Book Review: THE GATHERING STORM by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Title in black on white on grey wheel of time symbol
Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3.5 stars
Series: yes - book 12

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE EYE OF THE WORLD, THE GREAT HUNT, THE DRAGON REBORN, THE SHADOW RISING, THE FIRES OF HEAVEN, LORD OF CHAOS, A CROWN OF SWORDS, THE PATH OF DAGGERS, WINTER’S HEART, CROSSROADS OF TWILIGHT, and KNIFE OF DREAMS*

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE GATHERING STORM: title in blue below wheel of time symbol on water

Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, looms. And mankind is not ready.

Rand al’Thor struggles to unite a fractured network of kingdoms and alliances in preparation for the Last Battle, as his allies watch in terror the shadow that seems to be growing within the heart of the Dragon Reborn himself.

Egwene al’Vere is a captive of the White Tower and subject to the whims of their tyrannical leader. She works to hold together the disparate factions of Aes Sedai, as the days tick toward the Seanchan attack she knows is imminent. Her fight will prove the mettle of the Aes Sedai, and her conflict will decide the future of the White Tower – and possibly the world itself.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

I am quite shocked, given how my experience reading the previous half dozen (or more!) books has gone, by how much I actually enjoyed this one. This said, I had hoped that this book might engage me more than the previous ones.

This is the first of three books written by Brandon Sanderson after Robert Jordan’s death. As far as I understand it, Jordan wrote extensive notes on what was to happen, but Sanderson actually wrote it. And that was why I was hoping this might be the book where I started to enjoy reading the series again. A different author – no matter how much they are trying to mimic another author – will write in a different style, and Jordan’s style had not clicked for me.

But Sanderson’s does. The main two reasons (which are so stark) are that chapters are shorter and it is incredibly rare for a POV to narrate for more than one chapter on the trot. That makes such a difference, and actually made this book enjoyable to read, rather than a slog.

For one, if I’m not engaged by a certain character, I don’t have to way up to 100 pages to switch to someone else. That made me happier to keep reading because it wasn’t about gritting my teeth and enduring characters I disliked.

Plus the frequent switches makes the book feel much more even pacing wise, rather than dragging along with one person and making it feel like everyone else has been ignored. Not to mention that there are fewer POVs this book. No more half dozen chapters following random people I can’t tell apart who maybe get one chapter every other book (if that.) It felt so much more focused, on the leads who we’ve spent books on.

Another factor that might be at play is the that this is the first of the last three books. The end is coming, there actually a sense of movement, that it’s building to something. And things happen! The White Tower situation comes to a head, for example. There’s a feeling of progress, events being set up and then happening by the end of the book.

And Rand? I’ve been so bored and unengaged in him for books now, even though he’s the lead! He’s been too powerful and doing nothing and his internal struggles felt so weak. This book turns that around, bringing the internal struggle to the front in a way that didn’t seem overblown and insubstantial all at once.

You know what? I’m not groaning at the thought of reading the remaining books now.


Read my reviews of other books by Robert Jordan (and those completed by Brandon Sanderson):

The Wheel of Time (this series):

For books written by Brandon Sanderson that aren’t the completion of this series, see his entry in Book Review Index Sa

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