The Gathering Storm – Book 12 of The Wheel of Time

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The Gathering Storm, Book 12 of the successful Wheel of Time series was recently released, which is a neat trick, considering the fact that the author of the series, Robert Jordan, passed on some time ago. Jordan’s widow asked Brandon Sanderson, a successful author in his own right, to complete the series. Sanderson intends that the series will be complete with book 14.

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I have mixed feelings about The Wheel of Time series. I have by turns been a big fan and completely frustrated by the ever-expanding, often-rambling nature of the story and cast of characters. I despaired of ever seeing a satisfactory end to it in my lifetime long before Jordan died. Turns out, however, that Sanderson is a steady hand on the tiller and may actually be able to see this bloated ship safely into the harbor. If you haven’t ever read any portion of this series, don’t expect me to summarize it here. for that, the best place to go is one of the many fansites, like this one, or this one  or the wiki page. 

The best things about this book are that it’s entertaining in a way that this series has always been when it was at its best, and it cuts out a lot of the agonizing dross that had come to characterize the series at its worst.  Sanderson has shown himself to be well in control of the characters and plot of the series, which is saying a lot.  The only negatives are that we are now at book 12 and the end is still two (large) books away.  Book 13 is due sometime late in 2010 and book 14 the following year.  My guess is that those projections are optimistic.  Still, if you’re looking for an entertaining, engrossing read and you have some free time on your hands, the world of this series can be a fun place to hang out.

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38 thoughts on “The Gathering Storm – Book 12 of The Wheel of Time

  1. I heard about this series from a friend who was re-reading them for the nth time. He loved them so much the covers of the books were falling off. I’m now in the middle of book 8 and I feel too committed now to give up although I’m often tempted to. Is there any loss in just skipping to the end (i.e., book 12) to see how it turns out?

  2. Well, that’s a possibility I guess, if you don’t mind not knowing a lot of what happened. Though there is much unnecessary filler in the narrative, there are a lot of plot points that, if missed, will make you feel lost later. If you are really bogged down and don’t feel like you want to slog through it, you can just read the summaries of the books and/or chapters here.

  3. Brock,

    I suggest once going through all the books, because there are a lot of little fun things from books 7-11, but be ready to skip a lot of pages. Sadly Mr. Jordan got too engrossed into his world that he forgot he was telling a story. Book 9 “Winter’s Heart” is probably the best of this slow group of books. Book 11 has some good stuff too, particularly in the middle with a certain confrontation between two major characters.

    The Gathering Storm, however, is a breath of fresh air and a great throwback to the fantastic first five books. Mr. Sanderson keeps the action moving while also providing growth to major characters. His style is definitely different from Mr. Jordan’s but he gets the characters right.

  4. Dan, I agree with most of that.

    One thing I forgot to mention is that Sanderson is completeing this series based on a lot of notes and outlines and other work that Jordan left behind. Because of this, Jordan gets continuing credit for authorship of the final books along with Sanderson. I’m not sure how the Jordan/Sanderson split shakes out in actual fact, but I suspect that the basic plot is mostly Jordan, while the details and dialogue are mostly Sanderson.

    One difference I noticed right away is that Sanderson has a better sense of humor. This book has more actual funny moments than the previous ones. And there’s even a scene with a town of people who, every night are turned into ZOMBIES! Don’t know who gets credit for that, but it’s pretty awesome.

  5. I really enjoyed the latest book. I got so immersed in the story and characters that I forgot that it wasn’t Robert Jordan writing. It felt very natural. The book was tighter in that you didn’t have a lot of those spare threads about people you don’t care about (although, I did miss Elayne)

    I have to confess – I’ve never been a big Egwene fan, but she really shines in this book.

    He does have a good sense of humor – I saw him speak at a recent writer’s conference. He has a sort of self-deprecating way about him. I have to say that I am really impressed with his work here. Have any of you read his other stuff?

  6. FHL, I haven’t, but based on this, I’m sure I will in the future.

    Yeah, what’s the deal with no Elayne? That was a glaring hole in this book, but I guess there was no way to add her thread without making it way too long.

