TOWERS OF MIDNIGHT update

Okay, so I'm about 2/3 into Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Towers of Midnight (Canada, USA, Europe). But you should know by now that there is an embargo on reviews, so I won't get to post mine until November 2nd.

Still, since many of you have been bugging me with emails and PMs on Facebook and various message boards, here's a little update that will either annoy you or whet your appetite. . .

First of all, regarding the title, there has been no sign of the Seanchan thus far. Hopefully that will change, for I was hoping to see some progress concerning that plotline and how it would affect the rest of the world with the coming of Tarmon Gai'don.

Because the last battle has officially begun, folks. The invasion of the Borderlands has finally started, and Rodel Ituralde POV provides front row seats to the main event!

Stylistically, Towers of Midnight is quite different from The Gathering Storm. You'll recall that Sanderson didn't attempt to imitate Jordan's style in TGS, but instead he tried to adapt his own writing style to The Wheel of Time. On the other hand, ToM is told in Brandon Sanderson's own narrative voice. Which, unfortunately, doesn't always work well. Hence, for better or worse, Towers of Midnight reads more like The Way of Kings than The Gathering Storm.

Structurally, ToM reads much like its predecessor. Meaning that, in my opinion, there are some cool and very important scenes we've been waiting for years to see happen. Yet in order to get to the good stuff, one is required to sift through a lot of extraneous plotlines or scenes that don't always have that much of an impact or influence on the principal story arcs of the series. The Last Battle has begun, damn it!

Insofar as I have read, it's pretty much Perrin's book. Which, as you well know, doesn't quite do it for me. And yes, more Faile. . .

You will be happy to learn that Mat is not off the way he was in TGS. Sanderson doesn't try so hard to be funny all the time, so Mat is no longer an issue for me. It's not the original Mat, but it works for me. And Jordan wrote most of what is probably the Tower of Ghenjei sequence prior to his death, so we have a lot to look forward to, methinks!

Sadly, I feel that you can add Lan to the list of characters that Sanderson has trouble with. I have to tell you that my eyes actually watered when I discovered what Nynaeve had done to him in Knife of Dreams. This had been foreshadowed since The Eye of the World, after all. But now that the end game of that plotline is within reach, I'm not feeling it at all. . . =(

Egwene's characterization is uneven in ToM. I felt he got her right in TGS, but in this second volume she goes from high school drama queen to a cool, manipulative leader, and you never know who you'll get. The same thing can be said of Elayne, who sometimes sounds more and more like Naynaeve. Sanderson has an easier time with Galad and Perrin, not surprisingly.

I've always felt that Brandon Sanderson can't quite manage shades of grey all that well. The same goes for emotional scenes or sequences that are meant to convey strong emotional impact. It's still the case in ToM, but the author did surprise me a few times. That's a good thing!

The pace, however, remains an issue. As was the case in TGS, the rhythm is sluggish in certain portions of the novel, yet extremely rushed in other sequences. I was a bit dismayed by the fact that the narrative focus can remain on what I consider secondary plotlines or unnecessary details for pages and even chapters, and then rush through scenes that we've been waiting for for well over a decade. I think it's now obvious that A Memory of Light should have been split into two volumes instead of three. Too much filler material sort of take the power away from the killer stuff. And believe you me: There is some killer material in there! =)

Still, Tarmon Gai'don is underway, yet the narrative (thus far, anyway) doesn't convey that sense of doom, of urgency.

But in the end, though some scenes/characters feel off and the pace is too slow for my taste, so far everything more or less works. And no, no sign yet of Asmodean's killer!!!

Only two more weeks before the book hits the shelves of bookstores everywhere! ;-)

There you have it! Now stop bugging me! :P

48 commentaires:

Aidan Moher said...

Phew. I was worried you'd break embargo there for a moment, Pat.

...

Neth said...

hmmm...so Tor's request to hold off this sort of thing doesn't apply?

Anonymous said...

