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DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY

The Luckers Official Review.


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Since I've now opened thread requests, I decided it would be alright to exploit my mighty admin powers and create a thread for myself. In any case I did this last time, and people seemed to enjoy it, so hopefully I might provide some fun again. It will contain full spoilers.

 

General Thoughts

 

I loved this book. It was epic and exciting and sad and brilliant and complex and subtle and potent and cohesive and smooth and rough and just plain chock full of awesome. People have been varied about which they like better--the Gathering Storm or Towers of Midnight. I like Towers better--in fact I'd probably say that Towers of Midnight is now my second favourite book in the series, narrowly ahead of 4,5 and 6, and just behind 11. Resolutions and developments I have been waiting for for years now followed one another like blow after blow of pure awesome. From small stuff, like Egwene's plans for the unification of channeling forces--to big stuff like the return of Moiraine--Towers of Midnight is a veritable gold mine of both information and events.

 

 

Content

 

Brandon said several times that this book had a much wider scope than tGS, and boy was he telling the truth. So much happens in this book, not just in terms of plot, but in terms of world-building as well. I said above that I think TofM was a better book than tGS, and this is probably the reason... Whilst tGS had a focus and a drive that led to a massive pay off at the end, TofM has a complexity of woven story that is my personal favourite style of storytelling--Indeed keep in mind that I enjoyed CoT for precisely this reason, and that therefore you may wish to take my position on this with a grain of salt. But yes, I love minutia--small pieces woven into a greater tapestry. And, with one exception which I'll speak of later, Brandon did this with great elegance in Towers of Midnight.

 

Writing Style

 

People have raised the number of typo's in this book, but frankly Typos do not bother me all that much--I'm dyslexic, and thus maybe more sympathetic to the issues inherent in cleansing a book of that size of typos in the time they had. Either way, to each their own, and for me much more important is the flow of the writing, the elegance of the description, and the organic nature of the dialogue. And as far as that goes I think Brandon did an excellent job. This book flowed, and that was something I was concerned about given the greater complexity of the narrative in TofM compared to tGS. But I needn't have worried, the point of views were woven together with a cohesion that matched any of the earlier books, pulling you into the story and preparing you to be awed.

 

I also made the point in my review of The Gathering Storm that characters far too often thought about events earlier in the series, especially when making decisions. I made the point then that this was something a good thing--it showed that Brandon had studied the characters, and knew what informed their actions or decisions, thus resulting in the character being true to themselves--but that we (the reader) did not need to see it as it broke the fourth wall, and took us out of the narative. In Towers of Midnight, however, Brandon seemed to sit more comfortably in the Wheel of Time, and as a result the story benefited. Rather than explain why a character acted a certain way, they simply act, and we are trusted to intuit why--which, so long as Brandon's knowledge of the character was on line, it wasn't a problem... and Brandon was on line. Indeed the only character I feel he truly missed was Cadsuane, and the vast majority of you think I'm delusional in my beliefs about her :-).

 

In any case I saw somewhere that someone thought this was more of a Brandon-book than a Wheel-book, and I couldn't disagree more. This was a Wheel of Time book--and a damn good one at that.

 

The Characters

 

Perrin and Galad

 

This book was very much Perrin's book. And it was incredible--I loved the evolution in his and Faile's relationship, I loved the dream training, the fight with Slayer, the destruction of the dreamspike. The Hammer was awesome, the balefire block--and his response to Egwene's shock--was beyond words in being cool. I loved the development and resolution with Galad--in fact I loved that more than I expected too. Pre-ToM I simply did not care at all about Perrin's angst about the Whitecloaks, and hoped only that it was swiftly resolved, but by the end I was there going 'Yeah! Perrin and Galad are gonna become friends! Awesome!'

 

I did have a problem with Perrin though, and that was with the early parts of his PoV. If you combine the tGS PoV's with his early ones in this book you get the blunt reiteration of his concerns and worries over leadership and the wolf within--which meant that by the time you get to chapters like Shanna'har, the emotional intensity of the scene is undercut by the feeling of 'Meh. I've read this already'. It also made the early scene's feel like filler--like there was a need to see Perrin before he began resolving his issues, but that there was nothing for him to do--which I don't think was an accurate perception--there are things there that needed to be covered, like his new army and the snake Bubble of Evil for instance. But the heavy focus on his concerns as the subject matter of those scenes made them feel a bit... empty. Superflous.

