Monday, 7 January 2013
Towers of Midnight - Summary
Towers of Midnight is the next to last book of the series, and sets up an epic character-driven confrontation before the Last Battle, bringing everyone tantalizingly close to working together. Almost every hero and heroine will be at Merrilor to stand for or against Rand’s plan to break the seals on the Dark One’s prison. The lead-up to this reunion pervades the book, driving several plots forward while the remaining sections allow characters to tidy up loose plot threads.
Perrin resolves rumours about his dalliance with Berelain, understands his nature as a Wolfbrother, defeats Slayer, and confronts his guilt over killing for the first time. Egwene beseeches Gawyn to obey her, yet finds treating him as a partner is the path that leads to his love, his bond, and saving the Tower. Elayne gains cannons, another throne, an army, and uncovers a plot to invade Andor. Mat dispatches the gholam, creates cannons, and enters the trickster realm of the Aelfinn and Eelfinn to rescue Moiraine, who still has a role to play. Lan grudgingly accepts help on his quest, then leads his people towards a final confrontation with the Shadow. Aviendha becomes a Wise One but learns of a fate far worse than death for her people unless they find new purpose. And Rand fears nothing, unperturbed by any events or threats, whether a circle of channelers or an army of Trollocs, for he can seemingly do anything.
All of the characters have now attained the summit of their power and influence in the world, ruling nations and people, just in time for the Last Battle. While the title Towers of Midnight refers to the Forsaken, they are squashed before the newfound might at the Heroes’ command.
Several aspects of the book echo events early in the series, particularly The Great Hunt, with Ingtar and Noal’s eerily similar self-sacrifice to save the heroes, Lanfear’s presence twisting at Rand’s heart, or Morgase returning to Caemlyn. Tel’aran’rhiod reappears with great importance, and both Perrin and Egwene learn how to use it to its fullest potential. The Seanchan prepare their boldest invasion yet. It stands to reason that the author put the key elements in the story early on, and as the end approaches those elements resurface.
The last remaining unfinished plot lines in Towers of Midnight will present some of the most insurmountable difficulties yet. Setting up the dire circumstances surrounding each of these was an important part of this book. The Black Tower stands impenetrable as Taim secures his stronghold, turning its inhabitants to his side one by one. The Seanchan remain unwilling to bend until Rand serves them. The Malkieri charge to their doom, alone.
Many of the early books had a magic item that acted as the focus of the story. The Eye of the World, the Horn of Valere, Callandor. Later books got away from this, but a new ter’angreal is introduced here. The dreamspike is a powerful tool, and one of them remains in the hands of the villains.
Also reintroduced is Dark Prophecy, last seen staining the walls of a cell in Fal Dara, now promising the death of Perrin before Rand is defeated. There seems no reason why these dark prophecies would be any less accurate than Min’s viewings or Egwene’s dreams or Elaida’s Foretelling. With strong allies and more personal power than ever before, the Heroes are more ready than ever to face a challenge head-on, but those foreboding elements are a reminder that there will be a price to pay for victory.
Aviendha’s future visions once again make the dire outcome of the Heroes’ decisions personal, affecting their descendents personally, and tying their future to the chain of cultural duty and responsibility stretching three millennia into the past. No matter how epic in scope the story gets, the authors bring it back to a personal level.
Obstacles must remain challenging, no matter how powerful the characters are.