Gathering Storm Review

Posted by Unrepentant Escapist

September 28, 2009 -- 4:08 a.m.

Well, I've had a chance to read the Gathering Storm first chapter and listen to the second chapter for free online. I'm glad I did. (Spoilers follow).

Reading the first chapter was, honestly, a little jarring. Brandon wisely didn't try to imitate Robert Jordan's style, which meant that the voice felt completely different to me, with the result that it felt like reading well-written fan fiction. It just...wasn't the same. It made me feel Robert Jordan's loss keenly, not because Brandon wasn't doing a good job, but because it was like it finally hit home for me that I would never be reading anything else from Robert Jordan's bright light ever again. It was a recap chapter, so other than that, I pretty much reserved judgment, except that I felt confused that Rand's reaction to Egware was so strongly negative, but hopefully that will be explained a little better in the prologue. Maybe the hall of the rebel tower is still issuing pronouncements in the Amyrilin's name, pronouncements Rand doesn't like very much.

I also wondered why Rand needed a new sword? Did Semiharg destroy his old one in Knife of Dreams? I don't remember--I haven't re-read it in a long time. Anyway, there is much speculating on the sword, but my favorite guess is that it belongs to Artur Hawkwing...though why it would have a dragon on it and not a hawk, I don't know. But that's the only old sword I can think of that would have any interest to Rand and that he could remember from his old memories. Unless Tam had another stashed away in his closet somewhere.

I wonder what Tam al'Thor's up to, anyway? Surely its been long enough after Rand took Andor that his name has percolated back to him. I just finished re-reading Dragon Reborn, and since Tam and Abel visited the tower after their sons, I wondered if they went chasing them around again.

I also hope we find out where Gawain's lurking at. He should have heard about Elayne's enthroning too by now and should be reunited. Or have heard the name of Egwene mentioned. I liked him as a character, just because I sympathized with him being overlooked in comparison with his more handsome brother and his desire to protect Elayne.

Anyway, I was disgusted with Rand's decision not to torture Semiharg. I mean, I'd think even Rand would see the necessity of having her stilled, at least. He was able to sentence Colavere to exile and strip her of her powers, even if he couldn't kill her outright. I wonder if Min's seen anything interesting in the forsaken's aura? They must not be a pretty sight. I wouldn't be surprised if Nynaeve and the Ash'a'man took it into their own hands to "take care of" Semiharg--she seems oddly obedient, lately. Ta'veren.

I thought Brandon did a very good job dealing with the missing hand--Rand trying to run his non-existent fingers through his hair and failing broke my heart a little.

Brandon also hinted that he'd finally reveal who killed Asmodean, but maybe I'd reading too much into that. It was never a real issue for me, though my bet would be Isam/Luc. I mean, dead's dead, so why does it matter? But apparently arguing over it drives some people nuts. I'd rather find out who the what's-her-face forsaken is impersonating in the tower. And who Demandred is, since he isn't Taim. Here's an interesting theory: maybe he's impersonating Masema?

I don't like the hint that the taint on Saidin is someone the fault of the female Aes Sedai who refused to go along with Lews Therin's plans. The more we learn about Aes Sedai, the dumber they seem, which is annoying because I liked them. They were my favorite part of the first few books, and now they act like a bunch of silly hens. It triggers my feminist instincts because, if Lews Therin's correct, it's like one of my favorite authors is saying, "if women would just be obedient to men, all the problems of the world would go away." I'm definitely reading too much into that, I'm sure, but it would be nice if the gender politics in Robert Jordan's world would tilt toward the women a little more often. Oh, and must all the baddies be lesbians looking for "pillow friends"? It seems like the only active lesbians are both bad girls, and both red Ajah. I can't quite decide if New Spring hinted that Siuan and Moraine were lovers but grew out of it or if that's just in my strange imagination.

Like I said, the first chapter was mostly recap, so it wasn't exactly the most scintillating read. But it wasn't a failure either.

The second chapter, however, I really enjoyed. I was happy to dive into Egwene's perspective--sometimes I'd pull out the Knife of Dreams just to re-read the Egwene chapter. I never liked her much until after she became Amyrilin. I was glad Brandon mentioned the Seanchan episode. I just read the Great Hunt, and I thought, "wow, I'm surprised Egwene is so mentally sane. I'd have major PTSD." And being in the Tower, cut off from the Power and powerless, would be difficult for her. I'd also think it would be helpful. "Hey, the Seanchan nearly boiled my skin off, so if you want to beat me? Eh, go ahead. I've had worse."

It looks like Brandon might be doing alternating POVs per chapter, which will kind of annoy me. One thing I liked about the series was that it stayed in one character's POV for large chunks of time--infuriating if it wasn't a character you cared for much, but at least you knew when you finally got back to what you did care about, you were going to stay there. But I understand how the alternating perspectives is easier on the author and how it's a tool for building suspense. It's supposed to make me grind my teeth, but I don't have to like it. I don't have much right to complain because of all the POV jumping around I do in the beginning of my book.

Anyway, in the second chapter, I didn't feel jarred by the different writer at all, and I loved it. It bodes well for the rest of the book. Hopefully we'll get the answer to "Siuan's puzzle". All signs point to the idea that the Ajah heads might be in communication so they can create one hall again, but that would seem strangely cohesive given the dissention in the tower. Also, if they had the backbone to do that, I'm surprised they haven't had the backbone to depose Elaida and pick someone, maybe a neutral party, as Amyrilin. Or a loyalist Amyrilin/rebel Keeper, something like that (perhaps how Egwene ends up with Beldeine as Keeper, as is in her Accepted's test).
I'd think, after the bungled kidnapping and the prisoners captured by the black tower, only the Reds would still be supporting Elaida.

All in all, things look very promising and I'm looking forward to Oct. 27. It should be fun. I love the characters so much, I'm glad to see what happens to them. Other than the voice, nothing was particularly jarring--small annoyances, but they seemed in character for Jordan's world. Nothing that would make me put the book down.

I wish Harriet was coming to BYU. I'd love to meet her. One day, I'm hopefully going to have enough power to strong arm someone into letting me write some short stories in the Wheel of Time world. For example, Elayne's test for accepted, how Semiharg let a prisoner go once just because she was curious what being merciful felt like, how Birgitte met Gaidal Cain for the first time, or the Dragon met Illyeana. How Sammael got his scar and why Artur Hawkwing was so dead set against Aes Sedai, thanks to Ishamael.

I had the weirdest dream a little while ago that Brandon Sanderson hired me for his secretary, so I booked all his book tours and once. I ended up getting fired because of the recession.


  1. Luisa Perkins said...

    I'm afraid I'm going to need to re-read the entire series; I haven't read the first three books in 16 years. Oy.

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