Book Review – The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time book 12)
I finished The Gathering Storm by Brandon Sanderson/Robert Jordan late last night, or more accurately around 5am this morning. The Gathering Storm is book 12 of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, who passed away before he was able to finish the series. Sanderson was chosen by Jordan’s editor, (and wife) Harriet McDougal, to finish the series based on extensive notes and conversations Jordan had had with family about the series.
I absolutely loved it. I think Sanderson did an incredible job – I’d rate it as one of the top books of the series so far, up there with books 4/5/6 which were my favourites. I’d give it an 8 or 9 out of 10.
His writing style is definitely different than Jordan’s. For me, with apologies to the hardcore Jordan fans, it’s a marked improvement. He takes 500 words to say what Jordan might have said in 1000. That’s not to say that it’s staccato or not descriptive, he paints great pictures with his words. I just didn’t find myself getting frustrated with over-wordiness and lack of progress which I got sometimes with Jordan.
In terms of the plot, it certainly made progress. This was not Crossroads of Twilight (book 10), my least favourite of the series, where almost nothing of significance occurs. (I can summarise that book in 7 words – see footnote*). Loads happens in TGS and we finally see the climax of some plotlines that we’ve been waiting tens of thousands of pages for. I don’t know how much plot Sanderson is responsible for, and how much Jordan’s notes drive what happens, but there are some great bits in there which I’ll go into in the spoiler section below.
And that’s about that for the review. I know it won’t influence your decision to buy or not to buy this book – if you’re a WOT fan and you’ve invested in reading the first 11 then you’ll buy it – if not, then you probably won’t.
If, out of well-placed fear of Jordan dying before the end, and you’ve been waiting for the end of the series before starting, then I think you’re safe enough to invest yourself now. Sanderson is definitely good enough to take over the mantel.
I’ll have to enter spoiler territory now – if you haven’t completely read books 1-12 including this book (The Gathering Storm), then read no further down. If you ruin it on yourself, don’t come crying to me.
The plot has some brilliant twists and shocks:
- The Verin twist was just incredibly good, my favourite thing in the whole book. She was always one of my favourite Aes Sedai characters, and characters in general (given how annoying they are as a general rule, that’s saying a lot). I have some questions about her original action in binding herself to that movement – here’s no way she could have known before doing it it that there was a get-out clause in the Oath, and she could have been stuck unable to clear herself at the end.
- I really don’t like Fortuna as a name – it sucks.
- I know Rand had to eventually meet his father again at some point (we’ve been waiting *books* for that to happen). It went pretty much as I expected, sadly. But what a great job of his father standing up to the Aes Sedai bully afterwards – nicely done sir! She’s been annoying the hell out of me for ages now. As for Rand heading off to the mountain, finally he’s taken some time to think about things properly. Is Lews Therin gone now for good though by being absorbed into him? Interesting to see what happens in the next book on this!
- I was disappointed in the meeting at Falme, I thought that could have worked out positively. That could have been a massive mistake on the part of Tuon. She very nearly got Ebou Dar ripped apart by Rand – so close! And I don’t think it would have been a bad thing if he had done so – he needs to consolidate force and start fighting the dark. If the Seanchan won’t come peacefully… as my favourite moronic idiot once said “You’re either with us, or against us. Now where’s that pretzel gotten to?”
- I thought Rand could have done much more to help when all the food spoiled in the city – like evacuated *everyone*. Maybe just emphasising his coldness and lack of emotion, but for me it was pretty poor from the Dragon Reborn.
All in all, I think I have to give it 9/10 for both plotlines and writing style – well done all involved!
* My 7-word summary of book 10? “Egwene moves army to Tar Valon, gets captured” – you can finish book 9 and start book 11 quite comfortably there (I’m counting TV as one word, sue me).
I just love this review of CoT :)