I have noted that Sanderson is a better writer than Jordan, but this book made me miss Jordan. The clunkiness of the language, after so many books, had become part of it. I miss his weird tics.
For example, Mat Cauthon has a sort of black staff with a blade on the end. Most of us might call it a spear or a halberd or a pole arm or (if we’re a real medieval geek) a glaive. But not Robert Jordan. He creates all sorts of permutations of ‘knive’ or ‘blade’ and ‘staff.’ At the time, it just seemed weird. you wanted to say, ‘a long piece of wood with a pointy knife on the end… you mean a spear?’ But now that Sanderson is using phrases like ‘pole arm,’ well, I just feel a little sad.
The page bloat continues (Towers of Midnight coming in at just over 1200 pages), but Sanderson does appear to be doing his best to wrap things up, moving everyone into place for the final battle.
The most exciting bit was a supernatural rescue mission featuring the most interesting character in the series, by far, Mat. Jordan had a tendency to forget about him, but Sanderson seems more inclined to the reader (at least, this reader) what he or she wants. An almost Dungeons &Dragons-ish dungeon crawl mystery in a creepy tower (one of the two midnight-y towers of the title; I’m assuming the other is the so-called Black Tower, where a lot of male magic wielding types hang out and train and, it also seems, plot terrible evil) was the big ending set piece. A character who was a big part of the story early but who has been missing for a while was rescued. Which is cool, but with an almost George R.R. Martin size cast, frankly, after having not seen her for something like 5-7 books, I was okay with not bringing her into the mix. Plus, I don’t feel like Sanderson got her quite right.
But anyway… I’ll be going back to Anthony Powell’s novels of Britain between the wars before finally finishing up the Wheel of Time. I might throw a party for myself when I do finish the series. Fourteen books. That’s ridiculous.