Do you somehow think that embargo does not mean you?????? What a nonsense.

Dream Girlzzz said...

Guys,

More has been revealed on MBs by a lot of folks, Larry and Pat included!

I'm checking out Westeros 2 or 3 times a day just for that!

Anonymous said...

For fuck's sake people! There are spoilers available on westeros, theoryland, and many other message boards. I'm following everything many times a day.

Pat's thoughts contain one single spoiler: the invasion of the Borderlands. Duh! It's the Last Battle, what a surprise!

This isn't a review after all so stop bitching.

James

Anonymous said...

ugh...i dont know about this.

here is my pronlem with brandon 'old-school, black vs. white, sanderson. i dont mind a fantasy that is completly old school nowadays, but that fact that brandon writes these over and over(almost in succesion), that i cant help but think that brandon is oh so desperatly wanting to bring the 80's era of bad fantasy back. it's like come on, you already written like 10 of those already. he should just WRITE SOMETHING ELSE(unless he wants to be known as 'the magic guy' for the rest of his life).

Ryan said...

I'm pretty excited about this TOM -- it's supposedly heavy with Mat. Having said that, I think BS really struggles with Mat's voice.

Whatever. First, I have to get permission from my wife to read TOM. I actually read TGS during the week of our wedding. I'm not sure she'll ever forgive me...

Wise Bass said...

And yes, more Faile. . .

Damn it, no!

More seriously, I am looking forward to this book. I like most of Sanderson's writing style.

I'm particularly curious as to how the Tower (and Rand) are going to react to a certain important event involving the White Tower in TGS as ToM plays out.

Anonymous said...

The issue isn't that more isn't available if you search for it. The issue is that Pat is essentially writing a review of the book but disguising it as a reading update. He gets a leg up on everyone else and pretends he's following the embargo on reviews. It's not unfair to readers, but it is unfair to other reviewers and to Tor.

Anonymous said...

Anon: This ain't a review! Come on! This is so damn ridiculous! If that's the kind of stupid shit he must put up with on a daily basis, is it any wonder the guy is considering retiring???

Have you made your decision pat, by the way? I would hate to see you go.

William

Amanda said...

Anonymous, threads on GRRM's Westeros and Theoryland reveal much more and I'm thinking they rack up a lot more traffic than Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. No offense Pat...

You should know that little bitch Aidan is moaning and crying foul on twitter.

Wasn't there an embargo for Sanderson's Way of Kings and Werthead had a review up weeks before anyone else?? Pat just let us know some of his thoughts on the book, making it clear that he has yet to finish ToM. That's no review. Don't know about you guys, but I'm even more excited now!;)

Ken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The fact is that Pat seems to think he is somehow better than all the other reviewers that received very early copies of ToM. Larry the same. They were asked to hold off on publishing spoilers til 2nd Nov. Neither has managed to resist basically going 'I have the book and you don't, na na na na na.'

Joe Sherry said...

Pat, you're being a dick.

Seriously.

What does the word "embargo" mean to you, anyway?

That's not "a little update" (which is completely unnecessary, anyway), it's a partial review of a book you haven't finished yet.

I think you're being extremely discourteous and unprofessional here.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Tor will mind, All publicity is good publicity :)

Robert said...

Stop being pedantic wankers, all of you! Embargo means no review until a certain date for fear that major spoilers will be revealed.

What Larry and Pat have done doesn't qualify as not respecting the embargo. They're just posting some thoughts on how they feel. Truth to tell, it just helps whet our appetite for the damn book!

It's not their fault other bloggers are too pussy to do the same. I believe that those same pussies are unhappy because both Pat and Larry are men enough to go on record and say that some things are off or don't necessarily work well. And that gets fanatics angry.

I don't see what the fuss is all about. Both claim that the book is good. Jealousy... :/

Anonymous said...

I agree with the last anonymous. Wouldn't be surprised if Pat has Tor's blessing in fact.