 

I should perhaps say, though, that I read those early scenes one at a time out of a friends book before the release, and that my desperation to read further may have added to the sense of repitition--and to my resulting frustration--but I did find Perrin's early scenes irritating, for all that the laid the foundation of a brilliant pay off.

 

Egwene

 

Egwene was amazing. Her arc in this was so much larger than I expected, and also streamlined, with so many developments and tiny pieces of awesome woven in that the storyline feels like its twice the size it actually was--and when I spoke above of the elegance of the weaving of the story in this book, Egwene's pops first to mind. Some dislike her presumption with Rand's intentions towards the seals, but I didn't--largely because of the way she handles the Wise Ones and the Windfinders... or perhaps more importantly her comments to Yukiri directly afterwards. The Aes Sedai will never stop trying to influence events--and maybe they shouldn't. The concept of a group looking to guide the world to a better place is not necessarily a bad one, it just depends on who does the influencing. My problem with the Aes Sedai doing so is they presume they should, and that their way is always best simply because it is their way.

 

In that meeting however Egwene opens the Aes Sedai to falling under the Wise Ones or Windfinders--she wants the Tower to end up on top, but not because the Aes Sedai should automatically be on top, but because she intends to make the Aes Sedai earn that by actually showing themselves as the best. I think this is the healthiest attitude to find heading a group that is trying to lead the world. The acknowledgement that that role must be earned.

 

Does that make her immediate assumption that Rand is wrong alright? No. It was still an assumption, made without any true understanding of his specific reasons, and with no consideration that he might HAVE specific reasons. But then on the reverse is that Rand made no attempt to convey his reasons to her to begin with. And she does have the wisdom to change her mind, we've seen this. Ultimately, I'd even go so far as to say that based on what she knows that she is right to prepare to stop it, but wrong in not considering the possibility of not stopping it. I think she can get past that.

 

Either way, I'm looking forward to the fight between her and Rand in aMoL. Also, Gawyn--I understand her reasons, but she made mistakes there. A fact I suspect she has realized.

 

Rand

 

I'm not sure what I think of Rand. He was kind of like what I think would happen if Buddha and Jesus had a philosophical love baby that was then raised by King Arthur. At first I thought he was getting too cool for school, especially with his new super-weaving abilities (though those were foreshadowed in Aviendha's children and Min's viewing about their 'oddness'), but the more I think about it the more I wonder if this is not an incredibly subtle trap--Cyndane being the bait. After all now he's a nice guy it's not inconcievable that he will be manipulated on an emotional level.

 

I suppose what I'm worried about is something of a Richard Rahl syndrome--with never a wrong answer, and all the other characters sitting around him gazing at him with the appropriate degree of awe after having opposed him with flimsy arguments that he's easily torn apart. I dunno... maybe it's just me but I don't want a perfect hero, nor to read about Jesus's victory over the Dark One--though I'm certainly not saying he is that in Towers of Midnight--we frankly don't get to see enough of inside his head to know--I'm just concerned that we might. I'll say this also--having characters analyse Rand and decide he is still Rand didn't settle things for me. If anything it made me more inclined to notice discrepencies in his character.

 

So yeah, I'm reserving judgement--but if in aMoL Rand lays Shayol Ghoul to waste with a single sweep of his lazer beam eyes whilst writing poetry and discussing philosophy, I'm gonna be pretty unhappy.

 

Nynaeve

 

I don't have much to say about Nynaeve, except that she was also awesome. She made so many points that the Aes Sedai needed to hear, and the few she missed Rand made about her in turn. I think in many ways Nynaeve's simple existence with bring about many much needed changes within the Tower.

 

Lan

 

I thought his arc was handled a bit too bluntly. In KoD he speaks of marshalling forces for the Blight--yes, he refuses to lead men, but he is not completely ignorent of what would need to be done to actually hold Tarwin's Gap. In ToM, however, he only wishes to ride to the Blight himself--which would achieve nothing.

 

Don't get me wrong, Lan's theme in this book was always going to be learning to accept his role as King of Malkier and I got goosebumps at his challenge at the end, but where I was expecting him to be resisting taking a leadership position of the forces gathering to hold the Gap, it was instead him resisting having anyone else with him at all. That heavy focus came across a bit... well... tactically stupid.

