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Books Entertainment

The Gathering Storm Discussion 186

Just over two years ago, fans of the Wheel of Time fantasy book series mourned the death of writer James Oliver Rigney Jr. — a.k.a. Robert Jordan. After much deliberation by Jordan's wife (who also edits the series), author Brandon Sanderson was chosen to finish the series. Sanderson familiarized himself with Jordan's notes and said that they would require three more books, which he hopes to release with about a year between them. On October 27th, the first new Wheel of Time book since Jordan's death was released, titled The Gathering Storm. Early reviews for the book seem quite positive, so here's a place to discuss it. Be warned: comments may contain spoilers.
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The Gathering Storm Discussion

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  • I've been reading the reviews from readers on Barnes and Noble and Amazon and it's been uniformly positive. That's quite an achievement to pass it on to another author and still be able to capture the flavor of the series.
    • I picked up the book yesterday afternoon, and finished it just before midnight. (Yes, I actually do retain what I read. No, I don't skip anything.)

      The characters are all the same people, but Sanderson's versions seem more chatty, and slightly "larger" than Jordan's... I know that's not clear, but somehow Sanderson's intervention has resulted in more detailed character development.

      The book is non-stop action. Jordan's last 3 books were *almost* boring - the plot pace had slowed to a crawl. Not true in this book: if anything, it feels like falling down a water slide. Numerous plot elements are wrapped up in just this first book. A lot of those burning questions about who's dead and who's alive are answered. Unlike Jordan's previous volumes, I could actually see this one as a movie (is that good or bad?).

      I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was worth the money and the time (though my 6 hours are a pittance compared to the days some of you will spend reading it). I'm already loaning it out to other Jordan fans to read.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        (Yes, I actually do retain what I read. No, I don't skip anything.)
        (though my 6 hours are a pittance compared to the days some of you will spend reading it)

        You are awesome because you read fast.

      • >>Not true in this book: if anything, it feels like falling down a water slide.

        That's Sanderson's trademark style. In Mistborn, you think he's setting everything up for a trilogy. Then events start flying by faster and faster, and by the end of it it seems like he's packed an entire trilogy into the first novel.

        I think that's why Harriet picked him to finish the WoT series... if anyone can do it, he can.

        Maybe I'll ask Harriet and Brandon when they come to Half-Moon Bay on the 20th. I get to meet them

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by NEDHead ( 1651195 )
      Are they available from CliffNotes?
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Yes and they were edited by his wife so they're a measly 600 pagers with 12 additional and unneeded sub plots.

    • This isn't surprising, or even useful. The folks who ordered the book and have written reviews in the 48 odd hours since they would have released are predisposed to like it.
      Not to mention they're likely punch drunk from having stayed up two nights running in order to finish this doorstop.

  • by chrisG23 ( 812077 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @02:42PM (#29927117)
    I first started reading the books when I was a senior in high school, I thought the series was amazing at first, especially after the first book, and then the next two or three. Then after that it started to drag. Alot. Nothing significant was happening. Or seemingly random significant things were happening to stir up the plot. I gave up halfway through book 6 or 7 out of boredom and a sense of futility.

    High school was a long time ago, and since then I've broadened my reading interests, read more genres, literature, poetry, more diverse offerings in the "Fantasy" genre, and I took a stab at reading the Wheel of Time again. Read the first book.

    It sucked. Hard. All the way through.

    Just my opinion, I'm not right or wrong but thats how I feel about it. If you enjoy these books thats great, different strokes for different folks, but this is a big non-story to me, except about milking a cow thats been on life support for dehydration for years and years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd still say the first three books were great. 4-8 were deadly, and where most people gave up. 9 was great, 10 was complete WTF boredom, and 11 was a page-turner if I ever read one - for one thing, the story in 9 and 11 was actually GOING somewhere again.

      So yeah. Read 1-3. Internet summaries for 4-8. Read 9. Survive 10... somehow. Read 11.

      12? Wait and see. :)

      • I was thinking about reading some of these again, but the sheer number of volumes was really daunting. It's nice to have a guide to how to move through and enjoy them...

