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Larry.

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, The Gathering Storm

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Just posted this on my blog (full review on release date, with much more specific information):

Going to be writing a formal review of this on the 27th that will be quite a bit more substantive than this, with quite a bit of discussion of thematic elements, characterization issues, plot development, how well Brandon Sanderson managed to integrate his writing style with the WoT story, and so forth. I think it'll be an interesting review, but sadly, some will only want to know things that I won't reveal until after the 27th, since I did agree to not give out spoilers until after the release date.

However, I will note that my general impressions differ in several regards from those seen over here at Pat's blog, for example. Pat, it seems (based on general impressions of having read several dozen of his reviews over the past four years) prefers more plot-based development. I, on the other hand, prefer to focus on thematic development and prose. Therefore, there have been several times that he and I have differed quite a bit in our interpretations of stories. Figures that this would be the case here.

I will note that there is more of an emphasis on the development of the characters than there is on overt action, although several important plot "prophecies," are fulfilled, some in surprising ways. There are those who will argue that certain ones of those were not developed fully and in a few cases, I could see that point of view, although I'd suspect it's more a matter of the reader having built up one's own imagination to the point of making most anything that was designed to occur to be a letdown.

It probably helps that I have not been all that huge of a "fan" of the WoT series since the 9th installment. I thought then (and still do, to an extent) that the writing was a bit laborious in places, the pacing was glacial, certain character arcs were not developed well, and so forth. So when reading over the course of nearly 800 pages not just plots developing in a decent pace, but character traits being developed more concisely and with a greater emphasis (perhaps too great, some might argue) on thematic parallels between various characters.

The Gathering Storm is in many ways, a "dark" novel. The main characters featured are tested; some prove to be brittle. I am reminded of the late Robert Jordan's blog entry from several years ago, talking about his experiences in Vietnam and a choice made there. There are certain parallels between that and what takes place in this novel. What that situation/choice is will have to be a matter of conjecture until the next week.

Did I enjoy it? Yes. It was better, for the reasons I hinted at above, than several of the more recent entries in the novel. It is not a perfect novel (reasons I'll explore on Tuesday), but it reminded me of the elements of the series that I did enjoy when I began reading it in 1997. While not likely to be considered for the best 2009 novel that I've read, I do think it is one of the best epic fantasies novels that I've read this year.

But if you want to know anything more specific than this, then read and find out...on October 27.

Thought it was about time that a thread for the book itself, rather than the audiobook chapter, was started, since a few spoilers were let loose there without the proper tags.

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Thanks!

I assume one of the major thematic parallels strongly emphasized in this novel is the one between Egwene and Rand? We could see it clearly in the first two chapters itself.

I'd say, from my reading of those two chapters, that Rand's story is of his struggle with his inner demons, the corruption within. For Egwene, it is the corruption without that she must deal with. Of course, there'll be some of the other in both.

If this is indeed an aspect that is emphasized, what is your take on it, without entering into the details? Has Jordan/BS done something new with the chief male and female protagonists of the series? Is it old themes looked at again? And are the issues handled well?

For me, these are the aspects of WoT I prize. The plot is great, but "The Heroes Journey" resented in so many reflecting and anti-parallel forms is the most engaging.

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While what you guess is partly emphasized, it's much broader than just two characters. Won't go into details now, but will note that the characters felt "familiar" and yet were developed further. Things were handled well for the most part, although there were times that there were signs of herky-jerky plot action to cut to the chase.

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I have a question.

I promised myself I would no longer spend money on RJ's books because they had become depressingly annoying to read. I want to keep this short and not start any debate, just asking if this novel is noticeably better IN YOUR OPINION than the more recent installments?

Is it worth spending the money on?

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It's hard to say. In hindsight, I would have bought #8-11 in paperback and waited years. #12 is far from perfect, with several of the same quirks in the storytelling (however, the sniffing is mostly absent, the clothing descriptions are there but briefer, and there aren't quite as many repetitive comments about X gender not understanding Y gender and vice versa), so you might find it to be slightly better than the last few volumes, but not as though the author/s had somehow crafted a story that flows as well as the best of Nabokov's work.

Or to be brief: I would not have regretted spending money on it if I had to in hardcover form and that I think in terms of me enjoying the story itself, it was close in some regards to Bakker's latest. But it certainly is "heavier" than the past few volumes and some will like that, others will wish it weren't as harsh to the characters at times.

But to be safe, I'd say just get on the list at your local library. It's not worlds better, just a bit better.