 

Moiraine

 

Love. Love. Love. I was wrong about many things. LOVE! That is all.

 

Mat

 

I really liked Mat--much less witty word play, and much more awesome badassery. Loved the scene with Birgitte, and the taking out of the gholam was equally awesome, as was everything in ToG (poor eye!). About the only part I didn't like was his letter to Elayne. That was over-the-top gimmicky. A cheap laugh--and I did laugh--but one good for one read only. To be clear the idea is not a problem, it was the execution. Something like 'To Your Royal Majesty, stop being a royal pain in the backside and agree to a meeting, Mat.' would have been fine, very Mat... it was the crossing out, the witty wordplay--it was just too over-wrought.

 

Aviendha

 

Wow. Heavy. Gave me chills. Awesomely written. THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN!!!

 

Graendal

 

Didn't achieve much, did she? Aside from dodging epic balefire, I mean. I wonder how much of that Moridin intended--'he will escape you' and all. Still, she's my favourite Forsaken, so I'm hoping the hanky-panky with Shaidar Haren will bring her back to some degree of capability.

 

Olver

 

Creepy little bastard, isn't he. Budding sociopath in my opinion. Well played Brandon, well played.

 

Secondary Characters

 

In tGS a lot of secondary characters seemed to be set up to make the mains look better. Joline for Mat, Adelorna for Egwene, Merise for Rand. Not so in this book. Oh, Joline was still an ass, but that was because Joline is an ass as opposed to being so that Mat could slap her around. Yup, I loved the secondaries this time round. Awesome.

 

Conclusions

 

Loved this book. Not only is it a great addition to the series, it's an excellent lead up to the last book--perhaps especially because it messes up so many of my expectation on what's going to happen. It's going to be agony to wait to see what comes next. So i'll leave you all with some final thoughts of awesome...

 

• 13x13 Tarna – My heart broke and my skin crawled.

• Thor’s Cameo – Seriously. Badass with a hammers in town.

• Creepy Red Aiel Dudes – Like, this stuff ain’t meant for kids.

• Hopper – Awww... :-(

• Slayer – Die now. Die please. Just die. Thank you.

• TAR – Finally control of the dream IS shown to be better than channeling. I was really beginning to think that was a lie.

• Caemlyn – Lions and Trollocs and Bands of Red Hands! Holy FRACK!

• Elaynendred – Laughed out loud at the pink slippers.

• Galad and Berelain – sitting in a tree, K – I – S – S – I – N – G! Their babies will be beautiful.

• Gawyn – Anyone note were he picked up some awesome new bling?

• Elaida – JUST FRACKING DIE ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

• Nakomi – Hi. I’m Ver-Nakomi. Let me fix the whole world for you.

• Borderlanders – He shall stand before you. The Dragon. You shall spank him.

• Ok I’m done.

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great review luckers,

 

i agree with you, ToM is one of my favourite of the series, along with 6.

 

i am not much fussed about the whole typo issues either, we are all human at the end of the day and if we wanted a book without typo, we would have had to wait more.

 

perrin and galad, i certainly didnt expect to be on the way to becoming friends, but great indeed.

 

and nynaeve, only one word for her "AWESOME"

 

and now we are left waiting with some many cliffhangers at the end.

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I feel he truly missed was Cadsuane, and the vast majority of you think I'm delusional in my beliefs about her :-).

The majority of Dragonmounters, maybe. But I agree that Cadsuane became more like people always saw her under Brandon's hand, rather than how RJ saw her. That's a hard distinction to make for those who saw her the same way that Brandon did, but those of us who didn't hate Cadsuane before - we noticed the difference.

 

Egwene...Does that make her immediate assumption that Rand is wrong alright? No. It was still an assumption, made without any true understanding of his specific reasons, and with no consideration that he might HAVE specific reasons. But then on the reverse is that Rand made no attempt to convey his reasons to her to begin with. And she does have the wisdom to change her mind, we've seen this. Ultimately, I'd even go so far as to say that based on what she knows that she is right to prepare to stop it, but wrong in not considering the possibility of not stopping it.

I think that the burden goes on Rand's shoulders here, partly because he gave her a month to freak out about something that he intends to do regardless, and partly because of the way he told her, which made that apparent. Or was supposed to. When you announce that you're going to put the entire Pattern in danger, the least you can do is give some proper assurances as to why it won't be as bad as everyone thinks. But Rand only trivialized the danger, which (rightly, IMO) made Egwene even more scared. She did in fact suggest that they should talk about it - plan - but Rand was already on the way out the door. She even had a dream that indicated to her that it would be a mistake. She misinterpreted it, but that is beside the point.