        Heck, if I managed to read all the way through Harry Turtledove's "Homeward Bound", I'm sure I can take whatever level of tedium book 10 of this series throws at me.

    • by Samalie ( 1016193 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @02:51PM (#29927229)

      I too started WoT in high school (actually, it might have been my last year of Jr. High)

      And while I'll agree that reading them now is just not the same...on the same token, the majority of the books are not bad...just average.

      The new book...I'm about 2/3 of the way through it, and Sanderson has done a good job at capturing the flavor of the books. And there is definite movement to the end (Book 14 I believe? Expected November 2011)

      I accept that the books now suck for you...but they're not really bad books. Jordan milked the series for all its worth without a doubt, and a couple of the books were almost painful to read, and I swear to god if I have to read about the character's opinions about blades of grass again I might resurrect Jordan just to kill him again, but still, its decent fantasy.

      Now if ony George R. R. Martin could get out a book faster than 1 every 6 years, I'd be happier. Fucking 4 1/2 years since Feast of Crows and still no next book in sight.

      • Seriously. The next book is already written, WTH is taking so long to publish it? And now a TV series? Finish the books! You can milk the merchandising later. Sheesh!

      • I'm just starting on the first couple chapters. It seems good to me so far. Some sections of the prologue were kind of random but that's nothing new. Partly it's that it's been a long time since I've read the previous book, and partly I expect things to be tied in more as the book progresses.

        I read Elantris and was really impressed, so I have high expectations for Brandon Sanderson's work on this series. He knows how to build the proper amount of tension to keep you turning the pages, and he knows whe
      • Adjusting skirts and tugging braids. While glaring.

      • So do you too have a lawn I can get off of? What kind of grass to you recommend for mine? There's nice fluffy grass that's soft enough for parties but kinda wears out if you dirtbike on it. The tough stuff might annoy guests but it's the perfect blade size to make that grass-reed between your thumbs. Did any of it wash away to reveal muddy patches? With all the rain lately a Grass-Mud Horse might like it.

    • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

      by Abcd1234 ( 188840 )

      Just my opinion, I'm not right or wrong but thats how I feel about it. If you enjoy these books thats great, different strokes for different folks, but this is a big non-story to me

      Well, isn't it nice of you, then, to take some precious time out of your day to comment on this non-story...

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Aladrin ( 926209 )

      I recently re-read the series. Well, that's not accurate. I read 1-3, then half of 4 before switching to a series of summaries online. The summaries quit at 8, so I skim-read 9-11. (Reading when it was entertaining, skimming when it wasn't.)

      I was amazed at how much I had forgotten... But I was even more amazed at how much was packed into book 1 compared to Books 4-11. I think they could easily have compressed 4-11 into 3 books, and maybe 2.

      Jordan said those books 'wrote themselves' and it's pretty obv

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by herring0 ( 1286926 )

        I started reading the series as a freshman in high school shortly after the third book came out. I was so impressed that I took the time to write Jordan and managed to carry on a good bit of letter writing back and forth for about a year.

        Oddly enough (and I think it REALLY shows) at the time Jordan himself said he expected that he had enough 'story' for about seven books all told. I don't know what changed, or if he just lost his way, but I can say I was irritated that most of the books around 4 and later

      • The pace of the books just kept slowing down. My impression was that he could have wrapped things up in book 1 with another hundred pages or so. Book 2 could have been the second book in a trilogy. I gave up after book 5, when it became clear that he wasn't going to manage a septology.

    • I first started reading the books when I was a senior in high school, I thought the series was amazing at first, especially after the first book, and then the next two or three. Then after that it started to drag. Alot. Nothing significant was happening. Or seemingly random significant things were happening to stir up the plot. I gave up halfway through book 6 or 7 out of boredom and a sense of futility.

      Had the same feeling, though I've noticed the clear foot-dragging tendency in the first book already, and got bored to hell and left on the third one.

