Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

The Gathering Storm is the first part of the last book of the epic Wheel of Time series. It is a book that fans, including myself, have been greatly anticipating and dreading at the same time. The reason for this is that Robert Jordan passed away due to a heart condition before the saga was complete. Brandon Sanderson was hand-picked by Jordan's widow to complete the final book in the series; however, fan concerns still lingered (at least among those of us that had never read Sanderson's work). It is very difficult for a fan base when a different author takes over, as seen when Brain Herbert resumed writing in the Dune universe made classic by his father.

The prologue that Mr. Sanderson wrote brought tears to my eyes. He apparently was inspired to become a writer because of the Wheel of Time books. He is kind enough to the fans, and smart enough, not to attempt to copy Jordan's writing style.When a new volume of Wheel of Time comes out, I usually reread the whole series (I have not read it 10 or 12 times, I've read it 3 times).  I chose not to reread the series this time for two reasons: I do not have the time, and I didn't want to have Jordan's writing style fresh in my mind. I admit it, I wanted to enjoy the book. Though I'm sure I will reread the books in there entirety again.

For those of you that are not familiar with Wheel of Time, it is simply put, a story in which the world's of Frank Herbert's Dune and Tolkien's Lord of the Ring are melded together. It is a story that has a very complex set of main characters, there are about 10 core characters, and about two dozen secondary characters that play a pivotal role to the story. You have Rand al'Thor, Mat Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara from a small town, they are dragged into a fight against the Dark One. Rand is the Chosen One, the Messiah figure, yet must have his childhood friends to be successful. This is an extremely simplified version of the premise of the tale. Jordan's style is very conversational and easy to read, his characters feel as if you could walk around the corner where you live and meet people just like them.

Now, for the actual book. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. All I wanted to do was read the book, I become engrossed in it. The pace was quick, the characterizations true to all the books that came before. Some major plots points from previous books were brought to conclusion, as is to be expected in a book approaching the climax of a series. We discover how the split in the White Tower turns out. Does Egwene get executed or succeed in her bid to become the recognized Amyrlin seat? Does Aviendha become a full Wise One? Can Rand make peace with the Seanchan so he can focus all his attention on the last battle? Some questions were answered, yet I was ready for more. When I finished the book, I was sad that I couldn't continue the story. I eagerly await the second part of the final book. Happy reading!

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