 

I suppose what I'm worried about is something of a Richard Rahl syndrome--with never a wrong answer, and all the other characters sitting around him gazing at him with the appropriate degree of awe after having opposed him with flimsy arguments that he's easily torn apart.

I am disturbed by the number of people on the forums who seem so convinced that he is now perfect and can't make a mistake, and knows everything, and will never be troubled by the Shadow again. I mean...come on!

 

I dunno... maybe it's just me but I don't want a perfect hero, nor to read about Jesus's victory over the Dark One--though I'm certainly not saying he is that in Towers of Midnight--we frankly don't get to see enough of inside his head to know--I'm just concerned that we might. I'll say this also--having characters analyse Rand and decide he is still Rand didn't settle things for me. If anything it made me more inclined to notice discrepencies in his character.

I'm pretty sure that we still have the link with Moridin to deal with, which is what I think is what most people are missing in this book. He didn't get rid of Moridin on Dragonmount - he just accepted himself, overcame the effects that the taint and the True Power were having on his mind, and therefore cast off his dark aura. Moridin is still inside.

 

Aviendha

 

Wow. Heavy. Gave me chills. Awesomely written. THIS MUST NOT HAPPEN!!!

I agree. She ain't having no dark-haired babies unless they're Min's! :D

 

• Slayer – Die now. Die please. Just die. Thank you.

He still has to try to kill Rand in TAR after he dies. Perrin will kick his ass for good then.

 

• Gawyn – Anyone note were he picked up some awesome new bling?

If this has anything to do with 'to live you must die' I will scream. I would be okay with it having something to do with 'wrapping himself in white as though putting on his own shroud', though. So long as Nynaeve Heals him.

 

• Nakomi – Hi. I’m Ver-Nakomi. Let me fix the whole world for you.

She is awesome like that.

 

• Borderlanders – He shall stand before you. The Dragon. You shall spank him.

LOL.

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I'm curious as to what your thoughts on Elayne are. Personally I found her POV to be the hardest to read (again).

 

Elayne never really bothers me. She is overly mercantile, and I suspect Egwene will have something to say about the Kin--but thats it.

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well, I still think that Shadow Rising is the best book in the series, but this is right up there.

 

I'm not worried about Rand being the "guy who is always right, all the time" Sanderson doesn't have to try to imitate Ayn Rand, so he has that going for him - also, Rand is already making what I think are critical mistakes.

 

From what I can tell, ToM is a month of time for Rand - comes off the Mountain, talks to Egwene and tells her he's meeting in a month. End of the book, he arrives.

 

In that month, we see him kick ass on the borders, feed bandar eban, get slapped by the borderlanders, talk to Nynaeve and reunite with Aiel/Min/Dad. Maybe 5 days. In the other 25 days, not ONCE does he say "huh - the seanchan are still a threat and my good friend Mat knows the Empress, maybe I should check in and see what he thinks" He doesn't seem to try to move his armies, he doesn't stop in with Perrin and see what he's up to, he doesn't go deal with the Black Tower, he doesn't stop in at the White Tower again to confer with Egwene, he doesn't seem to really do anything strategic.

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I think I have to jump on the bandwagon of "the timing was bloody confusing". I have to wonder if RJ originally intended that we would never be quite certain how events related timewise or if it was just a side effect from the intricate story. This was one book in which I really would have appreciated each chapter/ POV switch had included a date stamp. If there's ever a massive collector's edition boxed set (with the ebook cover art please) released, I hope they throw in timeline annotations while they're at it.

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Mat

 

I really liked Mat--much less witty word play, and much more awesome badassery. Loved the scene with Birgitte, and the taking out of the gholam was equally awesome, as was everything in ToG (poor eye!). About the only part I didn't like was his letter to Elayne. That was over-the-top gimmicky. A cheap laugh--and I did laugh--but one good for one read only. To be clear the idea is not a problem, it was the execution. Something like 'To Your Royal Majesty, stop being a royal pain in the backside and agree to a meeting, Mat.' would have been fine, very Mat... it was the crossing out, the witty wordplay--it was just too over-wrought.

