Review: Towers of Midnight, the thirteenth book in The Wheel of Time, sets the stage for the final book, positioning our main characters to provide support at Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, where Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, and Shai’tan (the Dark One) will battle for the fate of the world.
A newly enlightened Rand, begins to bounce around the world, visiting leaders of countries after first stopping in Tar Valon to address the Amyrlin Seat, telling them Tarmon Gai’don is fast approaching and that he plans to break the remaining seals on the Dark One’s prison in order to properly re-seal him away. Rand also begins making peace with a number of people with whom he’d had falling outs, apologizing for his past behavior, including his ‘father’, Tam al’Thor, and Cadsuane Sedai, whom he allows back into his presence.
Having cleansed the White Tower of the Black Ajah, Egwene al’Vere begins to hunt Mesaana, the Forsaken who’s taken up residence in the tower, who she also believes is responsible for the murders of sisters. During this time, she also has to deal with Gawyn Trakand –her feelings for him vs. his inability to respect her authority as Amyrlin. Eventually, they each save each other, he becomes her warder, and they agree to marry.
Perrin Aybarra and Faile manage to overcome the uncomfortableness between them that came about due to Faile’s captivity by the Shaido. After a pivotal fight with “Slayer” in the wolf dream, Perrin comes to a balance with his inner wolf which also leads to realization that, like it or not, he’s Lord Perrin. The latest addition to his sizable army is the Children of the Light, led by Galad Damodred. Before arriving in Caemlyn, Perrin marries Morgase Trakand and Martyn Tallanvor.
Matrim Cathoun leads his Band to Caemlyn, where he and Thom are reunited with the new Queen, Elayne Trakand. Mat deals with Elayne to work for Andor in exchange for the use of the “Dragons” Aludra has designed. Mat manages to defeat the gholam with the help of a couple copies (created by Elayne) of his foxhead medallion. Mat, Thom, and Noal head off to the Tower of Ghenjei, where they rescue a severely drained Moraine for a price: the life of Noal and ‘half the light of the world’ from Mat. Once rescued, Moiraine and Thom agree to marry.
The Wise Ones finally allow Aviendha to journey to Rhuidean for the final test to become a Wise One. During her test, she sees a troubling future. Although it indicates the Dragon Reborn has triumphed over the Dark One, it shows a very bleak end for the Aiel.
Something is going on in the Black Tower, as well. No one has seen Logain in a while and the rift between those loyal to him and those loyal to Taim is growing. Gateways out of the Black Tower have stopped working and, combined with the Asha’man-manned guard towers on the gate, those inside are effectively trapped.
As one part of the end of this book, al’Lan Mandragoran sounds the charge of his twelve thousand-troop army through Tarwin’s Gap into the Dark One’s hundred and fifty thousand strong horde…and one other who’d disappeared shows back up in Rand’s dream the night before his address to the gathered nations.
Bottom Line: Another great job by Brandon Sanderson filling in for Robert Jordan. All of the plot lines are converging nicely, the battle scenes are tight and gripping, and, while we know what’s coming, we still can’t be sure who’s going to be on who’s side, where the Forsaken are going to show up, whether the Light or the Shadow will prevail, and, perhaps most importantly, which of our favorite characters will survive.