Surprisingly enough, I do read. I might be a knuckle dragging conservative but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a good yarn or two. I’ve been stuck with the Wheel of Time book series since I was in college. I did have the benefit of reading straight through all the books until “Path of Daggers”. I had caught up with the other books by then and was stuck waiting like everyone else for the release.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the series, there are twelve other books to read in order to get to this point. The bad news is that Robert Jordan passed away before a chance to finish. The good news is he left piles upon piles of notes so Brandon Sanderson – handpicked by Jordan’s widow – will be able to finish the series with the ending that Jordan wanted.
Putting aside that the final book was supposed to have been one volume instead of being broken up into three, “The Gathering Storm” is enough to keep fans happy. If Sanderson’s task was to write a Wheel of Time book, it was coupled with the chance to tie up several loose threads that have been hanging from the weave (see what I did there?). With the outline Jordan had left, Sanderson had the basic plot points so all he needed to do is fill in the gaps between. It would be interesting to see what parts were Jordan’s and what part’s were Sanderson’s.
Now about the book.
If you were one of the fans who grew a little tired of repetitive nature of the last couple of novels*, this should pull you back in. With the notable exceptions of Mat, Perrin and a couple of other characters, it follows Rand and Egwene. Rand as he deals with the Seachan and his downward spiral into madness and Egwene as she is held prisoner in The White Tower.
Rand has changed much since being imprisoned in the box. With the weight of the Last Battle on his shoulders, trying to preserve the Nations in Rand-Land and seek out peace with the Seachan, Sanderson and Jordan frame Rand’s decent into madness more than any other book. I started to wonder how much of his sanity will remain intact at the ending of the final book.
Egwene’s storyline was interesting. The question is asked, briefly, about the realities of swearing fealty to a man and not law. Elaida muses about adding a Fourth Oath to the Oath Rod about having to obey the wishes of the Amyrlin Seat, the head of the Aes Sedai. As a novice, an extremely misbehaving bad novice—by the Tower standards, not the Rebels -- Egwene is still able to be taught her lessons but is constantly guarded and drugged to keep her from being able to channel. That actually put her in a prime spot where she has access to key Aes Sedai in the tower but yet still be able to contact the Rebel Aes Sedai through the World of Dreams via Suian.
It was worth the late night or two to finish those last couple of chapters. Sanderson has captured Jordan’s spirit in the book nicely. For the followers who wanted to see some of the loose plot threads start to be tied up, this book will not disappoint. I read that Jordan had notes set aside for two other prequels after the series was over. If Sanderson can keep the other two books on par with this one, he would be a good choice for those as well.
*The cast has grown such that Jordan needed two novels to show how several of the main characters dealt with the aftermath of Rand cleansing Saidin.