    • by COMON$ ( 806135 )
      Ya I just read the first book this past year, (family member got it for me for Christmas). I have been putting off reading them for years. After finishing the first book I felt a bit robbed, I still havent felt up to reading the second book although is going to be more about getting back to the world rather that the storyline. In my opinion the Terry Goodkind books are far more entertaining although they got quite monotonous at least things happened in them rather than the...the trip took 6 days...on day
      • In my opinion the Terry Goodkind books are far more entertaining although they got quite monotonous at least things happened in them rather than the...the trip took 6 days...on day one...over and over and over...

        I think this is why I won't bother reading Wheel of Time. After four or five Terry Goodkind books, I felt like I was in Groundhog Day. "Main character gets a new wife then saves the world" isn't quite as exciting the fifth time around. From what I've heard and read online, Wheel of Time is pretty much the same, except with twice as many books.

        Of course, I have an entire shelf of Terry Pratchett books, so my opinions may be atypical.

        • by COMON$ ( 806135 )
          Actually The book series picks up after the 5th one :) No more wives, I had completely forgotten about it. You definitely have to read the 6th book, probably the best one in the series, one of the top fantasy books I have read just for the underlying philosophy. I about gave up after the 4th and 5th but am really glad I didn't, the same persistence will probably get me through WoT. You can skip Pillars, or at least read a synopsis, I dont even remember what naked empire is about, but the last 3 (chainfi
          • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

            Ugh, the 6th Goodkind book was the worst fantasy book I've ever read. It went from a great book one to a so-so fantasy series, then to a rather boring Libertarian propaganda book. After that I stopped buying his stories, if I wanted that kind of crap I'd read Ayn Rand. Actually I'd probably kill myself instead, but if you're going to read unrealistic infantile political bullshit, may as well read from the master.

        • As a fellow Pratchett shelf owner, I can say I sympathise, but the WoT series is good... until book 3. After that, you mostly stick around because of a sick self-abusive desire to see the story through to its end.


        • As a fellow Pratchett fan, let me suggest you consider what it is about the books that you enjoy. Pratchett makes me smile as he points out the ironic and silly. It is fun to read, not just in itself, but also because for a moment I feel a connection to a mind that I respect. The same thing happened to me when I was introduced to Douglass Adams: I enjoyed it as I read it because it was funny, but even more because as I followed the author's train of thought I thought things I would never have thought of on

      • by alister ( 60389 )

        I quit Goodkind when his fascism became a sledgehammer. Mr Whatshisname (Richard?) slices and dices his way through hordes of innocents in an attempt to murder some supposed bad guy, but gets to remain the hero, in spite of being an obvious psychopath.

    • by Tyr_7BE ( 461429 )

      I'd have to agree. It was great when I was younger, but since then my tastes have expanded somewhat.

      I got into it about the same time, maybe junior high. I was pretty much riveted until the end of book 7 or 8. Then it got *really old* *really fast*. However, I was so smitten with the series back when I was a teen that I made a solemn promise to myself that I would finish the series, no matter what. And here we are, with me approaching 30, and damnit I am still determined to finish this, one way or anot

    • There's a reason why, along with Duke Nukem, this series is considered iconic - but in neither case is it complimentary.

    • I felt the same way. It's funny. When I first read it I thought it was great, but I went back and tried to read it a few years ago, and I couldn't believe how slowly it moved, or how it managed to fill so many pages with so little going on.

      There were really nice elements in the series, things that were unusual and fresh. But the whole thing moved far too slowly, and bogged down in things that it was impossible to care about.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      You';re not wrong, they are poorly written books. I have said this for years: He needs a good editor.

      If they got a good edit to go through the books and get them down to solid stories the move, they would be awesome books.

      Just because someone likes something, doesn't mean it's well written.

  • by TheWizardTim ( 599546 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @02:51PM (#29927231) Journal


  • my thoughts (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bornyesterday ( 888994 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @03:02PM (#29927339) Homepage
    To get ready for the release, I reread the series last month. Like most people who were fans of the series I had been disappointed with the slowing pace and complexity of the story in the later books. What I realized last month was that a lot of that slowness was because of the time between the releases of the books. As the series got longer and longer, I was less likely to reread the entire series before a new book came out. But reading it all at once definitely helps everything work much better. It's not that "nothing" happens in those later books, it's that so much smaller stuff happens, that it's nearly impossible to keep it all in your mind. After rereading the series, I was incredibly excited about TGS.

