Thom-thing sort of ruined the whole rescue-Moiraine-action for me. I was soo looking forward to it, much like anyone, I guess. I mean, girl got out with a fucking bang, and I was pumped to see her coming back with an even bigger one. But what we got felt kind of mediocre. To me, the whole Eelfinn/Aelfinn episode felt much too short, I didn’t feel that we were farther from the entrance than two steps even though I was supposed to and then it got all like: hey, there she is, take her, run and out with the magic stick. Whee, dunnit. I expected half of the novel to be about the rescue mission and wondered for 750+ pages if we’d even get there. I wanted to read more about this other realm, I wanted more creativity concerning the bargains and the getting out, and yeah, I wanted more Moiraine. Not just the unconscious/swooning over Thom type. Blah.

via cinemablend.com

Another part that left me underwhelmed was the one about Aviendah’s visions. In the past these sort of chapters were among the best and most interesting to me, and even this one is kind of awesome in what we get to see and experience, I just felt that the order was the wrong way round. From a narrative perspective it might make sense to start with what lies farthest in the future, so that we readers don’t immediately grasp what the whole thing is about, but the closer we got to actual events, the lamer it felt, especially since the whole outcome was suspect number one already after the first paragraph. I wanted it to progress from now to extinction, with a little more people in between. I’m a greedy fan, I know.

I was content with the amount of fake-reality-scenes for Nynaeve’s chapter in the Ter’Angreal, though. What I could have done decidedly less with is Elayne-chapters. Ok, hands up now: Who actually likes the Elayne character? The whole Succession storyline was not exactly a thrill IMHO, and her appearances in TOM made me all go: you scheming little brat. Gee, she sucks. There she is surrounded by cool characters like Birgitte and then she is just such a manipulating little thing. Made me realize once again: This whole Rand and three girls thing (which I have major issues with for its rampant sexist notions) is just not believable to me, because I feel like the only virtue Elayne possesses is looking pretty, and this getting you married to the Dragon Reborn does not pleaseth me, mind you. I also don’t buy the Aviendah-Rand part of the rectangle, even though I like her. I think she’s interesting, but I don’t think either her or Rand know each other (and I think she should have gotten more screen time in TOM) all too well. And then there is just Min, who is all kinds of adorable and awesome and like the real companion of Rand, so: what the hell?

via monkeysloth.net

Up until now, this turned out to be a rather whiny review, right? But then again there is the singular awesomeness of making Perrin an interesting and likeable character again. Thanks, light, yay! Yay! I mean, Perrin, where have you been? The whole rescue-Faile plot was not only too long and too sexist in its implications, but you were also a total a-hole in it, and the issues that you resolve in this very novel weren’t even resolved by the shitty plotline preceding it. But now: Cookies and milk, y’all, Mr. Blacksmith is back blacksmithing mighty hammers and leading people in need and being incredibly noble about rescuing foes and submitting to law…. Awww, fantastic. There was a time when Perrin was my favorite character, which was ca. 10 books ago, but now I at least remember why that might have been. Even Faile didn’t suck as much as she used to. Oh, and of course extra-honorable mention of the wolf-dream a.k.a. Tel’aran’rhiod and all the wolf-spirits. Bye Hopper (sniff) but whoa, Boundless, that was a twist I didn’t see coming and loved for what it did. Thumbs up!

And while we’re at it: Galad? Like: Galad?? Didn’t see that one coming, meaning, the fact that I now kinda like you even though you’ve been a total dickhead the last 12 books. Even the whole Children of the Light gang is somewhat redeemed, who’da thunk dat?
Same goes for Gawyn and some serious badassery against the evil Seanchan assassins. Well done, and suckitude level of his character lowered considerably. Me likey, a lot.

via edwardcheever.files.wordpress.com

Then we had clever Graendal, whose plans were crossed in any imaginable way, so all the cleverness gone to waste really. And Egwene, who was all kinds of awesome in TGS and turned out to be a little on the sucky side in this one. I guess she has to be, in order to bring the finger-snapping diva-contest between her and Rand to its climax in the next instalment A Memory of Light.
Finally, the secrecy around Morgase came to an end, that kind of was about time.
And finally (a little) more of the Black Tower. And uh oh, major creepiness ahead.
Do I have to mention how much I still heart Nyneave and Mat? No. But I totally want to. I love these characters!

All in all a solid thirteenth novel, which sounds like I’m hating it. I do very much not do so, but it is the penultimate novel, so it has to wrap up things and build up tension, so naturally it creates anticipation without being the book that was written to let shit hit the fan and see people bringing The Awesome. Kewl, that we finally have synched timelines for all our major characters, cause in 2012 we’ll be reading about a lot of Shadowspawn bringing evil of all sorts, battles of epic extent and hopefully a few dead main characters. It’s fucking Tarmon Gai’don, folks.

Haven’t read Towers of Midnight yet? Go and do so!
Haven’t read any Wheel of Time novel? Lower your head in shame and do something about it!

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