    I dig Egwene. More so now than ever. She’s a major stud. And what about the whole Verin thing? Wow. Never saw that coming. Ripped the rug right out from under me. It makes me want to go back and read her story to see if there were any hints about this outcome that I missed.

    I’m not crazy about how things ended up with Rand in this book. I’m also not crazy about Sanderson’s penchant for relating some critical scenes second hand. And the whole thing with Graendal was a big let down.

  7. MCQ,

    Moiraine warned Rand about Verin way back in book 5 before she went with the Aelfinn. I knew what that warning meant, and so I was just waiting for the day when it would be revealed.

    Personally I like that Sanderson focused on Rand for the most part in this book and seemingly resolved one of the main conflicts Rand has had. The lack of Rand over the past two books was annoying.

    As for the Forsaken, I think Jordan made a mistake on two fronts. 1. Having Rand and Moiraine remove the strongest and best of the Forsaken so early in his story, and then because of that 2. Reincarnating them. He certainly needed to get Ishamael back as a worthy opponent of the Dragon Reborn. Demandred, Semirhage, Graendal, Maasena, Moghedien have nothing but surprise as an advantage against the Dragon. Ravhin was a challenge, as was Sammael. The most deadly, Lanfear, was also dispatched fairly early. The fact that the strongest were out so quickly forced Jordan to find a way to bring them back.

  8. Yeah, the Forsaken revolving door is a stupid plot trick. I like the focus on Rand in this book, but I don’t like the outcome. It seemed kinda silly.

    With all due respect, I don’t believe that you predicted this outcome for Verin. I’ll need to see some proof. I want a blog post or journal entry or letter to your cousin dated prior to October 27, 2009. Otherwise, I call BS.

  9. haha, I’m not saying that I predicted it. I’m only saying that when I read it, I felt that Jordan was setting us up for that revelation. The warning that Moiraine gives Rand about Verin is way back in Book 2, I believe, just as they are departing Fal Dara.

  10. Oops, I was right the first time. In The Fires of Heaven, in the letter Moiraine has given to Rand to be opened only after the Lanfear scene, she notes that Rand should be watchful of Verin as he is of Alvairin. I can’t remember if by this point the reader is aware that Alvairin is black ajah.

  11. I have this book, but I still feel like I need to brush up on what happened in all the previous ones. With the releases of the last couple of Harry Potter books, I would just re-read the series, so as to be able to catch all the moments when foreshadowing actually came to fruition. Jordan’s series, however, is far too long to make that feasible––a time investment of thousands of pages. Thanks for the links to the summaries!

  12. When I was a teenager (crap that’s more than twenty years ago) I was absolutely in love with this series. I read every book that had been released and would anxiously await the new installment. As is well acknowledged now, it kind of all fell apart. I read Winter Heart but at that point I threw in the towel. I’ve decided to just wait for it all to end, then I’ll get back in to see what it takes to wrap up this behemoth.

    I’ve checked out so completely, I didn’t even realize that book 12 was out, but apparently my wait is not over. I guess I’ll be waiting for book 14. Fourteen?!? I’m afraid I’ll have to hunt through my mom’s house to find all the previous installments and read them over to catch myself back up.

  13. I just finished Gathering Storm, and agree that it is as good as the early books. Two things I noticed in this one that I wish were features of many of the later ones: only one woman smoothed her dress, once; and we only got descriptions of a couple of tapestries. Seriously, you edit those two features alone from the rest of the series, and we are only on book Nine now.

  14. And the fake swearing. Light! Burn me, but I wish these flaming books were shorter! Blood and bloody ashes! Excuse my language.

  15. What about all the talk about fine ankles and well turned calves. That crap took up lots of space. Im glad they didnt talk (to death) about the guilding of every dresser, chair and door as well. It was there but extremely muted. This book felt more direct to me. I know im a little late on the comments but thats cause i re-read the series a little before book 12 came out. Does anyone else think they should make an HBO miniseries out of this?