    So I went out and bought it Tuesday after work. I finished it on Wednesday. Sanderson does a great job of channeling the early Jordan. I don't know how much of the text was directly written by Jordan, but in the book several storylines are moved forward and a few of them are actually resolved. (Yes! Really!) The book does primarily focus on Rand, over Mat and Perrin, which was a complaint about several of the later books, but I think anyone who had gotten tired of Rand's attitude and behavior will like how the book ends. Egwene and the split of the White Tower is the other primary storyline that is dealt with, and I think that part of the story is perhaps some of the best since the first 3-4 books. There is still a ridiculous amount of stuff going on that isn't explained (yet), but it all feels like it's building in a way that will resolve itself that will be very exciting to read. With Knife of Dreams, you could definitely tell that Jordan was trying to pick up speed with his story, which makes sense, as he had already been diagnosed with amyloidosis and was trying to get as much finished as he could. And that increasing pace definitely is continued in TGS. There are still points where it slows down, but it's mostly done in short scenes with the other characters, which gives the appearance of that same tension and plot speed.

    And there are a couple of very, very big shockers. I definitely can't wait for the next two books.
    • by Again ( 1351325 )

      And there are a couple of very, very big shockers. I definitely can't wait for the next two books.

      Oh yeah. I am still reeling.

      • by clem ( 5683 )

        Spoiler Alert: skirts smoothed, prophesy quoted, various factions discuss their innate superiority to other factions.

  • My Opinion (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 30, 2009 @03:07PM (#29927411)

    This book is a triumph. Bought it on the first day, read it all day long. Very immersive and quite similar to Jordan's writing style...only problem is that some peoples' mannerisms changed (ie, the word 'ain't' suddenly popped into existence.)
    Regardless, I recommend buying it if you have not done so already.

    PS: Kinda SPOILER here...

    Rand gets out of his emo whiny thing.

    • by Again ( 1351325 )

      Rand gets out of his emo whiny thing.

      And dips into serious narcissism that is no longer just self-destructive, is everyone around him destructive.

      And Nynaeve continues the awesomeness that she started in KoD.

  • by JoshuaZ ( 1134087 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @03:07PM (#29927413) Homepage
    Sanderson wrote the Mistborn trilogy which is the best fantasy series I've read in a long time. The characters and setting were very well developed. He used an extremely original system of magic that was well-thought out. He also gave a lot of thought to how the magic system would impact society. All very well done. I'm almost a bit worried that we have this great new guy and he needs to waste him time finishing Robert Jordan's magnum opus. Sanderson probably has far more original thoughts floating in his head. I want to read more of those, not see him finishing up Wheel of Time.
    • by IICV ( 652597 )
      The good thing about Brandon Sanderson is that he's rather prolific, almost to an Asimovian degree. While writing Mistborn, he's also published Elantris, Warbreaker, some Young Adult novels about a kid detective named Alcatraz. He's also sent The Way of Kings off to the editors recently (and it should be out in three-four months IIRC), though out of respect for Robert Jordan he hasn't been pimping it very much on his blog. Basically, although he's current finishing the Wheel of Time, you can also expect qu
    • Yea, if I read the final books of the goddamn wheel of time series, it'll be because I'm into Sanderson, not because of any lingering interest in Jordan...That burned out years ago...I want to say "a decade" but I don't think that the 5th book was published that long ago...Oh wait, my bad, the 5th book was published in 1993. Yea, not just a decade ago, a decade and a half.

    • I'm worried that he was tweaking the first book for his 10 volume series The Way of King, and "growing immensely as a writer" [brandonsanderson.com] while he was working on finishing WoT. The thought that he could be in any way influenced by that needlessly detail heavy series while writing his own mega series makes my pessimism act up.

