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Book Review: The Gathering Storm

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I don't think I've ever been happier to have a book in my hands than The Gathering Storm. Especially considering it was almost never written.

For those who don't know, Robert Jordan, the author of the previous 11 Wheel of Time books, passed away in September of 2007. Jordan's wife and long-time editor, Harriet, chose Brandon Sanderson to finish the story, giving him all of Jordan's notes and unpublished chapters to the proposed final book, A Memory of Light.

Realizing that Jordan still had too much story to tell, Sanderson and Tor Books decided to split A Memory of Light into three books, The Gathering Storm being the first.

Bottom Line: Egwene al'Vere saved The Wheel of Time.

Writing the series, Jordan became a victim of his own creativity. Around the 4th volume, The Shadow Rising, Jordan started expanding the cast to critical mass. With all these characters running around, some got lost and some just ate up chapters. After 3 books of huge plot developments, book 7, A Crown of Swords started a small decline for the series. Now, with all these characters, they all have to DO something, GO somewhere.

Jordan spent so much time explaining what each individual character was doing that the main plot slowed down to a crawl. The focal point of the fan's anger: the Aes Sedai.

Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne, Suian, Leane, Elaida, Alviarin, Cadsuane and so many others just brought the plot to a crawl. Nobody cared about the women plotting how to control (and hopefully save) the world. They cared even less about the girls running around like idiots trying to clean up their own messes.

The fan favorite characters Mat, Perrin, Thom and The Forsaken all shined in their too brief and infrequent segments, which made it even more maddening.

Book 10, Crossroads of Twilight started bringing the story back in line and Book 11, Knife of Dreams brought the pace up to a comfortable level.

So, with a large portion of The Gathering Storm focusing on Egwene and the other Aes Sedai, it looked like we were in trouble. Miraculously, Sanderson made this part of the story very engaging and entertaining, by the halfway point, I was actually upset when the focus went back to one of the other characters!

So, yes, Egwene al'Vere saved The Wheel of Time.

The rest of the book is Sanderson setting up Jordan's chess board. All the pieces are in place for the endgame to begin. The Aes Sedai have found direction, Rand has gotten his head out of his ass, and long-dangling plot threads are being picked back up.

For those who have avoided the series for the past 20 years, now is the time to start reading. There are only 2 books left, to be released later this year and next. Robert Jordan's writing has influenced every fantasy author of this generation, it would be a shame to miss out on it.


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