The brilliance continues with book twelve of The Wheel of Time series, carrying on the excitement from Knife of Dreams. Long gone is the mundaneness of Crossroads of Twilight. I couldn’t put this one down, and the realisation that The Wheel of Time will be over for me soon is dawning. It’s been well over a year, maybe even two, since I began The Eye of the World, and now I’m both excited and sad to see the end of it.
Fans of the series anxious about the fact that this is where Brandon Sanderson took over the writing of the novels needn’t worry. I barely noticed the transition; apparently a lot of the words in the last three books are Jordan’s own, and it is next to impossible to figure out which ones. Brandon Sanderson appears to have been a commendable choice so far. I just couldn’t believe that Robert Jordan thought he could have condensed the story into just one more book. There are many questions that still need answering, and I can definitely see the next two novels being absolutely jam-packed with action.
The Gathering Storm mainly follows Rand and Egwene, two of my favourite characters in the series. Any other points of view are pretty minor, and almost always focus on someone close to the events happening around either Rand or Egwene. I know I complained at one point on how it frustrated me when the author focused on one character for too long, but this time around I didn’t mind quite as much. Yes, I was curious to know what was going on in Caemlyn, and I would have preferred more time from Perrin and Mat. But unlike in previous books in the series, the stories of both Rand and Egwene are fast-paced and exciting enough for readers to not get bored. Add in viewpoints from characters such as Tuon and Nynaeve, and The Gathering Storm makes for an excellent read.
Egwene Al’Vere: the struggles of the rebel Amyrlin as a captive within the White Tower continues. Page by page you can see her unravelling the weakness of the White Tower, determined to pull Elaida down and make the tower whole again. Egwene is most certainly one of the strongest characters in the series. She is becoming an absolute powerhouse of influence in her world. I absolutely loved the chapter in which she finally challenges Elaida directly. It was the culmination of months of tension between Egwene and Elaida, rising to a crescendo and finishing off stunningly. When I was reading the chapter in question, I was on the point of drifting off to sleep. But as soon as the evening meal in Elaida’s quarters got exciting, I was practically jumping up and down on my bed.
The stories surrounding the White Tower are brilliant this time around. Whether it’s happening inside the walls or outside in the rebel camp, it’s fast paced and intriguing; be it the plot twist surrounding Verin, the foretold Seanchan attack, or the drama happening in the rebel camp, it all makes for a great read.
Rand Al’Thor: the coldness continues long into book twelve. Characters worry that the Dragon Reborn will not be stable enough to even reach Tarmon Gaidon. Rand’s role in this particular book in the series shows him to have become a remarkably distant and borderline cruel young man. Whether it is he himself dwelling on his newfound hardness, or other characters balking in fear at the mere sight of him, Rand continues to become a character in the series to be reckoned with. Rand’s story is both brilliant and saddening to read at this point. Like all the characters close to him, I found myself as reader willing him on; to try and become more like the easily awed, innocent farm boy he was when Moiraine first visited the Two Rivers.
There is a darkness upon Rand at this stage in the series, and it just remains to be seen if he will succumb to it. He hasn’t become evil, per se, but a shadow hangs over his character at this point in the series, affecting everything he does. It sabotages his relationships, and ruins plans for political manoeuvring. The battle between Rand and Lews Therin rages on, and we’re all left wondering whose voice will be victorious in the end.
Each book in The Wheel of Time series gets better and better, and now The Towers of Midnight, book thirteen and the penultimate novel in the series, sits beside me as I write this blog post. It’s been pulling at my attention all day, so I guess all that’s left for me to do is read on, and find out what the wheel of time will spin out next.