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Haven't got my hands on the book yet, but I figured I'd post my list of "Things Still to Be Resolved in the Wheel of Time Series". I wrote it up this summer during my reread. This list is just things I pulled off the top of my head; I'm sure there's other plotlines and prophecies that other people want closure on. However, I think I hit all the major points.

Will a third of these be taken care of by the end of TGS? I'll find out next Tuesday, I guess, and then return here and cross some of these off. Of course, I know a lot of these will NOT happen in TGS, because a lot of prophecies have to do with the Last Battle. Still, here's to hoping we see some (good) resolution for the things on the list:

Rand

-The Balefire Paradox between him and Moridin needs to be taken care of

-"Twice dawns the day" that he sheds his blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul

-He will "face the Amyrlin and know her anger"

-"To live, you must die." - Alivia is going to help him die, somehow.

-Min's viewing of a bloody hand and a hot iron (this relates to Elayne in some way)

-Min's viewing of a beggar staff; Perrin's dream of him as a blind beggar

-3 women on a boat with Rand

-Cadsuane's lesson to Rand and the Asha'man

Mat

-He will go to the Tower of Ghenjei, and the Thom/Moiraine plot will be resolved. (On a side note, hopefully we'll find out what happened to Lanfear and Moiraine once beyond the door).

-He will lose an eye.

-Something concerning two Aes Sedai on a balance scale. (This might have already happened, but I don't think so)

-He will give Rand Aludra's gunpowder inventions.

Perrin

-Perrin needs to save Rand's life once more

-Perrin will get the Broken Crown, somehow

-Min's viewing about trees and flowers (again, some think this has been fulfilled. I don't think so)

-A resolution to the Faile/Berelain plot, probably having to do with Berelain's "man in white"

The Last Battle

-The day will dawn twice, or something like that

-What Herid Fel meant in his last note / Why will Rand break the seals?

Egwene and the Tar Valon crowd

-Egwene will be in a dire situation, where Gawyn can choose to save her or let her die

-Egwene is connected to a Seanchan with a sword

-The Seanchan attack Tar Valon

-Siuan and Gareth need to be close to one another or else they will die

-Who is beating Sheriam?

-The exact purpose of the Too-Young Sitters conspiracy needs to be dealt with. This relates to the Ajah heads all plotting with one another.

-Resolution of the plot with the Black Ajah searchers in the White Tower.

The Forsaken

-Mesaana's secret identity

-What has Demandred been up to?

-Who is masquerading as Sammael?

-Who killed Asmodean?

Other Bad Guys

-What is Padan Fain's role in all of this?

-What is Slayer up to? What happened to Luc and Isam in the Blight that made them into Slayer?

-What are Masema's plans? Why has he been meeting with both Aes Sedai and the Seanchan?

The Black Tower

-What is Taim up to?

-Logain's future glory

-The Black Tower split; Elaida's viewing of it "rent in blood and fire"

Miscellaneous Allies:

-The Borderlander army. What are they after?

-Jain Charin/Farstrider's backstory. Where has he been since Ishamael used him?

-Who are the Aes Sedai at the Silver Swan?

-What is Verin up to? What's her 70 year plan?

-Elayne's children. (Possibly Aviendha's, as well)

-The "remnant of a remnant" of the Aiel that will be saved. (I'm guessing this is Therava's group, but this might not be the case"

-Galad and the split in the Whitecloaks

-Loial, the Ogier, and the Book of Translation

-Narishma "following after" Rand. (This might have already happened when he used Callandor during the Cleansing)

I'm looking forward to Tuesday!

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It's hard to say. In hindsight, I would have bought #8-11 in paperback and waited years. #12 is far from perfect, with several of the same quirks in the storytelling (however, the sniffing is mostly absent, the clothing descriptions are there but briefer, and there aren't quite as many repetitive comments about X gender not understanding Y gender and vice versa), so you might find it to be slightly better than the last few volumes, but not as though the author/s had somehow crafted a story that flows as well as the best of Nabokov's work.

Or to be brief: I would not have regretted spending money on it if I had to in hardcover form and that I think in terms of me enjoying the story itself, it was close in some regards to Bakker's latest. But it certainly is "heavier" than the past few volumes and some will like that, others will wish it weren't as harsh to the characters at times.

But to be safe, I'd say just get on the list at your local library. It's not worlds better, just a bit better.

