When I learned that Robert Jordan passed away before he could finish the Wheel of Time, I got a sad sense of déjà vu. I imagine Wheel of Time fans must have felt the same sense of loss that Berserk fans did when Kentaro Miura passed. What’s sad isn’t that their works would go unfinished, but that the genius behind said work would never see their fulfilled vision shared with the world.
Luckily, in his final days, Jordan decided to pass the torch to someone else. His successor may not have been able to perfectly capture the vision he had. But better that than to leave his fans unfulfilled.
And lucky for us, his widow chose one hell of a successor.
The Wheel of Time turns and ages come and pass. The Last Battle approaches and the world is not ready. Rand is getting closer to his breaking point with each passing day. Destiny draws Mat and Perrin back to their friend, but each of their journeys are fraught with troubles and danger. Meanwhile, Egwene’s silent war for control of the White Tower and the Aes Sedai takes a turn for the worse.
Of the three books helmed by Brandon Sanderson, this is definitely the roughest one. Not to say it’s bad; this is still a damn good book, as well as a rock solid Wheel of Time book. It isn’t that he screwed it. It’s more that he had growing pains. Understandable, given that he’s taking on another author’s story and characters.
Speaking of those: the characters don’t quite feel right in this book. None of them are clearly incorrect in their characterization. It’s just little details that don’t quite add up. Some characters, like Nynaeve and Perrin, have taken a few steps back in their characters arcs. Others, like Mat, have had a few weird personality changes that don’t quite fit.
Luckily, that’s the most major problem in this book. All of the others are small, minor things. And those are easy to ignore, considering how awesome this book can get at points.
Egwene’s plot is easily the best in this book. Her battle for the White Tower finally comes to a close and it is damn satisfying! The fight between the Aes Sedai and the Seanchan is absolutely amazing. It’s a wonderful conclusion to that plotline. We even get to see Elaida suffer as a nice little cherry on top.
Rand’s is almost as good. He doesn’t get as many pages as Egwene, but his plot packs just as much punch. It wraps up his arc perfectly, giving us a long awaited reunion and a powerful, beautiful ending.
There are plenty of great, smaller moments to fill up the time. Mat goes to a village caught in a horrifying time-loop. Verin stars in one of the most mind-blowing twists in the whole series. Tuon gets a few scenes to show how dangerous a ruler she is, between her genius and her misguided ideals. Some plots are definitely better than others, but each one has its highlights.
Unfortunately, not all plots are created equal. The worst example is the Prophet. The dude has been built up since really early on in the series, but he gets killed off in the prologue! Then he’s just forgotten for the rest of the book. That whole plotline, completely wasted.
Also, Elayne continues to be the worst thing ever. Not even another author could make me not hate her.
Overall, ‘The Gathering Storm’ is a fine novel that’s rough around the edges. You can definitely tell that it wasn’t written by Robert Jordan, at least not entirely. Even still, Brandon Sanderson did an excellent job at continuing the late Jordan’s work.
And I have no doubt that he’ll only get better.