SFX book review – “The Gathering Storm”

by Dean on February 24, 2010

gathering storm SFX book review   The Gathering Storm

Another book review written for the excellent SFX magazine. This time, the chunky 12th book in Robert Jordan’s lengthy Wheel of Time saga…

“When Robert Jordan died in 2007, he left his mammoth Wheel of Time saga unfinished. But not for long. Armed with Jordan’s notes, story outlines and some completed scenes, Mistborn author Brandon Sanderson was hand-picked by Jordan’s widow to complete the final book.

The good news is that, after 11 books and 9,261 pages, we’ll eventually get to see Rand Al’Thor battle the Dark One at Shayol Ghul.

The bad news is that it doesn’t happen in this book. Or the one planned after it. It seems Jordan’s many sub-plots, sub-sub-plots and lengthy character arcs will take three books to wrap up.

The Gathering Storm is the first book in this final volume, to be followed by Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light. Yes, it smacks of padding and you’d be right to wonder whether climbing this 783-page cliff is going to be worth all the huff and puff.

The saga certainly lost momentum in the middle (Path of Daggers, we’re looking at you), bogged down with side quests and forgettable chapters about minor characters and Aes Sedai politics.

If you’ve read this far, you deserve a little action. You’ve earned it. You want to know whether Perrin rescues Faile and if Egwene can unify the White Tower? But most of all, you want to know whether you’re any closer to Tarmon Gai’don, the final showdown between the forces of Light and Shadow?

Well, you are closer. These questions are answered, although it’s still heavy going. Much of The Gathering Storm is business as usual – Tel’aran’rhiod dream meetings, Aes Sedai squabbling, smug-faced Wise Ones and hide-and-seek Forsaken.

But there’s also a renewed sense of purpose. Various dangling plot ends get tied off – some spectacularly. There are Seanchan attacks, peace talks, mass murder, even zombies.

Some of this is certainly the Sanderson effect. The stand-in author brings a fresh pair of eyes and a faster pace to The Gathering Storm. But he also remains faithful to the Jordan-esque levels of detail that fans of the series have come to expect.”

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