Saturday, 7 November 2009

robert jordan and brandon sanderson - the gathering storm

The Gathering Storm is the twelfth in the Wheel of Time series, part written by Robert Jordan and completed by Brandon Sanderson after his death.

Let me preface this review by saying that I'm a Wheel of Time hater of the vitriolic kind. Back in the day, when I was young and uncritical, I burned through the entire series and loved it from the beginning. Unfortunately, I started to develop critical reading skills right around the time that the series took a dive into terribleness. I was seriously burned on the tenth book, Crossroads of Twilight, and became an outright hater. I hated the padding, the repetition, the ridiculous excess of minor characters. Hated the plotlines that took four books to resolve. Hated having to use the Wheel of Time Concordance to keep up. Most of all, I hated the disappointment - I hated that a series I'd loved so much had become a travesty.

I had moderate hopes that Brandon Sanderson would turn it around with The Gathering Storm, but when I read the first chapter, Tears from Steel (available to members of, I was horrified. It was exactly as I'd feared: Nothing happened. Six thousand words of throat-clearing, incorporating only (a) scenery description, (b) recap of the previous novels, and (c) the protagonist doing nothing. So I promised myself I was done with The Wheel of Time.

Well, I take it back.

The Gathering Storm is not perfect. The opening chapters in particular suffer from the classic Wheel of Time problems. Several storylines seem completely unnecessary, although Mat "where did my plot go" Cauthon has the benefit of being hilarious. (I don't remember him being this funny.)

as the book progresses you get more and more crowning moments of awesome. There are scenes I've been waiting forever to read, which were every bit as badass as I expected, and scenes that hit me totally out of the blue. A huge amount of ground is covered plot-wise, especially focusing on Rand and Egwene. If you were to say, "All this time, I've really been looking forward to ..." odds are that scene is in The Gathering Storm.

Some moments made me laugh. A lot made me wince. A few made me go "Holy sh**!" This is a really freaking dark book, and Rand in particular hits the rockiest of rock bottoms, kicking the dog with such enthusiasm that he crosses the moral event horizon. He's armed with damn near absolute power, and he's not even trying to control it any more: he blows people and entire settlements away with breathtaking callousness, and his endgame plan is horrific, leading to many heart-stopping scenes of win.

Stuff happens. And it's awesome.

Verdict = 4 out of 5 stars. Against all the odds, The Gathering Storm is a genuinely good novel - good enough that I'm planning to buy the hardcover for my mother. I'm back on board the Wheel of Time train, ready to pull into Last Battle station. :D


  1. From your review, I'll be looking forward to reading it. :) After my review of Elantris, I wasn't sure how the styles would fit, but it looks like Sanderson's done it.

  2. Hey Para, just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for a Helpful Blog Award. =)

    & I love how you linked to TV Tropes! Must... resist... spending... afternoon... on site...

  3. So it's really THAT awesome, huh? I had come to terms with the fact that I might really not give a shit about the Last Battle anymore and never read the end of this.

    But if YOU are this blown away, I might give it a go anyway :D

  4. I just really, really liked it. Go read it! Then you too can see why Verin is the most badass character in the entire series. :D

  5. I can't even remember who Verin is.