THE GATHERING STORM
Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
What is it about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series that has managed to keep such a large audience enthralled for so many years? Since the release of The Eye of the World back in January 1990 legions of fans have doggedly followed the fortunes of that original group of heroes who set out from Two Rivers, even as the series grew and grew to encompass the fates of many more players.
Most fans will admit to frustration in recent years as Robert Jordan continued to allow the story to diverge further and further from the original plot line. By the tenth book, Crossroads of Twilight, it looked like the story might never come to a conclusion and the release a year later of a prequel, New Spring, produced a huge outcry from Jordan’s despairing readership. Finally the message seemed to get through – enough with the new plot threads and divergences, it’s time for some closure. This wasn’t a call for Robert Jordan to wrap everything up and never write another Wheel of Time book, just a plea to conclude the central story before playing around with prequels and sequels and other spin-offs.
Shelving plans to write another two prequels, Jordan pumped out Knife of Dreams and suddenly there was light at the end of the tunnel as a few loose threads were finally tied up and the final battle began to draw closer. But, just two months after the release of Knife of Dreams, in December 2005, Robert Jordan was diagnosed with a fatal heart condition. He dedicated himself to the final volume, A Memory of Light which he vowed he would wrap everything up in, “even if it reaches 2,000 pages”. Knowing he may not live to finish it, however, he wrote copious notes so that “someone could finish A Memory of Light and have it end the way I want it to end”.
It was with Jordan’s untimely death in 2007 that that someone became Brandon Sanderson and now, four years after the 11th book was released, we finally have The Gathering Storm. And the verdict? Well, the combination of Sanderson and Jordan’s detailed notes has turned out to be an extremely good one. More loose threads have been tied up and the pace has definitely quickened now that we’ve hit the final straight and the end is in sight. Sanderson has a great feel for the characters and it feels very much like he has stuck closely to the script provided by Jordan. If he has struck out on his own in some areas, he has done so very convincingly and (unlike some previous Wheel of Time volumes) every page seems essential to the story.
This book will come as a huge relief for everyone caught up in The Wheel of Time saga and, better yet, there are still two more books to look forward to, knowing that all our questions will soon be answered!