 

just wanted to comment on this, I haven't gotten my print copy yet, so i guess i can't really judge how it the letter to Elayne is presented there, but i have listened to the audiobook, and Kate Reading's delivery is nothing short of brilliant. She really has Mat's voice down. After hearing it I hopped onto this site and was genuinely shocked to see people saying they didn't like it. Take a listen if you get the chance, Sanderson's humor really shines with Kramer/Reading reading it. :biggrin:

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I'm curious as to what your thoughts on Elayne are. Personally I found her POV to be the hardest to read (again).

 

Elayne never really bothers me. She is overly mercantile, and I suspect Egwene will have something to say about the Kin--but thats it.

You forgot to mention our disappointment that she didn't take a bath =P

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• Gawyn – Anyone note were he picked up some awesome new bling?

If this has anything to do with 'to live you must die' I will scream. I would be okay with it having something to do with 'wrapping himself in white as though putting on his own shroud', though. So long as Nynaeve Heals him.

 

 

Pretty sure Luckers is referring to the ring ter'angreals of the Bloodknives...

 

I'm curoius if the warder bond will negate the negative side effects of those rings...

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• Gawyn – Anyone note were he picked up some awesome new bling?

If this has anything to do with 'to live you must die' I will scream. I would be okay with it having something to do with 'wrapping himself in white as though putting on his own shroud', though. So long as Nynaeve Heals him.

 

 

Pretty sure Luckers is referring to the ring ter'angreals of the Bloodknives...

Yes, I'm pretty sure he was too. Did you have a point? :biggrin:

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• Gawyn – Anyone note were he picked up some awesome new bling?

If this has anything to do with 'to live you must die' I will scream. I would be okay with it having something to do with 'wrapping himself in white as though putting on his own shroud', though. So long as Nynaeve Heals him.

 

 

Pretty sure Luckers is referring to the ring ter'angreals of the Bloodknives...

Yes, I'm pretty sure he was too. Did you have a point? :biggrin:

 

point being that your comment made no sense to me the first time I read it, hehe

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I think I have to jump on the bandwagon of "the timing was bloody confusing". I have to wonder if RJ originally intended that we would never be quite certain how events related timewise or if it was just a side effect from the intricate story. This was one book in which I really would have appreciated each chapter/ POV switch had included a date stamp. If there's ever a massive collector's edition boxed set (with the ebook cover art please) released, I hope they throw in timeline annotations while they're at it.

 

Regarding Lillcheese's comments on timeline my eyes started to cross specifically when thinking about Tam. We know Cadsuane had him brought to Tear and the confrontation with Rand we all know so well now but then I am guessing he goes back to Perin. The he meets with Rand again for a hug and I'm sorry dad for almost killing you and then he goes back to Perin? It was just hard to wrap my head around since Perin's plot line was so far behind Rands. I guess I wished Brandon had put a something small in there to let us know. Overall, I loved the book as a whole. So much more to think on now and over a year to wait... *Sigh*

 

- Steve

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Read King's Desperation and Bachman's The Regulators back to back. You'll never be confused by a book again.

heh. :myrddraal:

 

 

Good review, Luckers. I agree on most, disagree on some. I actually liked Cadsuane's portrayal more this time.

Yeah, this ain't for kids, is it? It's sometimes easy to forget that it never really has been.

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I liked Zen Rand. And i don't think there is any chance of him turning out like Richard Rahl.

 

Rand has no hand, Richard would of regrown it already with a peace of string and the excrement of the native night life while judging the limbless for not regrowing their own by now.

 

The way I see it Rand Sedai is just a lot older now, he has LTT memories fully integrated, he is LTT and Rand, so he really is quite old, hence more experienced, wiser hopefully and more patient.

 

Having 400+ years of memories on Tap will probably change you a fair bit, but I think his own memories are much stronger and that keeps him more or less the Rand we know personality wise.

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Oh and pardon my ignorance, but who is Richard Rahl?

Trust me, you don't want to know.

2nded

 

 

Anyhow, I agree about Cadsuane. I just never complain about it because I was only neutral on her before. She's pretty off, but I just can't care a lot.

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Whoops! That above post was actually me. I didn't realize that I was still logged in on my computer under Spencer's (from the 4th Age Podcast) account! Sorry Spencer!

 

He used my computer for the midnight release party last week, and I guess he never logged out.

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