Thanks for the tip. The issue with the library...it tends not to get books in a language I can read. :huh: :read:

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Guest Ro_

LL, have you read the chapters Tor released? I was pleased with them and will be buying the book.

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LL, have you read the chapters Tor released? I was pleased with them and will be buying the book.

While I'd prefer plot development over character development we've pre-ordered it. Unless there is a new character I don't see why after 11 books we need to expound upon those who may already be familiar to us. Someone like Ituralde (sp?) may be an exception to this but if we're talking about people who've been around it seems pointless. It's been so long coming that as long as I see a conclusion being reached I'll buy and read it. (LL, no library here will stock it either so I feel your pain yet, owning the others, why not just have them all...)

Mashiara and I will be fighting over it once it gets here. Luckily she works mornings and I the evenings so there isn't much free-time overlap. (It's also likely she'll be done with it a day or two after she picks it up so that's a plus for me too.)

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LL, have you read the chapters Tor released? I was pleased with them and will be buying the book.

I wasn't pleased, so I will read the summaries only (encyclopaedia-wot.org) but I have two question:

DF,

what happened with the " He has been writing since 1977 and intends to continue until they nail shut his coffin." line?

Is there a preface about RJ (15-20 pages about his life, disease and death)?

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While I'd prefer plot development over character development we've pre-ordered it. Unless there is a new character I don't see why after 11 books we need to expound upon those who may already be familiar to us. Someone like Ituralde (sp?) may be an exception to this but if we're talking about people who've been around it seems pointless. It's been so long coming that as long as I see a conclusion being reached I'll buy and read it. (LL, no library here will stock it either so I feel your pain yet, owning the others, why not just have them all...)

I don't own them all anymore. I stopped buying them at some point, I am not even sure when it was. I borrowed from friends or from libraries.

It'll be a tough decision, but thanks for the input. I suspect I'll end up buying it, English reading material is scarce stuff here and that one will be released here in English.

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Mat

-Something concerning two Aes Sedai on a balance scale. (This might have already happened, but I don't think so)

Pretty sure this has been fulfilled with his rescue of he captured AS in Ebou Dar - Teslyn, Edesina and Joline.

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Hmm...to hold off pre-ordering this or not. I don't really want a hardcover copy of this. I wish publishers gave you the option of buying a standard paperback sized version of the novel, first. Instead you have to wait months.

Bah, I'll just give in to Tor and buy the bloody thing.

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I love the non-review reviews. :)

DF, Can you reveal not who killed Asmoden, but whether that killer is revealed in this book?

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Waterstones website claims that they have it in stock now. Whether or not they'll sell it to me, i'll find out soon.....

I'm guessing not. I just asked in Waterstones and they said the book was marked with an 'embargo' on the system until Tuesday, so even if a branch puts out a copy by accident, the computer won't let them sell it when they try to scan it. From the website, it looks like Tescos is the same way, whilst in the USA it does sound like it's only local shops that are selling it early. Checking out local, independent shops might be a better idea.

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Hmm, Larry's thoughts are raising my interest in this one. Still not sure if I'll get it now or wait until paperback or bargain price. Either way, I still have to read KoD first anyways.

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Will a third of these be taken care of by the end of TGS? I'll find out next Tuesday, I guess, and then return here and cross some of these off. Of course, I know a lot of these will NOT happen in TGS, because a lot of prophecies have to do with the Last Battle. Still, here's to hoping we see some (good) resolution for the things on the list:

I'm going to guess that TGS won't resolve 30% of these stories, especially as many of them are interlinked with other elements that probably won't be addressed until the Last Battle. Still, I'll take a shot based on what I know (and I haven't read the book so I don't know for sure):

SPOILER: TGS

Rand

-The Balefire Paradox between him and Moridin needs to be taken care of - No

-"Twice dawns the day" that he sheds his blood on the rocks of Shayol Ghul - Not until Book 14

-He will "face the Amyrlin and know her anger" - Addressed, but the event doesn't happen yet.

-"To live, you must die." - Alivia is going to help him die, somehow. - Not yet.

-Min's viewing of a bloody hand and a hot iron (this relates to Elayne in some way) - Not yet

-Min's viewing of a beggar staff; Perrin's dream of him as a blind beggar - Not yet

-3 women on a boat with Rand - Not yet

-Cadsuane's lesson to Rand and the Asha'man - Don't know, but I don't think so.

Mat

-He will go to the Tower of Ghenjei, and the Thom/Moiraine plot will be resolved. (On a side note, hopefully we'll find out what happened to Lanfear and Moiraine once beyond the door). - No, but there is some set-up for it. This will be a core storyline in Book 13 from the sound of it.

