In one of those cases that is sure to make fans burn with envy, Jason Denzel, of Dragonmount, has had a chance to read, and review, The Gathering Storm, the first Wheel of Time novel to be published since Robert Jordan’s death.
Some snippets of the review:
The Gathering Storm is, in my opinion, quite easily one of the most intense and exciting books in the entire Wheel of Time series. Yes, you read that right. I avoided writing this review right after I finished reading. Instead, I purposely waited some time to let the initial rush and enjoyment wear off. It certainly has cooled a great deal, but I can still say with grounded and sober confidence that the book is outstanding. I would rank it up there in the top 4 in the series along with The Shadow Rising, The Fires of Heaven, and The Great Hunt. Pacing-wise, I would agree with Brandon Sanderson’s statement that it’s similar to books 4-6 in the series.
There is a scene towards the middle of the book that was so dramatic and intense, that I … I don’t even know to say it. As a long time fan of the novels, it rocked me to read it. I had to set the book down and let it soak in. Remember the intensity of Dumai’s Wells at the end of Lord of Chaos? This is like that, minus the armies. I am certain that in the years ahead, we’ll run polls on DM for the “Best Scenes in the Series”, and this will be one of the popular choices. Trust me. You’ll know it when you read it.
So now the other burning question: does this feel like a Robert Jordan novel? Does it have his “voice”? Well, truthfully, I thought the prose stayed very true to previous novels. … it seems like Brandon put himself into the heart of the saga and allowed himself to be its vessel and storyteller. The result is that this book is clearly and undeniably a novel which belongs in the WoT series. There were only a few times where I suspected the scene I was reading was entirely from Brandon’s imagination.
Even though it’s a thick tome, none of it feels padded or rushed. Before he was the writer tasked with finishing this series, he was a fan like you and me.
Guided by a strong plot outline, familiar characters, and a knowledge of the franchise that was honed to a razor sharp edge by lots of research, it became quickly apparent to me (or “intuitively obvious to the most casual observer”) that Brandon was the best person in the world to take this gig, and that he did as fine as a job as was even possible.
There’s no doubt that The Gathering Storm deserves an equal place on your top shelf next to the previous eleven volumes. Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson have crafted a remarkable novel fraught with dark, foreboding themes that will remind you why you first fell in love with the series to begin with. Even though we know it’s Brandon who pulled the actual words together, this is undeniably Robert Jordan’s work, and perhaps one of his best.
Now, as Jason admitted, no one out there has glasses more rose-tinted than he does. He was friends with Robert Jordan and his wife, Harriet; he [i]is[/i] friends with Brandon Sanderson; he runs the biggest website out there devoted to the series. One might consider that it’s in Jason’s best interest to pump up the novel, but equally that he might be a harsher critic than anyone, due to his love of the series.
Still, he has very positive things to say about the novel, and it should be a relief to fans of the series that Sanderson was able to hold his own in the world. Being frank, I prefer Sanderson’s prose, plotting and pacing to Jordan’s, so it’s nice to know that his touch is firmly on the novel. I doubt it will really be possible to judge the novel for a few years, once the initial reaction dies off and people have some time to properly analyze its place in the series, but this early review is no doubt a positive thing.
The quotes I pulled only scratch the surface of the lengthy review, so I urge any one interested (especially skeptics) to read the whole thing. Then come back here and let me know what you think of Sanderson taking over the series.