The Gathering Storm is the twelfth book in the WoT series... hum... well I don't think that this book really needs any introduction but let's just say that it was written by Brandon Sanderson based in part on the notes provided by Robert Jordan before his death and all he had written for A Memory of Light, the supposed title for the last book. For those of you who want to read this book and haven't read a WoT novel in a long while, check out this WoT recap. As for myself, I finished Knife of Dreams last year in audio book so everything was still fresh to my memory.
Concisely... The Dragon Reborn is looking to make peace with the invading Seanchan while trying to secure peace in Arad Doman and make his feelings harder than steel. Egwene is enduring the worst to continue her defiance of Elaida. Tuon is finally crowning herself empress of her people and Mat is looking for a way back to more proper civilization. Perin is back with Faile, Nynaeve and Cadsuane are trying to help Rand to remember smiling, the forsaken are still plotting behind the curtains and the Dark One stirs. The wheel weaves as the wheel wills.
So, Tarmon Gai'don is still waiting to unleash its fury and we have a trilogy instead of a one book ending... but with my reading of The Gathering Storm done, I have to say that I'm glad to have two more novels to read in the same good old universe, and this with a fresh take. I was surprisingly amazed to feel right at home after reading a couple of chapters. Sanderson's writing is not the same as Jordan's but in my opinion, he skilfully succeeded in recreating the atmosphere of the world of Jordan. I often had the feeling that I was reading a novel by the late author. Maybe simply because it was the same characters in the same world but I will give the full credit to Brandon.
The story of The Gathering Storm ends more plots than the two or three last books. This is a nice progress for the general plot but the first 300 or so pages were kind of lagging at times. Hopefully, I felt that things were finely moving on after that. This is the story of Egwene rise and Rand personal struggle. That struggle was the main interest for me in the book. The farmboy rise to prophetic status is now terribly classic, but in this case at least, that rise is worth following. Aside from this though, there was some less compelling moments. Gawyn storyline was kind of a bore and some PoV choices like Cadsuane at certain chapters didn't feel right for me. Oh and just a little something I realized, how come Rand didn't give a damn about Mazrim Taim???
As I said, most of the story in this iteration is about Rand and Egwene. I was ecstatic to see that Elayne was not in the book, I always hated this character, way too annoying. By the way, something else that Jordan often wrote about that I disliked was the Aes Sedai (and sometimes any other women) destructing glances. Every Aes Sedai eventually had a more deep, penetrating and disconcerting look or sight. We were finally delivered from this. Also, the author didn't put too much explanations of the past story from the other books, good thing.
The central humorous element of Jordan's work is Mat. I dreaded (well... maybe that's too strong a word) reading Mat PoV chapters because of what I read in reviews on other blogs. Some said that Sanderson was off target with Mr. Cauthon. I don't agree. I have to admit that it feels a little strange when but judging by the situation in which Mat is, he ought to feel changed. He just left Tuon and almost everything is going wrong. His best moments were not in this book but still, I enjoyed his chapters. To remain in the humorous or rather amusing moments, Sanderson used a lot or created new names for the sword fighting forms in battles. I had plenty of grins, beware the Lotus Closes Its Blossom.
Wolrdbuilding was pretty much done but Sanderson had to use it correctly in order to achieve the right ambience. He said in an interview that this was one of his biggest challenges since he was used to write stories set mostly in one city. Here again, kudos to Brandon. The descriptions of every place I remember in the book are effective. I don't have much to add about the magic system since it's already well established.
Why should you read this book? Definitely because you've read the eleven novels preceding this one and you can't stop there even if it was not written by Jordan. Brandon Sanderson did a great work, I think it was a judicious choice.
Technically, the Tor cover is totally awful except for the fact that it really represent a scene from the book and that Rand hand is missing... The hardcover edition of the novel is 766 pages. The beautiful map of the world of the WoT is still printed inside both covers and there's a map of the city of Bandar Eban inside the book. A glossary is also included at the end of the book, which could be useful for people who haven't read a book in the series in a while.
World building............... 8.5 / 10
Magic system................. 8 / 10
Story.............................. 8 / 10
Writing........................... 8.5 / 10
Overall (not an average) 8.5 / 10