What has people been doing since yesterday? Talk about ToM! And not because the audio chapter came out!

Anonymous said...

Kind of agree here.

On the current front page of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist, 7 of the 13 posts are about Tor books.

Pat has always been a good friend for Tor.

Suzanne

Anonymous said...

... brandon is oh so desperatly wanting to bring the 80's era of bad fantasy back...

Some of us are happy about some of that, When Fantasy got dark, vulgar and gritty Many of us long time fantasy readers Lost interest.
I find that Brandon has accomplished writting well telling a good story while being able to leave out some of the newer slash and swear trends, besides WOT IS a an 90's series! He has stayed true to Jordan by not adopting a newer style.

David Selig said...

Roughly how much of the book is about Perrin? 40%? 50%? Less (hopefully)?

The mention that "it's pretty much Perrin's book" feels me with dread...

Simon said...

Pat isn't being a 'man' other bloggers aren't being 'pussies'.

He's being ill mannered they aren't. I'm sure I read somewhere that Pat was thinking of packing the blog in, perhaps this is one way of doing it.

Anonymous said...

After reading Way of the Kings, I thought Pat was a little too generous and complimentary in his review of the book.

I was excited to read Towers of Midnight, but after reading Way of the Kings and Pat's observations of Towers of Midnight, I am not so sure.

Keep on doing what your doing, Pat. Really enjoy your website. Thanks for the all the great stuff.

Cathy said...

Pat: According to some people at Theoryland, you're a very negative person.

So I guess not everyone knows just how much a fanboy you can be!!!:p

Anonymous said...

Dude, people are saying that you and Larry should be punished, bla bla bla.

Apparently ethics and you guys don't mix...:D

You gotta love the blogosphere!;) Just goes to prove that you gotta stay and not retire! We need you!

Nathan

Zachary Paul said...

Yet in order to get to the good stuff, one is required to sift through a lot of extraneous plotlines or scenes that don't always have that much of an impact or influence on the principal story arcs of the series

But, you know, I don't really see how this is any different from any of the 11 books Robert Jordan authored.

On another note, I've recently listened through all the Wheel of Time books the last couple months and I have to say that I think Pat really over-exaggerates the extent to which the character voices are "off" in Sanderson's writing. Especially Mat's. Other than his initial rant to Talmanes which was a bit on the nose, he seemed very very familiar in The Gathering Storm.

Anonymous said...

Jesus fucking Christ Pat, are you like the Godfather of fantasy bloggers or something??? Do people who disagree with you end up in the bottom of the river with concrete shoes???

You're being pissed on in this post but not one people has the balls to name you! Read it here: http://floor-to-ceiling-books.blogspot.com/2010/10/embargo.html

Chris

Kim said...

So much jealousy... So much hate... For a non-review with only one non-spoiler: the Borderlands are being invaded. Yeah, never saw that one coming! Pat caused so much harm and he deserves to be punished. Yeah right!

Idiots...

Neth said...

If Pat got the same treatment as I believe everyone did, he agreed to hold his reviews and content (no matter how big a spoiler) until Nov. 2nd. The 'spoilers' revealed by Pat and Larry at Westeros and other places also go against what Tor asked as did this blog post. Perhaps I'm old fashioned, but I get annoyed when I see people break rules that I play by. The early 'reviews' that have been published at places like Tor, Theoryland and Dragonmount were all vetted and approved for early publication by Harriet. I'm guessing Pat did not go through this process.

If I were the publicist at Tor who sent Pat a copy of this book based on his ascertian that he wouldn't do this sort of thing until the books release, I'd be pissed right now. Hopefully the guy's boss didn't chew him out for it.

A couple other comments about other misunderstandings here:

-this blog actually gets much traffic than a single thread on a message board like Westeros or Theoryland (at least I believe so, but I don't have access to the numbers)

-there was no such request to hold reviews for Way of Kings other than the general preference of publishers to hold until a week or two prior to release or release day.

