Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Wheel Has Turned (No Spoilers)

The latest book in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, The Gathering Storm has appeared in B&N, although my last understanding is that it wasn't due 'till 11/03. I don't have time for a real review, and by the time I've created one everybody interested will probably have read the book, but herewith a few notes.

For those unfamiliar with the series, I have linked to the Wiki page, but haven't read it. It may not be completely reliable, as the series may be a contentious subject and Wiki sometimes has problems with these. However, it should give you a general idea. If you want to become familiar, I suggest starting with the first book in the series ("Eye of the World") and reading forwards. Don't rely on any sort of summaries. Watch out also for some half-sized books (for children) which split the first few volumes into smaller chunks. A careful perusal of the Tor website or Wiki should allow you to find which is which.

Jordan's posthumous co-writer, Brandon Sanderson, says in the preface, introduction, or whatever (I don't have the book with me as I write) that we should consider this the first 1/3 of the final book of the series ("A Memory of Light"), and I strongly agree.

He also mentions that he has written in his own style, rather than trying to imitate Jordan. I find the writing itself rather similar, however he (IMO) takes a different approach to simultaneity, with different scenes much more separated in time than Jordan. (I may be mistaken about this, I just don't have time to go back and double check. And in any case, this doesn't include the first and last chapters of previous books, whose scenes have always been somewhat out of sync.)

I found this book much more satisfying than the last few, in the sense that many more issues are being resolved than opened. This was to be expected, but I can confirm it.

I'm not going to discuss plot details, or even list which issues have been resolved, but I will say that it's my impression that there are far fewer surprises here than in previous books. That doesn't mean that any issues were resolved in precisely the ways I had anticipated, but that in general the resolution fit within my broader expectations.

I strongly recommend reading it if you're following the series, and I can say that IMO Sanderson is doing a good enough job that we can expect to enjoy the finalization of the series almost as much as if Jordan had done it himself. Read more!