For those who don’t know, author of the Mistborn series and now the Way of Kings series Brandon Sanderson took on the daunting task of finishing Robert Jordan’s magnum opus, The Wheel of Time. To Sanderson’s credit, The Gathering Storm “fits.” It doesn’t stand out as another author’s writing; he captured Jordan’s voice perfectly.
He makes slightly more extensive use of italics to provide emphasis, and there are many scenes that seem to play out a little differently that one might expect. Sometimes, that’s a good thing. For example, Egwene’s plot in the White Tower, and Nynaeve’s quieter ruminations on Rand’s psyche. I feel like had Jordan penned that all himself, Egwene would have been much “harder,” and thus, less likeable. Or it would have emphasized the wrong aspects of her mindset to highlight her struggle. Nynaeve’s personality seems completely different. She’s far more brooding, and does a better job of picking her battles. I feel like this is more the result of the author change than character growth. The character of Talmanes’s new sense of humor seems entirely the handiwork of Sanderson. In short, all of the characters are just plain more likeable than before.
On the down side, there are a few scenes that lacked the Jordan “ah ha!” touch. They suffered due to too much foreshadowing to the point of being predictable. Tam’s disastrous reappearance, and the announcement of the Hall of the Tower’s decision on the bridge of Tar Valon spring to mind. Each one suffered from just one line of misplaced dialogue in previous scenes that inched toward what the scene would be, and then just barely nudged it over the line into “obvious consequence” territory, ruining the surprise. For instance, if the secret meeting had ended one page earlier than it did, it would have served its purpose of reminding the reader who these characters were and what their role was behind the scenes without giving away their decision.
I think the other major factor that makes me love this book is that it finally, finally, FINALLY wraps up all the plots that started five books earlier in the Path of Daggers: Cadsuane’s goal, Rand’s hardening and apathy, Rand’s madness, Perrin vs Masema, Perrin and Faile, Egwene vs Elaida. All of them are finally resolved after being dragged out for fucking ever. The only one that isn’t is Elayne’s troubles in Andor. This is the opposite of Crossroads of Twilight which served as an 800 page prologue (which featured its own 100 page prologue. . . ) to Knife of Dreams. We also get the hints that Mat and Thom are finally going to the Tower of Ghenjei in book 13. About time. I feel like the Mat plot in KoD (the Tuon romance) could have been done entirely during CoT, leaving KoD to be about visiting the tower.