When one becomes three, you have to start somewhere
The Gathering Storm is the first of three books written largely by Brandon Sanderson to finish the Wheel of Time series following Robert Jordan’s death. Jordan left Sanderson an outline, extensive notes and even several whole chapters to use in the books, so his vision for Rand and company would be fulfilled in the way he intended, even if he himself didn’t get a chance to see it through. And while Jordan originally promised just one more book to finish the series, Sanderson was unable to see how to make that happen and, with the approval of both the publisher and Jordan’s wife, split the final book Jordan intended into three.
Egwene and Rand dominate this book. Theirs are the two stories with the furthest to go, so that statement is unsurprising. Egwene’s story takes almost an entire quarter of the book herself in her quest to usurp the usurper in Elaida and reunify the White Tower. Her work does not come easily, as she is regularly beaten, embarrassed and humiliated, but her time with the Aiel has forged her into tougher stuff than her enemies believe and, with some unexpected ‘help,’ she is able to do what she needs to claim the Amylin Seat. Sanderson proves to be a bit more direct than Jordan, revealing something in a straightforward way that had been speculated for a long time before this. This reveal allows Egwene to eventually prune the Black Ajah from both the rebels and the White Tower. One major Darkfriend is missed, but that is a story for the next book.
Rand breaks. His drive to be harder and harder shows its fatal flaw in his brittle, startlingly aggressive behavior. He breaks when Semirhage escapes and almost captures him. He breaks when his allies don’t live up to what he feels they should (you should feel bad for someone like Cadsuane, but she does get under your skin. Plus, it’s not like she doesn’t largely ignore Rand anyway and comes through in the end). He breaks one last time when Cadsuane and Nynaeve get together and reunite him with the unlikeliest of people. This breaking almost pushes him too far before he finally makes peace with himself and all the problems he both caused and is working to fix. His is the redemption story of Storm, and in the end, Rand comes through with shining colors.
Mat, Perrin and most of the rest of the cast sees some time in the book, but largely it is either focused through or on Egwene and Rand and their tribulations. And Sanderson proves his worthiness in doing so, as this book is both true to Jordan’s work, but at a faster pace that some readers will enjoy. The Gathering Storm is an excellent book and bridge from Jordan’s solo work to the combined efforts of the two authors.
Justin enjoys most games. He is currently learning the ins and outs of competitive modern Magic while enjoying all sorts of other gaming mediums, assuming he can find the spare time.