  16. Oh and p.s. i thought the ending was pretty cool. I hope it sets us up for a kick ass start to book 13.

  17. I just recently reread the whole series too. I agree that there is a lot less surplussage and silly repetitive cliche in the latest book. I attribute this to Sanderson’s more spare style, and I like it a lot better than the unfiltered Jordan in the other books. Having said that, on the second time through, reading the series as it should be read, with no pause between the books, it was better than it was the first time through. You pick up on the reason for including some of the detail when you read the series that way.

    I would like to see this series as a series of movies (ala Harry Potter) or maybe as a TV miniseries (HBO could probably pull it off) but I think doing it right would be difficult. It would take a very deft touch, and someone who was very familiar with the series (which, at this point, is difficult in and of itself). I’m not very optimistic that it will be done any time soon, and even less optimistic that it will be done right.

  18. I agree with you about reading the storys straight through. While it felt like it took forever i got to pick up on parts in the early books that foreshadowed events in the later book. this book had more profound moments peppered through the entire book (Verins confession, Rand using the true power, exiling Cad, etc.)

    i would also like to see this as a series as well but i hope they dont try to make an avatar style cartoon out of it. Id love to see who they cast as the characters. On another note it would be pretty cool if they were able to make this into a PS3 or X box style game. Anyway i totally feel like i showed up to this discussion way late, but i cant wait for the next book to come out.

  19. I imagine that the chances of a Wheel of Time series happening depend greatly on the success or not of the A Song of Ice and Fire series that HBO is working on.

  20. Actually an Avatar styled cartoon would probably be vastly superior to live action. (There’s just no budget that could do justice to the books – due to actor salaries if nothing else!)

  21. I guess while the Avatar style movie would be OK i guess what i meant more was they should avoid the Beowulf style animation (or are they both the same IDK lol). I just thought seeing real actors would be pretty cool. Anyone got any cool ideas for actor/actress choices? My picks would be hugh Jackman for Lan, Sam Elliott as Tom, and Fred Ward as Gareth. i know those are easy ones to cast but id love to hear others ideas.

  22. Hugh Jackman is not nearly menacing enough for Lan. He’s got to be a big guy, and good looking in a very scarred and rugged sort of way, but not a movie star type like Jackman. Plus, Lan speaks very rarely and you cannot imagine him singing and dancing even on pain of death. Jackman would be wasted in that role. Viggo Mortenson would be better, though he’s not big enough.

    Sam Elliot is perfect looking for Tom, but I don’t know if he can sing and juggle. That’s a requirement for the role of Tom.

    Fred Ward is not good looking enough for Gareth Bryne. Remember that Siuan Sanche has to fall in love with him and she’s no giddy school girl. He has to be very dignified and really a strong, almost mythic, general. I don’t think Fred Ward can pull that off. Mel Gibson is more the type of actor needed there.

    The hardest roles to cast will be the three male leads, especially Rand. They have to be very young but still be able to be on screen a lot of the time. Don’t know who that would be.

  23. I’m assuming that the reason you are discussing this now is because it took you this long to read the book. Yeesh, it is long.

  24. Yeah i just finished the book like a month or two ago. I started rereading the series like a month before the book was released.

  25. I agree with you MCQ it is gonna be pretty tough to cast this movie. i know we all have ideas of who we think would “look” great for some of the roles but they might not fit the role because of how they talk/acting style.

  26. Hey, Wm Morris, would you care to expound on “A Song Of Ice And Fire?” I haven’t heard a thing about that yet. What’s the story?

  27. HBO has ordered 10 episodes of Game of Thrones (which I assume will cover just the first book) and are using the tagline Winter is Coming. Expected air date is next spring. Here’s a fansite with info: http://www.westeros.org/GoT/

    HBO has made a teaser that doesn’t really show anything: http://www.alltrailers.net/game-of-thrones.html

    I know people who know someone in the Martin camp, and he has been involved in the shooting, esp. with the pilot.

    Some fans are pissed at any report of his involvement because they think he should be finishing the series. He is actively working on it, though.

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