Jump to content

Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, The Gathering Storm


Larry.

Recommended Posts

I'm almost 200 pages in and have enjoyed it so far. I'm pleased with the forward motion of the plot,but it may help that I've read reviews indicating that plotlines do get resolved, perhaps causing me to be more patient with what I've read so far.

There have been a few pieces, mostly single sentences, that have stood out at me as not being something Robert Jordan would have written. However, once I begin getting engrossed in the story I find it's not noticable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Gathering Storm

The battle for control of the western nations ahead of the Last Battle continues to rage. Rand al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn, has taken his army to the war and famine-wracked kingdom of Arad Doman to restore order, win the country to his cause and also to negotiate a new peace treaty with the Seanchan. But as his plans continue to unfold, Rand has to harden himself more and more, and in doing so is in the process of losing his soul and his mind.

In Tar Valon, Egwene al'Vere remains a prisoner but a defiant one. As her efforts to undermine the false Amyrlin Elaida continue within the Tower, her followers maintain their siege of the city from outside, and are joined by an unexpected new ally. Elsewhere, Mat Cauthon and the Band of the Red Hand continue their flight towards Andor, and are surprised to be reunited with an old friend, a friend whose careful, long-laid plans are about to come to fruition...

The Gathering Storm is the twelfth volume in The Wheel of Time series and the first released since Robert Jordan's unfortunate death in 2007. Jordan spent his final months amassing and dictating a significant amount of notes, outlines and chapter summaries for another writer to use to finish the series. Previously, Jordan had indicated he'd wipe his hard drive to stop someone else completing his work, but with him being so close to the end of the story he changed his mind, trusting his wife and editor, Harriet, and his publisher Tom Doherty to find a writer capable of finishing the series well. In theory, it should have led to disaster: typically one writer finishing a series begun by another is an atrocious idea that only leads to very bad books (note the vomit-inducing new Dune novels and the ill-advised Amber continuations). The only example I can think of this working was when Stella Gemmell completed her late husband David's final novel in fine form, but the amount of work required to bring Wheel of Time to a conclusion required an altogether different level of commitment and effort from Brandon Sanderson.

Almost unbelievably, Sanderson has pulled it off. In his introduction he hopes the differences between his style and Jordan, whilst unavoidably noticeable, will be comparable to a different (but still good) director taking over your favourite movie series but all the actors remaining the same. This isn't a bad analogy at all, and whilst there are a few moments in The Gathering Storm where you think, "I don't think Robert Jordan would have done things quite like that," there's never a moment where you think, "He definitely wouldn't have done that at all!" which is vital.

Another concern was that originally these last three books were supposed to be one volume, A Memory of Light, and Sanderson actually wrote the bulk of the text under the impression it was going to be probably split in two. The decision to split the book in three instead resulted in much recrimination, although at 800 pages in hardcover (and assuming the second and third come in at a similar size) and well over 300,000 words, tying it with Knife of Dreams as the longest book in the series since Lord of Chaos, it's clear this could never have been done in just two books either. One problem with this split was that since Sanderson hadn't been writing with three books in mind, The Gathering Storm would feel incomplete or unsatisfying on its own. This is not the case at all. In fact, The Gathering Storm has the most cohesive through-line in story, character and theme of any book in the series since The Shadow Rising, and possibly out of all of them.

The structure of the book focuses on two primary storylines: Rand's deteriorating mental state as he struggles to bring Arad Doman into the confederation of kingdoms sworn to him, and Egwene's efforts to unite the White Tower and end the civil war within the Aes Sedai that has raged for the past seven and a half volumes. Other characters and stories appear briefly, such as Perrin and Tuon, and Mat has a slightly bigger role, but other major characters and storylines do not appear at all. The recently-quelled civil war in Andor and the Mazrim Taim/Asha'man plotlines are notable by their absences. Instead, this part of the story focuses on two of the central protagonists, Rand and Egwene, and the experiences they go through to achieve their goals. The novel could almost be called The Long Night of Rand al'Thor as the series' central figure is dragged through the wringer, going to very dark places indeed as he struggles to understand his own role in events and how he is to achieve the things he must do to save the world. On the other hand, Egwene is shown to have already passed through her moments of doubt and misjudgement in previous volumes, and in this book her story focuses on her battle of wills with Elaida to restore unity to the Aes Sedai.

