I was devastated in 2007 when I heard of the death of one of my favorite authors, Robert Jordan. He was a superb storyteller who created a work of fantasy that was unlike any other. His death brought mild panic to my world. It looked like The Wheel of Time books would have no ending, would leave us readers hanging off the cliff on a rope with no one to pull us up.
I was also aghast that Jordan's wife and manager would pick a relatively unknown author to pick up the storyline and continue it. Who was this Brandon Sanderson anyway? I decided to go read his previous works, looking for clues to how his writing style would stand up to Jordan's. And ya know what? I wasn't disappointed. Elantris and his Mistborn series of books were fantastic. Heavy in detail, magic and politics that for me, are the essentials in good fantasy stories.
Two days ago, The Gathering Storm arrived on my doorstep. I've spent the majority of those two days reading. I've neglected everything in my life shamelessly, devoting every second of my day to reading 800 pages. I finished it, very late last night. The verdict?
It was everything that I could have wished for in a Robert Jordan novel, and more. Sanderson has managed to tie his and Jordan's writing together seamlessly. It was an incredible read.
There are two main story arcs in this book, concentrating on Rand and Egwene. Perrin and Matt are there briefly, but just barely. The story line with Rand tends to be quite dark, and the character must deal with having incredible power and unbearable duty. There's only so much that one person can bear in his lifetime and we get to see if Rand can hold it together long enough to make it to the final battle. The story line dealing with Egwene however, is much more fun and enjoyable. She's already fought her demons in previous books and now gets to act, trying to reunite the White Tower's various mule-headed and power hungry factions.
If you are into Perrin and Matt and Elaine, well, you're going to have to wait for the next couple of books. Yes, there will be two more. The amount of loose ends that Sanderson must tie up is staggering and will take a while to deal with. In my opinon, Sanderson is handling that quite well. Already a few of the questions that have been lying out there have already been answered and I look forward to finding out more.
I'll avoid going into more detail, I don't want to ruin the book for anyone out there that hasn't read it. I will say this however. If you have been worried about the 12th book in the series, don't be. It's that good.