"We can't go back, Mat. The Wheel has turned, for better or worse. And it will keep turning, as lights die and forests dim, storms call and skies break. Turn it will. The Wheel is not hope, and the Wheel does not care, the Wheel simply is. But so long as it turns, folk may hope, folk may care. For with light that fades, another will eventually grow, and each storm that rages must eventually die. As long as the Wheel turns. As long is it turns...."
I cheated this last book. I said in my New Authors post that I was going to read a few new books before picking up another Jordan or King novel. Well, that didn't go as planned. At church the week before I got to talking with a friend about finishing up Knife of Dreams and how enjoyable the book was. Let's just say that during that conversation he did an excellent job of talking up the next chapter in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time epic. So excellent of a job that I had to pick up the book and cheat my way through while pretending to read a new novel. It was well worth it though.....
The Gathering Storm is the 12th book in The Wheel of Time series, and the first book after Jordan's passing away. Brandon Sanderson takes over the duty of bring a finale to the defining epic. He does this with the help of copious amounts of notes that Jordan took, and with the editing and knowledge of Jordan's wife and friends. With that said, he certainly doesn't disappoint. The book is terribly difficult to put down. You can feel the culmination of years of plot coming to their climax. We don't see that end in this novel, but we can finally tell that it's going to happen. For those that appreciate the way that RJ wrote WoT, you'll be happy to know that Brandon continues down the same road. You aren't left feeling that someone had to take over the story and ran with a different scope or feel. If you weren't a fan of RJ's tedium then you'll be happy to know that Brandon does a good job of not going overboard either. You have the depth of description that everyone has come to expect with WoT, but it's subtle to the point that you don't feel like you've been reading paragraphs on the pattern, color, texture, and material of an Aes Sedai's dress.
The feel and progress of The Gathering Storm was excellent. This novel covered all of the main characters, but focused primarily on Rand and Egwene. Rand is battling with the question of his sanity, the emotions that supposedly weaken him, and his need to fulfill the prophecy of the Dragon(him) by bringing the nations together. You see the turmoil that has been building from the first book. Rand has gone from a confused teenager, to a king..... perhaps a tyrant to some. Egwene is still a prisoner in the White Tower. The foundations that have withstood turmoil for so long are crumbling; being destroyed from the inside out. Can she reunite the Sisters, or will the White Tower fail? You also get a smattering of Mat and Perrin. All in all, it felt like the 750 or so pages went incredibly fast. It's a pace that we haven't seen in a long time, but it was well received by this fan.
Twenty years, 8464 pages, and two authors later, and I can finally see the light at the end of the epic tunnel that has spanned almost two-thirds of my life. It's a mixed bag of feelings though. I've looked forward to the continuing story at the end of every book. I've enjoyed complaining about the slow parts or the time it's taken for the next book to come out. I've worried about Jordan being able to complete the book. I've had great conversations about how this was going to happen, or who was going to do this. I'm ready for the end of the series, but can't help but feel sad at the same time. Great books will do that to you. So thank you Robert Jordan for eleven books and a plethora of notes to keep the epic going. Thank you Sanderson for staying true.
Rating: 9.2 CBs - I might revise this when the other two books have come out, but for the time being I need to give some room for the next two novels to grow. It was an excellent book by an excellent author. If you're interested in more of his work go check out his website here. He does have a free book for download.