This contrast of darkness and light and putting two central characters squarely back in the limelight (previous volumes have sometimes devoted way too much time to tertiary characters of limited importance) is a highly successful move, allowing some interesting thematic elements to be touched upon. Whilst the reader may have guessed that Rand is severely traumatised from everything that has happened to him in the previous books, it isn't until this volume that we realise just how badly things have affected him and we see just how hard and how determined he has become. An interesting analogy that is not touched upon is what happened to Aridhol to defeat the Shadow in the Trolloc Wars, where it became harder and more ruthless than the enemy and eventually consumed itself in insanity and rage.

This is a powerful and intense story, something that has been building for the entire latter half of the series, and it's a demanding tale that you probably wouldn't want to dump on a new author in ideal circumstances. But Sanderson picks up the ball and runs with it. Rand's characterisation is completely spot-on and consistent with earlier appearances, and Sanderson does a monumental job with this storyline. He also does superbly with Egwene's story, which culminates in one of the most spectacular action set-pieces in the series to date (and I suspect something that could dislodge Dumai's Wells or the Battle of Cairhien as many reader's favourite action sequence in the whole series). A whole myriad of lesser characters is also well-handled, such as Siuan, Tuon and the various Aes Sedai, but Gawyn becomes a bit of a fifth wheel with not much to do, which is odd given he has a much bigger presence here than he has in some considerable time.

Other reviewers have suggested that Sanderson struggles with Mat, and unfortunately this is true. Not fatally so, but for everything Mat does that is 'right' to his character, he'll typically do something incongruous and uncharacteristic a few pages later. Sanderson also never really gets into the swing of his speech pattern or sense of humour either. He's readable, but it's the only part of the book where the change in authors feels jarring. Luckily, it's not a large part of the book and hopefully Sanderson will be able to work more on this area for the next book, Towers of Midnight, where Mat is expected to play a much bigger role in events.

The Gathering Storm (****½) is a very fine book, one of the strongest instalments of the whole series and easily the best book published in The Wheel of Time for fifteen years. Whilst some of that achievement must go to Brandon Sanderson for his sterling and jaw-dropping work on the book, it is clear that Robert Jordan had planned these events with a watchmaker's precision, setting them up through lines of dialogue and minor twists of characterisation stretching right back to the second volume of the series, and the overwhelming feeling upon reaching the end of the novel is that he was an extraordinarily clever writer and plotter, for all of the flaws that have cropped up along the way. The book is available now in the UK and, with the worst cover in the history of modern publishing, in the USA. Towers of Midnight will follow in one year's time, with A Memory of Light to follow a year after that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great review Wert. I agree mostly, though I'm going to post some of my negative reactions a little later. Nothing major.

With respect to the cover... I'm shocked they chose such a tame scene (though it has become the norm). I mean, the final scene in you know where, and the concluding event that is viewed in the epilogue is so visualy striking that it would have made an excellent cover. Wonder why they did not push for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

With respect to the cover... I'm shocked they chose such a tame scene (though it has become the norm). I mean, the final scene in you know where, and the concluding event that is viewed in the epilogue is so visualy striking that it would have made an excellent cover. Wonder why they did not push for that.

Haha...ironically the tamest looking cover so far (LoC) was actually the least tame scene depicted (Dumai's Wells).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if a mod could spoiler highlight my spoiler, it would be much appriciated because I don't know how to do it.

anyways finished the book last night.

fucking amazing. Wow. thats all I can really say. I loved it. Some people may think certain scenes were rushed but I didn't really see it.

SPOILERS

SPOILER: TGS
What Semirhage did to Rand. unbelievable. And then what happened next. Wow. At first I was upset with the outcome, but then I thought about it, and with the information given in the prologue it made sense.

and then Graendal. "how do you beat someone smarter than you?" genious. I somewhat agree with what fionwe thinks about graendal.. and it would have made a lot of sense if she showed up at the end, but with rand making himself sane at the end... not sure if she is really dead or not now.

seeing the ta'veren affect from rodel and tuons point of view was a nice addition.

Things seemed to fall into Egwene's lap a little too easy imo, but I was happy with the outcome. I didn't like the Verin reveal though. she just happened to figure it all out was a little to deus ex for me. and why not just unbind herself in the 70 years inbetween.

that was probably my biggest gripe in the book, but i liked her reveal "and of course the dress you're wearing is green.."

and rand at the end with ebou dar... damn scary. he truly was at his lowest at that point.

