Spoiler Check: I have completed Wheel of Time series, Book 13 – “Towers of Midnight”
To paraphrase Brandon Sanderson, I have chewed up my buffer. This is the first time I have completed a Wheel of Time book and not been able to go straight to the Audible website and download the next in the series. I am now in the same boat as every other WoT fan, or at least every fan who started reading the books more than a couple of years or so ago. I now know what it is to have to wait for the next book to come out, in the full knowledge that it will be months and months. According to Sanderson, we can expect A Memory of Light around March 2012 so it will be gestating for about another 9 months.
On the plus side, I’m now as clued up about what happens in the series as any other fan. I am finally safe from the risk of spoilers and can dive into forum discussions or explore fan websites with impunity.
ToM was not quite as strong as its predecessor, The Gathering Storm (TGS). But it was still a gripping book. Maybe it was a bit slow to get going and a tad short on heart-stopping shocker revelations, the principal story arcs, focusing on Perrin and Mat respectively, covering the ground we already knew had to be covered from many books ago. For example, we knew Mat and companions were going to visit the Aelfinn & Eelfinn to rescue Moiraine, and it had been obvious from Mat’s previous visit that his price for success would be to lose “half the light of the world”. There has never been any mystery about what that entailed.
I found the whole Aelfinn & Eelfinn sequence very reminiscent of playing Dungeons & Dragons in my university days. A party enters an unknown domain (or only partly known domain) with a set of distinct rooms to explore, to carry out a mission or recover “treasure”. Each room has its own specific features or contains particular objects or creatures, and the party will be faced with problems to solve. Someone in the party invariably tries to make a map so they can find their way around. Noal Charin (Jain Farstrider) tried it but failed because the connections between rooms did not remain fixed, but I’ve known dungeon masters play tricks like that before to confuse the party. And the party encounter dangers and enter into fights with assorted “baddies”, often with the aid of magic objects and suchlike. I don’t know if the D & D feel was intentional on Sanderson’s part or simply a consequence of the story line. I don’t recall having such an impression from visits to the Aelfinn & Eelfinn domain in previous books. Possibly Brandon is a D & D fan (as are many fans of fantasy books) and wanted to pay some kind of homage to afficionados of role-playing games.
Elsewhere, the demise of Perrin’s lupine friend was sad (in a strange way since the latter had been dead since Book 1) but the strongest and most disturbing part of ToM by far for me was the Rhuidean sequence where Aviendha gets a taste of what the world will be like (or might be like) in the years after Rand’s visit to Shayol Ghul. But more on that in my next post.Follow @denniswright