Wheel of Time #12: The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Read: 28 April, 2015

Sunk cost fallacy is a nasty trick. After reading so many books in the Wheel of Time, there was no way to stop. I’d invested too much of my life in this series (I began nearly a year ago), so how could I stop now? Even so, Crossroads of Twilight severely tried my resolve. Knife of Dreams was back to form (great ideas, interesting characters, but all surrounded by so much slog) and gave me the push to continue, but I have been getting rather annoyed with the series for a few books now.

Which perfectly primed me for The Gathering Storm. This was a fantastic new addition to the series. Brandon Sanderson managed to revitalize the plot and get me excited about what was going on in a way that I just haven’t been in a while (and, honestly, other than a few peaks per book, haven’t been at all in this series). Best of all, he did it without allowing me to notice the change. The continuity between Jordan and Sanderson was impeccable, yet I suddenly found myself on the edge of my seat, fairly consistently from about 1/3 of the way into the book until its end. He did a great job of capitalizing on the character histories set up by Jordan to raise the stakes.

The book is focused almost exclusively on Rand and Egwene. Egwene has been one of the characters who’s kept my interested throughout, and it was great to see her reunification of the White Tower.

Rand, on the other hand, has been almost a sort of side character for most of the series. Here, however, Cadsuane’s warnings about his inability to laugh start to make a lot more sense as we spent more time in Rand’s head. His insistence that he feels nothing even while he does terrible things while overcome with anger felt very real and familiar (I’ve certainly known my fair share of young men who claim to be beings of pure rationality, far beyond the petty emotions of ordinary people – particularly women and minorities – even while it’s plainly obvious how completely they are deceiving themselves).

(SPOILERS: I’m not sure how I feel about Rand’s sudden epiphany at the end. After such a slow descent, the speed with which he appears to recover at the climax of the novel seems a little forced. It works as a climax, and it’s certainly interesting to see Rand defeating the Dark One in himself rather than an external threat, but I dislike epiphanies in general. I reserve judgement until the next book, however, since we won’t see until then how well or how easily it takes.)

I really enjoyed this addition to the series. As I said above, I was on the edge of my seat for most of it, which is no small feat when the conflicts were either internal (in Rand’s case) or rather complex (in Egwene’s). For the first time in a while, I’m really excited to begin the next one.

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More books in the Wheel of Time series:

  1. Series: The Wheel of Time
  2. Prequel: New Spring (graphic novel version)
  3. The Eye of the World (graphic novel version)
  4. The Great Hunt
  5. The Dragon Reborn
  6. The Shadow Rising
  7. The Fires of Heaven
  8. Lord of Chaos
  9. Crown of Swords
  10. The Path of Daggers
  11. Winter’s Heart
  12. Crossroads of Twilight
  13. Knife of Dreams
  14. The Gathering Storm, with Brandon Sanderson
  15. Towers of Midnight, with Brandon Sanderson
  16. A Memory of Light, with Brandon Sanderson

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