END SPOILERS

cant fucking wait till next year.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

if a mod could spoiler highlight my spoiler, it would be much appriciated because I don't know how to do it.

anyways finished the book last night.

fucking amazing. Wow. thats all I can really say. I loved it. Some people may think certain scenes were rushed but I didn't really see it.

SPOILER: TGS

What Semirhage did to Rand. unbelievable. And then what happened next. Wow. At first I was upset with the outcome, but then I thought about it, and with the information given in the prologue it made sense.

and then Graendal. "how do you beat someone smarter than you?" genious. I somewhat agree with what fionwe thinks about graendal.. and it would have made a lot of sense if she showed up at the end, but with rand making himself sane at the end... not sure if she is really dead or not now.

seeing the ta'veren affect from rodel and tuons point of view was a nice addition.

Things seemed to fall into Egwene's lap a little too easy imo, but I was happy with the outcome. I didn't like the Verin reveal though. she just happened to figure it all out was a little to deus ex for me. and why not just unbind herself in the 70 years inbetween.

that was probably my biggest gripe in the book, but i liked her reveal "and of course the dress you're wearing is green.."

and rand at the end with ebou dar... damn scary. he truly was at his lowest at that point.

cant fucking wait till next year.

We have a full spoilers thread.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not know the exact number of pages of TGS, but still

To all of you people who finish this book in one day

This means to me that either

This book does not deserve a lot of attention or

You don't give it the attention it deserves.

I read very, very fast. My History research, law school, and my love of the series forces me go even faster than usual, so that I can fit the book into my schedule.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Great review Wert! :)

Milk of the Poppy, I read very, very fast. When I finally get my hands on the book I plan on devoting as much time to it as possible, even if it means not sleeping. I don't know if it will take me one day or two, or three, because I do have to work and deal with homework after I get back, but I'll read it fast. Believe me, I'll give it all the attention it deserves.

ETA: Give me this girl a prize, I managed NOT to read the spoiler, even though it was right there for all to see. Could someone edit it though?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do not know the exact number of pages of TGS, but still

To all of you people who finish this book in one day

This means to me that either

This book does not deserve a lot of attention or

You don't give it the attention it deserves.

I do know the exact amount of pages in TGS. So

To all of you who took more than a day to finish the book

This means to me that either

-you're dumb, with terrible reading speed and comprehension and cannot possibly match us one-day readers' brainpower.

-you don't care enough about the series to read it continuously for 10 hours straight and are not "true" fans

;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

To all of you who took more than a day to finish the book

This means to me that either

-you're dumb, with terrible reading speed and comprehension and cannot possibly match us one-day readers' brainpower.

-you don't care enough about the series to read it continuously for 10 hours straight and are not "true" fans

;)

Or

- your SO is also trying to read the same copy of the book at the same time as you, resulting in some funny/not so funny moments and possibly a fist-fight or two.

At least that's going to be my excuse for not finishing the book in a day, even though I will try. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Or

- your SO is also trying to read the same copy of the book at the same time as you, resulting in some funny/not so funny moments and possibly a fist-fight or two.

At least that's going to be my excuse for not finishing the book in a day, even though I will try. :P

Mash why dont you and dalthor take turns reading a chapter outloud to each other? I think that would be sorta fun. I dont know why but I always have a different visual when listening to rather than when I am reading a novel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do know the exact amount of pages in TGS. So

To all of you who took more than a day to finish the book

This means to me that either

-you're dumb, with terrible reading speed and comprehension and cannot possibly match us one-day readers' brainpower.

-you don't care enough about the series to read it continuously for 10 hours straight and are not "true" fans

;)

Or

-you're skipping every other page in a rush to finish the book before you're spoiled on this forum by someone who posts spoilers without bothering to figure out the code to hide it.

:)

I'm taking my time with my re-read (just started book 5), so I won't even get to book 12 for months. So basically, I really need to stop coming to these threads. I know what I wanted to know (the book doesn't suck).

:leaving:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do know the exact amount of pages in TGS. So

To all of you who took more than a day to finish the book

This means to me that either

-you're dumb, with terrible reading speed and comprehension and cannot possibly match us one-day readers' brainpower.