      Ah well, at least it won't involve skirt smoothing, sniffing, and braid pulling, while thinking how inferior all of creation is.
  • by Noke ( 8971 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @03:09PM (#29927433) Homepage

    The Eye of the World (Book 1):

    Rand al'Thor
    Tam is my father.

    (Nothing happens. Then, nothing happens. Then, unexpectedly, nothing happens. Everything is FRAUGHT with PORTENT.)

    Everybody come with me.

    No. Well, ok.

    (They travel a LOT. Something happens that isn't explained. Something happens that doesn't make sense. Something happens.)

    Rand al'Thor
    Tam is my father.

    THE (predictable, cliched, dumb) END

    The Great Hunt (Book 2):
    Rand al'Thor

    I want to do something. But doing this something is probably what the Aes Sedai want me to do, so I will do something else. But doing that something else may be what they want me to do, because they think I think they want me to do the first thing, so I'll decide to do this other thing instead. So I'll just do the first thing, since I want to do it anyway. Screw them.

    (Repeat seven hundred times.)


    The Dragon Reborn (Book 3):
    Rand al'Thor
    Being the Dragon Reborn stinks. I'm out of here.

    (Moiraine and the gang CHASE him. But even though they are on HORSES, and he is WALKING, they never CATCH UP. This is supposed to be MYSTERIOUS but is really just a plot CONVENIENCE for Robert JORDAN.)

    I hate wolves.

    (Mat and others show up out of NOWHERE. This is supposed to be MYSTERIOUS but is really just a plot CONVENIENCE for Robert JORDAN.)

    Rand al'Thor
    I am the Dragon Reborn. (kills the EVIL SUPREME BAD GUY)

    Robert Jordan
    Fooled you! That wasn't really the EVIL SUPREME BAD GUY! Now I can write forty more books!


    The Shadow Rising (Book 4):

    (Everybody HATES Rand, so he BEATS them until they OBEY.)

    I have conquered all sorts of stuff, because I rule.

    (Gibbers to self. Five hundred pages pass.)


    The Fires of Heaven (Book 5):

    I found an artifact which gives me limitless power. I think I shall brick it up behind a wall.

    (A female character SNIFFS and thinks about her NECKLINE.)


    Lord of Chaos (Book 6):

    I have a secret plan, but I won't tell you about it.


    A Crown of Swords (Book 7):

    Now my secret plan shall be unleashed! Here it is. Are you ready? Are you sure you're ready? I'm going to make it look like I'm attacking this guy. But THEN I will attack some OTHER guy.

    (He DOES, and it ALMOST WORKS.)


    The Path of Daggers (Book 8):

    Mazrim Taim
    I am evil, yaargh! Fear me!

    Spooky Voice of Lews Therin
    Rand, kill Taim.

    Being powerful sucks. I will brood.


    Winter's Heart (Book 9):

    I was going to rescue my wife, but that will have to wait for the next book.

    I was going to escape with my friends, but that will have to wait for the next book.

    I was going to attack Tar Valon, but that will have to wait for the next book.


    Crossroads of Twilight (Book 10):
    (Rand BROODS and DREAMS about his THREE WOMEN.)

    Minor Characters
    There is a large use of the One Power over there. (repeat indefinitely)

    I was going to save my wife, but that will have to wait for the next book.

    I was going to attack Tar Valon, but I won't finish it until the

  • by Anonymous Psychopath ( 18031 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @03:18PM (#29927567) Homepage

    Jordan's wife (who also edits the series)

    And that right there is the problem with roughly half of the books in this series; weak editing. No one appeared to be keeping Jordan in control and preventing him from spinning off more and more subplots that did little or nothing to move the story forward. Literally thousands of pages where major plot elements were barely even touched upon. I don't presume to understand how the relationship works when you're married to your editor, but it must have some kind of impact on how criticism is applied and conveyed.

