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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Review: The Gathering Storm

Where to begin? I have been obsessed with Robert Jordan and his Wheel of Time Epic since the first time I picked up Eye of The World somewhere around 15 years ago.

The most recent installment of this Epic fantasy was co-authored by a gentleman named Brandon Sanderson. His very heartfelt blog on RJ’s death lead Harriet (RJ’s Wife and editor) to select him to complete this series and all I have to say is Kudos! In an effort to understand Sanderson I read Elantris and then most of the Mistborn trilogy (I stopped reading the last book as soon as TGS came out with only 100 pages to go, which I begin again tomorrow) I feel Brandon has done an exemplarily job of writing in RJ’s place.

I feel, as an avid reader of WOT (have read the series every year since 1994); Tat Brandon manages to capture the essence of RJ very well. There are some very noticeable differences between both authors but the inert material remains on the whole just fantastic.

I want to first applaud Brandon on his ability to captivate a few of our characters. The sections about Egwene and the white tower were just about perfect. I had a hard time during these sections remembering this was not RJ! In addition the portrayal and turn of events in the rebel camp and the Aes Sedai (especially Siuan) was well played. Brandon also does an exemplarily job with Rand and making him seem more dark and dangerous. I think it is exactly what RJ was thinking when he first took Rand down this path during the battle between him and the Seanchan around Ebou Dar. Tuon is another character that was treated very well by Brandon. He captured her perfectly, and her change to Fortuna was just as I imagined it. The last Characters I really felt were well portrayed were Silvania, whom I always thought might have a larger role once Egwene regained the tower. And Verin. Verin was just freakin awesome! When she first lies I sat up straight and said, “I knew it!” I had an inkling of her allegiance to the dark lord for sometime, but was never able to say why, nor was I aware of the nature of that affiliation, but it makes much sense (where is the Horn of Valere I wonder? She was aware of its presence of it in the White Tower; did a forsaken have her remove it I wonder??

Nynaeve’s character took an unfortunate step back in this edition, not too terrible of a step but she was finally becoming more Aes Sedai and here her old temper flares again. While this works in some ways, especially in regards to Rand and her playing the role of Wisdom again, it really killed what I thought would be a great development for Nynaeve (I always saw her and Moiraine becoming some sort of friends or at least working together to fix Rand).

Perrin and Faile were both pretty much the same, but nothing special happened to their characters. Brandon did no harm to these characters but between the minimal time they had on ‘screen’ and the time they do have is pretty flat and useless. There is also mention of Rand seeing them in his Taverene swirl talking to Galad, and we never do find out what that was about, I was like WTF?

Aviendha is another character who seemed to pander, but after some useless screen time (and Labor) she makes a big move in development, which was great to see, but I could not seem to believe she would be so close to Rand and just ignore him as she does, especially after bonding him, and he has to know some of what she feels.

Unfortunately there are a few characters that did not develop well with the change of authors, Cadsuane was never one of my favorite characters, but Brandon lost sight of her in this book. She became very useless, her ‘teaching Rand and the Asha Man something they needed to know, she actually had nothing to do with it! Rand had a moment of self-realization, and Cadsuane had little to do with it. I was also disappointed with her character becoming less up front and in charge, she seemed to loose some of her Bitchyness.

Min is another character I am confused about. She was always blatant about pushing herself into Rands every moment, and even before her unfortunate run in with Semirage she seemed more withdrawn and less spit-fiery. I honestly believe, all the women have become less than their former selves, RJ created women who were larger than life, and it seems most of the women have come down a notch.

The worst Character is Matt. I read on another Blog, that maybe the biggest change in Matt was his level of vulgarity. The other Blogger thought that maybe Brandon just is not used to writing in such a foul manner (indeed, he uses little profanity in Mistborn and Elantris). It also the return of Matt being less in charge and worried and more of a Fop. This is very hard for me as Matt has always been my favorite; his use of expletives at the right time reminds me of myself. (I.e. Mothers Milk in a cup Joline, you can bloody well be in charge, we can just turn around and walk up to the bloody seanchan and see what happens to you, light –blinded, daughter of the sands!) Also I was looking forward to Matt’s journey to Genii and instead I was rewarded with another useless section on proving to me the Dark One is stirring. Did not need some half dead villagers to know that.

In fact Matt leads right into my biggest beef with this book. I am ready for Moiranie to come back; she has been and always will be my favorite character. I BAWLED like a small child when she was killed, and when Min said she had never been wrong but once with Moiraine and how Rand could not win without her, I knew she would be coming back. Then the letter to Thom in the last book and I am just about at my wits end waiting for her return! I always thought Matt would bring her back and her and Nynaeve would be able to convince Rand to become human again I thought Cadsuane would be their as wel and be proven black and Rand would have to pick to kill Cadsuane and save Moiraine in an effort to save himself, and he would realize killing women is OK as long as its justified. I don’t know, but I want Moiraine back!

I did wish we had some resolution with Taim and the emissaries sent from both factions of Aes Sedai to the Black Tower. I also wished for one more forsaken chapter in the end of the book. I also would have like to see a little of Elayne and maybe a glimpse of Padan Fain. But the book was already very full. Only Two left till the end I wonder what will happen next.

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