8.24.2011

Currently Reading: The Gathering Storm (The Wheel of Time, Book 12)

Standing in the doorway was a very angry Tam al’Thor. He glared at Cadsuane. “What have you done to him?” he demanded.

Cadsuane lowered her book. “I have done nothing to the boy, other than encourage him toward civility. Something, it seems, other members of the family could learn as well.”

“Watch your tongue, Aes Sedai,” Tam snarled. “Have you seen him? The entire room seemed to grow darker when he entered. And that face—I’ve seen more emotion in the eyes of a corpse! What has happened to my son?”

Authors: Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

Synopsis: In a battle with Semirhage, Rand loses nearly all of his remaining sanity, terrifying Min, Nynaeve, and everyone else who meets him. Meanwhile, Egwene remains in the White Tower, where she refuses to back down from her claim to the Amyrlin Seat and seeks to heal the ever-widening rifts between the Aes Sedai.

Notes: Brandon Sanderson’s moving prologue set the stage for this book, which he took over after Jordan’s death. Jordan’s widow, Harriet McDougal, chose the bequest well. While I had a few moments of recognizing that the text was a different author’s work, the voices blended exceptionally well. I’m looking forward to reading more of Sanderson’s work.

Whether by Jordan’s decree or Sanderson’s, the perspective jumps mostly took place at the chapter level in this book. This proved decidedly less exhausting to read. It was also nice to spend very little time in Darkfriends’ heads.

Perrin and Mat took a few turns of action, with Mat decidedly more dull at separation from his new wife, and Perrin finally understanding the wrongfulness of his exclusive focus on Faile. Good man. I have loads of respect for Perrin Aybara.

But the bulk of the book alternated between Rand and Egwene, which—as they’re my two favorite characters—is part of why I loved it so much.

Egwene’s scenes were wonderful, one after another, including direct confrontation with Elaida, a dramatic battle with the Seanchan, and the receipt of a near-complete—and shocking—list of Black Ajah. I'm still appalled at the latter, by the way. Sure, I knew about Alviarin and Katerine and Galina, but... well, I’ll avoid spoilers. But the sacrifice it took a certain Aes Sedai to create and pass on that list was terrible and incomprehensible and powerful.

Rand’s scenes were horrifying. It’s hard to blame him for what he did to get free of Semirhage, but it turned him to stone—a nearly-heartless, incredibly deadly, almost irredeemable creature. The reader shares Min’s heartbreak and Nynaeve’s horror again and again, till the painful exchange with Tam and the subsequent events.

The progression of Rand’s relationship with the voice and nature of Lews Therin Kinslayer is brilliantly done and very sympathetic, especially at the end. Their final scene moved me to tears.

The Wheel of Time books have mostly ended on brutal cliffhangers. This one left the reader more satisfied than ever, yet longing for the next. Which I will have to wait to read till after I move. And then I’ll have to wait for the esteemed Mr. Sanderson to finish the final book.

Recommendation: This is my favorite of the books since about book eight. I recommend it.

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