Anonymous said...

Neth i guess somebody hacked your westeros account ? or do you just get righteous when it involves WoT and kissing publisher ass

http://asoiaf.westeros.org/index.php/topic/38417-the-heroes/page__view__findpost__p__2243411

Jebus said...

Personally I don't really give a shit either way but I'll weigh in with my misinformed and all important internet opinion anyway:

1. Pat you're being a bit of a dick if you agreed on the embargo. But then again you're good at it so whatever. This ain't an official full review but it still reviews/spoils some of the book.

2. I still don't quite understand why Tor would bother with an embargo anyway - it comes out in only a couple weeks and anyone that reads reviews of it online is still going to buy it or not buy it based on if they've read or not read the previous books. So I'm guessing this is purely so spoilers aren't released and all I can really say to that is caveat emptor - if you read a review before the book comes out and complain that it reveals too much then you're a whiny idiot.

There we go, the internet now contains my wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Update: 9 out of 15 posts on the frontpage are about Tor books.

I don't think it's in the publisher's best interest to chastise Pat in any way. Especially when the only people crying foul are jealous bloggers. Those and the fans who can't abide a more objective outlook towards the book itself...

Marty

Neth said...

@anon,

I'm struggling to figure out why the post at westeros you link has any relevence here. WOT books are an exception - out of the hundreds of books I've received only a few (less than 5) have ever had been sent based on me agreeing to something ahead of time. Most books get set, publishers may have a preference of how stuff around them gets out, but they really don't care that much. WOT books are different, they are high profile and late in a series. The fans really care about spoilers and perhaps more importantly, the creators (Tor, Sanderson, Team Jordan) also really care about spoilers and don't want these information getting out in advance. Especially now days with the internet, message boards and blogs like this one and my own.

What bothers me is dishonesty. I can't say for sure, but I'm fairly certain that Pat agreed in advance not to do this sort of thing and he did anyway. In the very least that's disrespctful.

Now all of these side discussion that have jumped up on the ethics of receiving advance copies and all don't particulalry interest me. I think this has officially been blown out of porportion and the sooner that everyone forgets about all this, the better (and I predict it will be largely forgotten very quickly as these things usually are).

Pat's silence in this is curious, though probably the way to go. I think it's time for me to shut up about it, move on, and read some books.

Dream Girlzzz said...

Wow! Just read Amanda's blog post and the comments it received and I'm left speechless.

Pat's Fantasy Hotlist should be shunned and the despicable blogger responsible for this heinous post should be punished. What a fucking crock of shit!!!

You'd think he raped someone!

Patrick said...

Hmmm, this has turned into yet another internet tempest in a teacup...

Sorry to have missed all the fun yesterday, but I just found out that I may have to move before January 1st. This was totally unexpected, so it's a real bitch and thus I have bigger fish to fry than commenting on the apparent jealousy of some of my fellow bloggers.

Right off the bat, I'd like to point out the blatant hypocrisy of many of the parties involved. If I'd claimed that ToM was as good as LoC or TSR with an ending that could potentially be an absolute mindfuck, no one would have thrown a stone my way. The only reason some people got riled up is because Larry and I were honest enough to say that, though everything works so far, some things are a bit off. It's the lukewarm aspect of some of our thoughts that got this ball rolling...

Secondly, as it is habitually the case when there is an embargo, the confirmation email I received to let me know that finished copies were available requested that I hold off my review till November 2nd. It was the same with TGS and TWoK. Still have the mail, and there is no mention of holding off ANYTHING that has to do with ToM.

This post doesn't constitute a review. Those are my early thoughts regarding ToM, with the only spoiler being what's happening in the Borderlands. I've been doing this for nearly 6 years now, and publishers have NEVER requested that I hold off ALL CONTENT pertaining to a title. They wish to prevent major spoilers, so they'd rather we wait to post reviews. Quite understandable, really.

