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The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan

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Authors: Robert Jordan,Brandon Sanderson / Format: Paperback / Date of publication: 07 October 2010 / Genre: Fantasy / Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group / Title: The Gathering Storm / ISBN 13: 9781841492322 / ISBN 10: 1841492322 / Alternative EAN: 9781841491653

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      29.03.2011 15:34
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      A return to form for the Wheel of Time series

      Rand Al'Thor is the Dragon Reborn, a title given to the man prophesised to both break and save the world from the evil force of the Dark One, antithesis to the Creator. The previous eleven books have detailed the life of Rand Al'Thor and his friends, snatched up by an Aes Sedai in the night - the name given to the witches of the world and told that the weight of the world falls on their shoulders. This Tolkienesque epic fantasy has so far detailed the rise of the Dragon and the political and military manoeuvrings as the fellowship try to prepare the world for the Last Battle; a battle that has happened infinite times before, and a battle that will happen at the end of every Third Age due to the cyclic nature of time in Robert Jordan's world.

      With only one book to go the series looked like it would finally be finished, until the unfortunate death of the author, who once joked his notes would be destroyed upon death. Announcement of an illness however changed his mind so his wife (who also his editor) chose a new author to continue the series - Brandon Sanderson, a lesser known author responsible for the Mistborn series has taken the helm. The notes left however for the 'last book' were too much however, so once again, the series has been elongated. The Gathering Storm is the first of what will become three books, and had fans on edge not only because of the new author who has a different writing style, but it also represents the beginning of the end. So let's see how the new book lives up.

      At this point in the story we have Rand, having already conquered large parts of the world, going for more and trying to ease the suffering of the people affected by the Dark One's touch on the world. Egwene, a young Aes Sedai and leader of a rebel faction has been captured and continues to try to undermine the authority of the White Tower, an organisation of witches who, instead of getting ready for the Last Battle, are too busy with a civil war. Also present throughout the story are Mat and Perrin, friends of Rand with duties of their own. In short, Robert Jordan left a lot of stories open, and (as apparent in the later books of the series) was reluctant to close stories. Whilst the epic plot and huge storylines are what made this series fantastic, the series went downhill after book seven, with too much time being given to the stories of side characters and with major plotlines developing too little and too slowly. The series stagnated, and with so few books left, events need to start happening.

      Brandon Sanderson therefore is the man for the job. Unlike the prose of Robert Jordan, which ended up heavy on description, Sanderson's writing is a little faster paced with less description of attire and gilt for example. He hasn't tried to copy the style of Jordan and what this means is a faster paced tale that actually end up getting things done. As with the previous books the plot gets more complicated and characters develop, though at the same times, plots are being finished, and the end feels near. After twelve books and a prequel all concerning preparation for the Last Battle there is an epic feeling, a feeling of imminent inevitability, though writing does have its downsides. The slower pace of Robert Jordan let character development occur more naturally and though it was frustrating at times, it felt natural. The development of characters under Sanderson occasionally feels unnatural, where development happens through mere logical thought and conversation and can happen within a couple of paragraphs. Sanderson also has the habit of telling, not showing and gone is much of the subtlety of Robert Jordan's writing that had us for eight books guessing who killed a certain character. This could merely be the natural outcome of the faster pace of the books, an evil necessary to tie up all loose ends in only three books.

      Jordan created an epic world that felt alive, full of rivalries and politics, beliefs and different cultures, with an in depth magic system of weaving threads. Sanderson successfully manages to keep this epic feeling alive, his writing adding to an already vibrant world.

      The Gathering Storm isn't the perfect book, but it is the book that the Wheel of Time series needed; a book that would pick up the pace and finish plots, a book that brought the focus back to the main story rather than focusing on frivolous stories of Monarchic wars of Succession. Whilst the writing of Sanderson doesn't have delicate intricacy of Robert Jordan, the benefits equal the negatives because it is due to Sanderson that finally, the end of the Wheel of Time feels imminent. I'd advise anyone who gave up on the series due to Robert Jordan's death to reconsider the series, and whilst potential new fans won't be able to jump in on book twelve of such an epic tale, I'd advise the Wheel of time series to anyone interested in fantasy books because though the quality does dip for a while it truly is an epic fantasy that looks to be ending on a high.

      The Gathering storm can be purchased from Amazon for £5.12 in paperback and for those with a new interest in the series; the Eye of the World (the first book in the series) can be procured for around the same price.

      ISBN : 978-1-84149-165-3

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        05.09.2010 09:40
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        Thankfully some action

        The Gathering Storm is the 12th novel in the Wheel of Time fantasy series begun by Robert Jordan and continued by Brandon Sanderson after Jordans death.

        Wheel of Time

        The Wheel of Time is a fantasy series of books about the Dragon reborn, Rand Al'Thor, he is a youngman who can wield the male side of the source of magic. Rand has the voice of Lews Thewin, the previous Dragon in his head, Lews met the dark lord and was vanguished, however, in the process the dark lord was imprisoned. In Rands time frame the prison is starting to break and the final meeting between the dragon and the dark lord is approaching.

        The story also includes tales of Rands friends, two MAtt and Perrin are Ta'avaran, that is they can influence events by their very presence. Matt is a chancer, womeniser and gambler and Perrin a sturdy man who can talk to wolves. Also there are women friends who have become Aes Sedai who can wield the female side of the source without worries about corruption.

        The series progressed well in the early novels but the latter novels increased in size but not in quality. However, with the death of Jordan after the 11th novel it was decided to ask Brandon Sanderson to finish the wheel of time in three novels and this is the first.

        The previous novel left Rand facing the Sanchean, they are an army from over the seas who force magic wielders to do their will through magical manacles. They are powerful and Rand needs to get them on his side before the final meeting with the dark one, Matt is married to the leader of the Sanchean and Perrin is still trying to understand his powers with wolves. The girls (Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve) in the stories are starting to come together in the story about the seige of the white tower, the white tower is the home of the Aes Sedai.

        The Gathering Storm

        The gathering storm finally starts to bring together some of the story threads and starts to bring together the stories before the final battle between Rand and the dark lord. This book concentrates on the fate of the White Tower, the quest of Egwene to become the leader of the tower reaches a conclusion and we start to get satisfying answers to the black Ajah storyline. This is the central part of the story, it has exciting magic wielding battles, intrigues and is thankfully short of the annoying phrases Jordan used to pepper his conversations between magic wielding sisters. So thankfully there are few mentions of adjusting skirts, folding arms under bosoms and drinking tea.

        Thankfully some of the lesser characters who had become wearisome to read about rather than enhancing the story are either sidelined, brought to a conclusion or brought into a more central storyline.

        This book is definitely an improvement on the previous three or four novels, it rolls along at a more satisfying pace and doesn't give the impression of padding. There are exciting events and there is a sense that the Wheel of Time magical series might actually finish with a bang rather than a whimper. I almost gave up on the series after the Winters Heart novel but after reading this one I'm glad I persisted and I'm hopeful for an exciting conclusion.

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