-He will lose an eye. - Don't think so.

-Something concerning two Aes Sedai on a balance scale. (This might have already happened, but I don't think so) - Unknown.

-He will give Rand Aludra's gunpowder inventions. - Unknown.

Perrin

-Perrin needs to save Rand's life once more - Unknown.

-Perrin will get the Broken Crown, somehow - I thought it was Faile who would get the Broken Crown?

-Min's viewing about trees and flowers (again, some think this has been fulfilled. I don't think so) - Unknown.

-A resolution to the Faile/Berelain plot, probably having to do with Berelain's "man in white" - No. She doesn't meet Galad.

The Last Battle

-The day will dawn twice, or something like that - Not until Book 14.

-What Herid Fel meant in his last note / Why will Rand break the seals? - Not yet, but addressed as we saw in one of the spoiler chapters.

Egwene and the Tar Valon crowd - I believe all of the below is addressed and most of it resolved.

-Egwene will be in a dire situation, where Gawyn can choose to save her or let her die - Resolved.

-Egwene is connected to a Seanchan with a sword - Yes.

-The Seanchan attack Tar Valon - Yes, and it is resolved, not left as a cliffhanger.

-Siuan and Gareth need to be close to one another or else they will die - I believe resolved.

-Who is beating Sheriam? - Answered.

-The exact purpose of the Too-Young Sitters conspiracy needs to be dealt with. This relates to the Ajah heads all plotting with one another. - Addressed, and I think resolved.

-Resolution of the plot with the Black Ajah searchers in the White Tower. - Resolved

The Forsaken

-Mesaana's secret identity - unknown. I'm guessing at least addressed.

-What has Demandred been up to? - Not addressed. Demandred apparently doesn't show up after the preview chapters.

-Who is masquerading as Sammael? - Unknown.

-Who killed Asmodean? - Not answered in this book. I think Sanderson had said previously it was going to be in the last book when AMoL was two volumes, which leads me to believe it will be in Book 13 or 14.

Other Bad Guys

-What is Padan Fain's role in all of this? - Unknown

-What is Slayer up to? What happened to Luc and Isam in the Blight that made them into Slayer? - Unknown.

-What are Masema's plans? Why has he been meeting with both Aes Sedai and the Seanchan? - Unknown and possibly now irrelevant.

The Black Tower - The Black Tower storyline I believe is held back for Book 13. Taim does not appear in Book 12.

-What is Taim up to?

-Logain's future glory

-The Black Tower split; Elaida's viewing of it "rent in blood and fire"

Miscellaneous Allies:

-The Borderlander army. What are they after? - Unknown, but Hurin appears, so I'm guessing we visit the Borderlands at least briefly.

-Jain Charin/Farstrider's backstory. Where has he been since Ishamael used him? - Unknown.

-Who are the Aes Sedai at the Silver Swan? - Not addressed. Caemlyn and Elayne do not appear in Book 12.

-What is Verin up to? What's her 70 year plan? - Addressed and fully resolved.

-Elayne's children. (Possibly Aviendha's, as well) - Not addressed as Elayne isn't in it. Aviendha does appear, so that might be addressed.

-The "remnant of a remnant" of the Aiel that will be saved. (I'm guessing this is Therava's group, but this might not be the case) - Book 14, I'm guessing.

-Galad and the split in the Whitecloaks - Unknown.

-Loial, the Ogier, and the Book of Translation - Unknown.

-Narishma "following after" Rand. (This might have already happened when he used Callandor during the Cleansing) - Unknown, but I'm guessing it was addressed by him taking Callandor.

Can you reveal not who killed Asmoden, but whether that killer is revealed in this book?

SPOILER: TGS
Some of the people on Dragonmount were taking the mickey about this, but eventually admitted that this is not addressed in TGS.

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Pretty sure this has been fulfilled with his rescue of he captured AS in Ebou Dar - Teslyn, Edesina and Joline.

Some people think so. I've never bought that explanation. Mat agreed to help Joline because of Setalle. He agreed to help Teslyn because of the note she left Elayne, and he agreed to help Edesina because of Teslyn. Never once did he consider leaving the women behind or weigh the benefits of rescuing one against the other. Also, Mat's decision is supposed to represent something "vast...the world, perhaps". No sign that rescuing these Aes Sedai will save the world in any way. We'll see.

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