The Gathering Storm (Wheel of Time, Book 12) is the first of the last three books of the Wheel of Time. Jordan spent a lot of books building a fantasy epic. He spun up an awful lot of threads, plots, and characters. It was clear at the time of his death that he was completely incapable of ending the series in a single book. Jordan has been branching and decelerating his story for years. It wasn’t within his capability to turn that around in short order.
Sanderson came to the rescue after Jordan’s death; I suspect Jordan would have continued for another 11 books if he hadn’t. It’s definitely sad that Jordan has passed away, but I’m glad the series finally got put into the hands of somebody who could finish it. Prior to the 12th book, I have been reading the series begrudgingly and with increasing frustration — Jordan left a festering mess of a thing behind.
And Sanderson has indeed rescued the series. Book 12 is far more polished than I expected. It’s full of forward motion in the various plots and themes. This is a radical departure from recent books in the series. He manages to effectively write in Jordan’s voice. There are things that definitely stand out and feel out of place, but the story itself seem coherent with the books that came before. Usually what feels “odd” is a single sentence or paragraph, but nothing about what’s happening in the story. And, to be frank, Jordan wasn’t that great of a writer, so I’m not saying Sanderson’s particular style is bad, it’s just appreciably different. And, to give him credit, Sanderson writes Rand just as fucking irritatingly as Jordan did — I still cringe every time I see a dragon at the start of a chapter. His female characters are also paper-thin, true to Jordan’s form.
So, bravo for choosing the guy. He’s going to close out the series, and I can be done with it.
I’m happy with the book. At the end of Knife of Dreams I just felt exhausted and like I’d wasted several hours of my life. At the end of this book, I feel much more satisfied and hopeful. I’m looking forward to finishing the series now. It’s hard to judge the book independent of the epic or the circumstances of its production, but I’m leaning towards 7/10.