Now Ken, you know I like you and I don't want to put words into your mouth. But I'm fairly certain that you were part of the extensive pre-TGS discussions that we had going on Westeros and/or sffworld.com last year. We were all breaking the all-emcompassing embargo law, it seems. And giving away a lot more information than this little post of mine, I may add... And we did the same with TWoK a few weeks back. And as far as I know, Larry, you, myself, and everyone involved didn't spoil the books for anyone. So I'm wondering what the fuss is all about, no question.

All we have here is a couple of disgruntled SFF bloggers who are frustrated because they don't agree with my assessment of the first 2/3 of ToM. Discussing themes, characters, events, etc, even if a title is embargoed, has been done for years on MBs, chats, Facebook, blogs, etc. So if some people want to make me look like the bad guy, then by all means do so. But they are likely guilty of the very same accusations they are throwing my way.

Also, concerning Amanda's post, I'm a bit disturbed by everything. Not one person mentioned me by name. WTF??? Do I strike fear in the hearts of people to such a degree??? Christ, I know that some of you thought that I look like MMA fighter George St-Pierre when pics of me first appeared on the Hotlist, but come on! I'm not going to kill anyone. Sure, I'd love to get my hands on certain individuals from time time to time and throw a couple of haymakers to knock some sense into them. But ask anyone who has met me in person and they'll tell you I'm a friendly guy.

Some people claimed that a post like this makes bloggers as a whole look bad. I opine that it's little shit storms and mudslinging that undermines the SFF blogosphere as an entity, not the fact that I believe Brandon Sanderson didn't quite get Lan...

Now if you'll excuse me, I'll go looking for another apartment and then read a little more of ToM. I'd tell you that the ending looks like it could be the shit, but I wouldn't want to break the rules by telling you that it's shaping up to be a great finale...

Adam Whitehead said...

I can tell this is going to be a topic for discussion at the party tonight ;-)

My take is that if Tor specifically asked you not to post an early review (and obviously if anything was signed, which is not the case here it appears) then this may not have been the best idea. If they just asked you not to post spoilers, then that appears to remain covered as the Trolloc invasion of the Borderlands and Rodel Ituralde being on the front lines was something alluded to in earlier reviews from the fansites. And it is something that we knew was coming from earlier novels.

Beyond that, I think 'embargoes' are a step too far in the publisher/reviewer (whether magazine or blogger) relationship, as it turns reviewers too much into puppets of the marketing department. In this particular case, with what will be the biggest-selling fantasy novel of the year and the 13th in a series of 14 which has millions of readers around the world, the notion that people will abandon the series now based on two middling early impressions, is a pretty far stretch. Especially since, if last year was any basis, copies of ToM will likely be appearing on the shelves next week anyway.

Neth said...

Pat, my memory is a bit fuzzy, but I know I didn't finish TGS in time for much advance discussion and I know if I had I would have avoided the spoiler stuff. Generally I avoid any WOT discussion just prior to a book release (and pretty much have done so for the last 4 or 5 book releases). This has been a bit of an exception even though I haven't participated much.


Good luck with the move. Hopefully the new place will turn out to be nice and in retrospect the move a great thing.

Anonymous said...

Pat makes a good point. I did follow all the pre-The Gathering Storm and pre-The Way of Kings discussions on various message boards. Bloggers were giving some things away, but I don't remember anyone getting angry about breaking the rules of a supposed embargo.

The Way of Kings thread is still on Westeros and SFFWORLD.COM, if anyone wants to check, and if we go back a few months I'm sure we'd find the pertinent The Gathering Storms thread. I wonder why Aidan didn't bitch about them, as everyone involved WAS breaking the rules by discussing the content of both books.

That Floor to Ceiling Books post is something else. You'd think that the person that wrote it never visits message boards and the like. Content is being discussed all the time. As long as spoilers are not disclosed, I think that publishers are ok with that. So I don't understand what the big fuss is all about.

Emilie

Jacob said...

