The Last Battle approaches. While The Gathering Storm primarily tidied up loose ends that Robert Jordan left open in the previous book, Towers of Midnight is a sort of interim novel that sets everything up for the grand conclusion in the upcoming fourteenth installment.

At long last, Rand is finally himself again. We got a glimpse of his character returning to his previous sanity at the very end of The Gathering Storm, but in Towers, we finally get a chance to see him in full Dragon Reborn mode. He finally realized that he is Lews Therin, and that Lews Therin was Rand al’Thor. Now, armed with the memories of his previous life, he is on a level playing field with the Forsaken…only his skill in the Power is far greater.

Matrim Cauthon is his usual amusing self, dodging Gholam or Eelfinn one minute and insulting Queen Elayne the next. The scenes set at the Tower of Ghenjei were good, though a large price was paid in the heroes’ bargain with the Eelfinn and Aelfinn. Mat got his dramatic exit, though, as they fled the tower.

Remember Avienda? The last we saw of her, she was beginning a long journey back to Rhuidean to complete her training as a Wise One. Instead of seeing the usual story about the Aiel people branching off from the Tuatha’an, she sees a glimpse of a possible future after the Last Battle…a possible future that is, shall we say, less than optimal. I assume that her role in A Memory of Light will be fairly major.

Once again, Brandon Sanderson has masterfully executed the latest Wheel of Time novel. The characters are spot on, and the plot moves at a pace that makes it difficult to put the book down for the night. The scenes with Rand, Mat or Avienda are the best ones in the book. Whether it’s finally seeing the real Dragon, the epic battle between Snakes and Foxes and Luck, or a shocking glimpse at a possible future that would best be avoided.

“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come to pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past…”