Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson
Rating: Buy, Paperback, Used
Mrs. Bugbear is a tolerant and patient woman. She's upfront, honest and doesn't try to manipulate or play dominance games and long-sufferingly accepts my bibliophilia. In short she's nothing like any of the domineering, immature caricatures of women that populate the Robert Jordan epic the Never-Ending Wheel of Brutal Torture, aka The Wheel of Time series.
I don't like to make light about someone's death, but there is a certain irony in the original author dying before such a long series has been concluded. Robert Jordan was certainly a skilled author, he's kept the interest of his readers in a series that started publication in 1990. In my case he's managed it by holding out the hope of seeing some of the main characters die. Not since reading David Fientuch's Seafort Saga have I yearned (nay burned with the need) to see irredeemable main characters die. I actually find the minions of evil to be much less irritating than the main characters in the Never-Ending Wheel of Brutal Torture. Perhaps it's just the fact that the evil characters get less 'screen-time' than the main characters and hence are less developed but nonetheless I prefer the infrequent appearances of evil characters to most of the main characters and the main female characters in particular. In fact given a choice I'm hoping that the Dark One wins.
Yet the series still manages to suck me in and that is the sign of an author of some talent. The series is very detailed, but what can you expect after twelve frickin' books. In fact the series almost borders on information overload. But enough of my general complaints with the series. The book itself is actually not bad, not great but okay bordering on good even. Okay one more comment on the series in general, I'm surprised the Dragon was reborn given the shrewish nature of the women of the world, that 50-50 chance of another shrew would make most men look at a woman and say "WHOA! No. Frickin'. Way".
My chief complaint with the book itself is a lack of 'what has gone before' section. Generally I just skim this part in most books but the last book in the Never-Ending Wheel of Brutal Torture was published in 2005 and in this case I needed the memory refresh. Its lack was irritating and I don't have the time to re-read all twelve frickin' books. I can better spend the time re-reading The Tuloriad now that I've received my dead-tree version.
If you like Jordan's writing style then you're in for something of a pleasant surprise since Sanderson manages to very nearly hit the same tone and pace of Jordan. I've read that Jordan had written a portion of the book before his death and left many notes so perhaps that contributes to Sanderson's success in replicating Jordan's style. I said 'very nearly' because Sanderson actually seems to pick up the pace a bit. The author's foreword warns that it's going to take three more books to complete the series so the pace is only slightly faster than the usual glacial pace of the rest of the Never-Ending Wheel of Brutal Torture. If you trim the baggage of the previous twelve frickin' books then The Gathering Storm is an average epic fantasy book. It's good enough that I'm considering trying some of Sanderson's other books, but I'm worried that those series might catch the same bug that has infested the Never-Ending Wheel of Brutal Torture. If you've enjoyed the other books in the Wheel of Time series then you'll like A Gathering Storm since it seems to be...well more of the same. As in three more frickin' books of the same [sigh].
Providing a rating for this book was difficult, on one hand to be impartial I need to consider this book on its own merits and the flaws are slow pacing, the aforementioned necessity for a refresh of past events and the horrible shrews that are the women of the Never-Ending Wheel of Brutal Torture. I find it difficult to divorce merits of The Gathering Storm from the general faults of the Never-Ending Wheel of Brutal Torture. So in the end The Gathering Storm gets a composite rating of Buy Paper Back Used or roughly a 2.5 out of 5.
I'm still cheering for the Dark One at Tarmon Gaidon though.