    I still really enjoy the series as an overall work. I'll definitely read the new one when it's available in an ebook format. I just wish Jordan had had a good editor so he could have finished his masterpiece himself.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by darkvizier ( 703808 )
      I think a lot of people are in the same boat. I know I am... I love the universe and the intricacies of the plot, but some serious editing work is needed. What I would like to see once the story is finished is say... books 7-11 summarized into two books and re-released. I doubt it will happen though.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by codegen ( 103601 )
      The back notes of the first book originally stated it was the first book in a series of 6-8 books. If he had kept to that schedule, it would have been a great series. However some of the middle books of the series are nothing but filler. I remember reading one and afterwords felt that I wanted not only my money back but the time I spent reading it.
    • No wife has EVER had a problem criticizing her husband. Ever. Not once. Eve opened her eyes after god created her and gave Adam an earful about how this was the best rib he had to spare and all.

    • The cynical view: the less editing she does, the more books they can fill, the more money they make. Of course this applied equally to both of them during his life.

  • by mephistus ( 217351 ) on Friday October 30, 2009 @03:51PM (#29928003)
    When Brandon Sanderson was tapped as the man to finish this series of books, I picked up Mistborn to see what I could expect from his writing style. After I read Mistborn, I was hooked on his writing style and have since read the rest of his Mistborn series, as well as Elantris, and Warbreaker. I haven't read his young adult fiction, but it's apparently been well received. The thing that I like about Sanderson as opposed to Jordan are that a) he isn't afraid to kill a main character, especially if they're likable, b) his pacing of the book makes reading a challenge so that you don't read it too fast, as opposed to dragging through 15 pages of braid pulling and disapproving looks. However, their similarities are that Mr. Sanderson does as good of a job of character development as Robert Jordan, and Sanderson's development of political and interpersonal intrigue is usually a little better and more to the point than Jordan's.

    I think that Harriet did an excellent job choosing Brandon Sanderson to finish her husband's work. It's true that Mr. Jordan became a victim of his success earlier in the series, trying to keep so many threads going at the same time, never daring to kill more than the occasional character, and perhaps trying too hard to develop additional character stories at the expense of the initial handful of major characters. However I look forward to reading this book, and hopefully the final two books. I think that if what I've read of Brandon Sanderson's other work is indicative of how he'll treat the remainder of Robert Jordan's storyline, then it will be a great read.
    • Same thing here. I am a fan of the Wheel of Time series, and enjoyed many of Rigney's other books as well. When I heard Sanderson was taking up the story, I read his Mistborn trilogy, and I am now more excited than ever for the rest of the Wheel of Time series as well as any other future Books Sanderson writes.
    • I read Robert Jordan's stuff only after Brandon Sanderson was chosen to finish the series. Endless series tend to be dull as time passes - but Sanderson's recommendation was enough to make me read this one. I'm looking forward to Sanderson's finish - I find that his books are generally better than Jordan's, though Jordan is also fairly good. It might come come from Sanderson having more experience - he's written a whole lot of books, just not published so many of them.

  • I was hoping for a review of Churchill's memoirs.


    It seemed after the dullness that was Book 10 (Crossroads of Twilight), Jordan took a machete through the undergrowth of his sub-subplots, and the pacing of the books has improved greatly. Jordan published the deleted scenes, Twittered for the fanbois, director's cut version of Wheel of Time first and then made everyone else slog through it.

    The reintegration of Rand al'Thor almost (almost!) makes me forgive Jordan for dragging us through 5 books of Rand's emo. When Min utters som

    • by mdf356 ( 774923 )

      I've been waiting for Moiraine to re-show since I connected the dots between the shiny tower mentioned in book 1 and whatever book she disappeared in. (I didn't have time for a full re-read before book 12 came out). Book 11 had me hoping it would be soon... as long as it's in book 13 and not 14 that we get her back, I'll be happy.

      I was wondering if "the three becoming one" with Callandor meant Aviendha, Elayne, and Rand (poor Min, unable to channel). Aviendha is a very strong in the power, and while Elay

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        I think 3 become one has to do with the final battle- use of Saidin, Saidar, and the True Source to defeat the Dark One.

1 Mole = 007 Secret Agents