The Wheel of Time’s Empire Strikes Back
I’ll tackle the most important question first—After Robert Jordan’s died with the series unfinished, can I recommend The Wheel of Time to a newby now that the series has been finished by another author? I could give a slightly qualified ‘yes’ after this book. All qualifications came off after reading Towers of Midnight, and that ‘yes’ holds after reading the final installment. The Gathering Storm is book 12 of 14 in The Wheel of Time series and is the first co-authored by Brandon Sanderson after Jordan’s passing.
Jordan made plans for the completion of his opus but only wrote around 200 of the remaining 2,500 pages. Rather than a detailed outline, he left primarily copious, albeit incomplete notes. More than a mere ghostwriter was needed. To that end, Jordan’s widow (and editor) chose a young fantasy writer established in his own right. And given the challenges Sanderson has performed admirably. The inevitable difficulties in changing authors is much more evident here than in Towers of Midnight. Most notably, Sanderson struggles greatly finding Mat’s voice.
The Gathering Storm is definitely the Empire Strikes Back of The Wheel of Time. Things get to their darkest in the series. The torrid pace of Knife of Dreams not only continues, but picks up. The story focuses on Rand and Egwene far more than it has on so few characters in a long, long time (this is in part based on a conscious choice how to split the books, and many of the characters’ storylines in Towers of Midnight begin well before the events at the end of The Gathering Storm). Each gets a Crowning Moment of Awesome, and each is of a very different sort. It’s that focus that saves The Gathering Storm—the two storylines are two strong (and in a welcome change, so integral to the overall story) that there vastly outweigh Sanderson’s growing pains.
Supergirls ‘It’s a Trap!’ Counter: The Gathering Storm-0, total-8
Original or new cover? Original. (Original 4, New 9)