It's hard for me to give any credence to this when anyone following them on Twitter knows that both Aidan and Amanda hate Pat and his blog.

So they're just using this opportunity to throw shit his way, all the while hoping that the publisher will somehow punish him for doing something he's always done.

If they were in jail, Aidan would be Pat's bitch.

Anonymous said...

Because of the “spoiler-y” nature of these books, I do have to add that I’m only allowed to send out early review copies upon soliciting a promise that no reviews/content will be published prior to the November 2nd publication date. Anything you’d like to put up can go live as of midnight that day. :)

I've been doing this for nearly 6 years now, and publishers have NEVER requested that I hold off ALL CONTENT pertaining to a title.

One of these things is not like the other.

Anonymous said...

embargo means embargo, doesn't it? All the ridiculous arguments aside - Tor sent Pat the book with the agreement that he would avoid posting content or a review until the publication date. That means Pat decided that he didn't feel like following the agreement. Oh, wait, can I now claim this isn't really a "comment"? You discuss the book, what happens, certain story aspects, and the writing - sorry, that's a review. Sure, its incomplete and without thorough analysis, but just because its a mediocre review, doesn't mean it somehow "doesn't count". Ridiculous.

Nick said...

While I don't really give two shits about all the fuss and probably won't even read the book anyways, Pat's post can most certainly be viewed as a review, partial or not. Length-wise it's comparable to many of his other reviews and longer than some.

If it looks like a duck...

peter said...

I have no desire to read the words of an admitted liar. Time to move on. Any statement that begins with "I did it but..." automatically disqualifies anything that follows.

Larry said...

While I think this is more specific in some areas than what several would want (not to mention that it's longer than several of your previous reviews), I'm more curious about whether or not you will post something like this in advance in the future based on some of the outcry you (and me, to some extent, it seems) have received here, Pat.

I've criticized certain things you've done, but it seems, based on your comments at Genre Reader, that things are not as black/white as it first appeared. Ever thought about just doing what Ebert and other movie critics do and not accept anything in advance in order to have any praises/condemnations to be viewed as being more "independent"? There's something liberating about that thought at times like these...

amysrevenge said...

Shades of grey, anyone?

As a fan and admirer of Pat's, I think that this blog post is worthy of a mild rebuke. Probably a bit in poor taste, but not worth cries for vengeance.

I'd have preferred no posting at all until Nov 2 myself, other than possibly a "neener neener I have it and you don't" sort of gloat :P

Anonymous said...

It'd be nice if Pat would admit to going over the line here. I was very disappointed to accidentally read this non-review before reading the book.

John Ottinger said...

Pat, since you did receive such a vague email then I owe you an apology. You maybe pushed the boundaries a bit too far, but you were not wrong enough for "shunning".

Anonymous said...

I just read this entire thread so I figure I can reward myself with an indulgently long post.

Does Pat's post constitute a review and did it contain spoilers? Most definitely, even if it is only for the first 2/3 of the book.

Am I going to jump all over the guy for it? Hell no. Firstly, I came to this site hoping for exactly the kind of specific detail that was provided. Secondly, and more importantly, the whole embargo situation is absolutely ridiculous. If Brandon and Team Jordan don't feel that Towers of Midnight can withstand a little advance scrutiny, they should keep working on it until it is in better shape. This is what you see with really bad Hollywood movies - a communications blackout so they can sucker people into seeing it before the bad reviews gain momentum. WoT is better than that.

After hearing that this is Perrin's book, I am seriously worried. The last time Perrin's storyline interested me was the Shadow Rising. Since then, his sequences have been inconsequential tedium. On the positive side, I wasn't as into the Rand sequences the last few books, and Brandon found a way to make his character downright riveting. Maybe he can do the same for Perrin.

Fingers crossed ....

--Nick

Anonymous said...

Seriously y'all - if you didn't want to read Pat's review, then don't read it. I don't get why y'all are such negative nancy's!