-you don't care enough about the series to read it continuously for 10 hours straight and are not "true" fans

;)

Well done.

But seriously, reading it this fast seems a bit obsessive to me.

More like a chore than something to be enjoyed.

Also as a writer I would be depressed if people read in one day something

that took me a year to write.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mash why dont you and dalthor take turns reading a chapter outloud to each other? I think that would be sorta fun. I dont know why but I always have a different visual when listening to rather than when I am reading a novel.

No way, I can't imagine a better way to ruin a book than this. I don't enjoy listening to a book, that's why audio-books would never work for me. I'm the visual type, all the way.

Besides, it's a fantasy book! With weird names that people pronounce differently in their heads. Even after almost 8 years together, we can't agree on how to pronounce certain names. Can you imagine the confusion? ;)

Milk of the Poppy

But seriously, reading it this fast seems a bit obsessive to me.

More like a chore than something to be enjoyed.

Also as a writer I would be depressed if people read in one day something

that took me a year to write.

I read for pleasure, and I read fast. That's the way I am. I don't read as fast as some people here but I do read books faster than most. It doesn't make my behavior obsessive at all, it doesn't make me a careless reader. I've often said that it's sometimes more of a curse than something to brag about but I'm sick of seeing people here accuse me, and others like me, that we don't fully understand the books we're reading, or that we're not enjoying them and appreciating them, or that surely we must skim over parts to get done so soon.

I'm sorry that as a writer you'd find a fast reader depressive. I thought writers would be happy to have people read and enjoy their books no matter what, but I guess I was wrong.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took two months to read Crossroads of Twilight because it was shit and couldn't bear to read more than a few turgid pages at a time.

I took about four days to read Knife of Dreams because the first half was slow and then it caught fire.

I took eight hours to read The Gathering Storm in two sittings because it was excellent.

This isn't exactly rocket science. If a book is awesome and holding my attention than I'm going to read it very fast. If it isn't, I won't ;)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took two months to read Crossroads of Twilight because it was shit and couldn't bear to read more than a few turgid pages at a time.

I took about four days to read Knife of Dreams because the first half was slow and then it caught fire.

I took eight hours to read The Gathering Storm in two sittings because it was excellent.

This isn't exactly rocket science. If a book is awesome and holding my attention than I'm going to read it very fast. If it isn't, I won't ;)

You know, Wert, you just explained to me why I read the first three books of ASOIAF in combined total of under two days, but it took me the better part of a week for AFFC. I never really considered that before.

COT didn't take me two months, but it did take me longer than any WOT, despite the fact it's much shorter than the 4/5/6 behemoths. And TGS took me less than six hours, I could read most of it in my bath, while KOD took at least a day or two.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I took two months to read Crossroads of Twilight because it was shit and couldn't bear to read more than a few turgid pages at a time.

I took about four days to read Knife of Dreams because the first half was slow and then it caught fire.

I took eight hours to read The Gathering Storm in two sittings because it was excellent.

This isn't exactly rocket science. If a book is awesome and holding my attention than I'm going to read it very fast. If it isn't, I won't ;)

It took me 24 hours (straight, no interruptions) to finish, because I kept going back to old references that I thought were relevant. Must say, the experience was eerie. How Jordan managed to make the books so cohesive is beyond me. He was churning out the books a year at a time, then slowed down a little. But the interconnects in the plot are just crazy. You could say he planned the series perfectly, but then, the series kept expanding...

Either way, reading tGS just brought back home to me why I think Jordan is leagues ahead of some newer authors like Erikson. The writing may be turgid, at times, the plotting may stall, but there is a plan to the story, and it shows. And the plan refers not just to the plot, but to thematic elements as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No way, I can't imagine a better way to ruin a book than this. I don't enjoy listening to a book, that's why audio-books would never work for me. I'm the visual type, all the way.

Besides, it's a fantasy book! With weird names that people pronounce differently in their heads. Even after almost 8 years together, we can't agree on how to pronounce certain names. Can you imagine the confusion? ;)

snip...

Hey Mash just thinking there. I am a very visual person as well, and something I found interesting is listening to an audio book on my daily commute I had a different mental picture than when I read that book the first time. I think it would be an interesting experience to do both at the same time :).

Though the names would be a bit of a mess.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...