27 October, 2009

Review: The Gathering Storm, by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson


This review of The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson is aimed at readers who have followed The Wheel of Time but who are by no means experts on the series, or theory junkies for that matter. In short, if you can quote line and verse and have endlessly debated the “who killed Asmodean” question, then I kindly direct you towards Dragonmount and Theoryland, where I am sure you will feel more at home. On the other hand, if you want an uncomplicated and honest take on the novel from someone who has been a silent fan of the Wheel of Time for a surprisingly long time, then you will want to continue reading. I should also mention two very articulate reviews of The Gathering Storm which just came out over at Nethspace and Grasping for the Wind, both of which are well worth your time.


My Take in Brief

As I finished the last page, bleary eyed and sleepy, the only thought that came to mind was “thank you, thank you”. I have been involved with Rand, Mat, and Perrin for longer than I care to think, and finally getting the ball rolling on the end of their epic adventure let me breath a great, and much needed sigh of relief – something akin to a junky finally getting a fix, but without all the negative connotations. In short, that is exactly what The Gathering Storm sought to achieve, to get the ball rolling, to get the story moving, to bring it towards a much-anticipated culmination, and most importantly, to give fans of the Wheel of Time much needed closure. Now ware readers, for the review that follows is steeped in spoilers.

There are two very strong impressions that you will have after finishing The Gathering Storm. The first of these is that Brandon is, admittedly, not Robert Jordan. I won’t argue grammar or syntax to make my point – the simple fact of the matter is that Robert Jordan gave us epic events while Brandon Sanderson gives us epically emotional events – anyone familiar with Brandon’s Mistborn trilogy will know exactly what I am referring to. The contrast is marked by the unprecedented access that we are granted to the thoughts of characters, especially Rand and The Daughter of the Nine Moons. Robert Jordan inferred and hinted, masterfully meshing physicality and dialogue to give his characters unprecedented depth and appeal. Brandon, on the other hand, cuts straight to the chase, removing, in my opinion, that amazing sense of uncertainty that was always characteristic of Jordan’s writing.

The second and slightly less obvious difference between pure Jordan and the Jordan Sanderson hybrid that is The Gathering Storm is the structure of the novel. The characteristic focus on a handful of characters carried on for a number of chapters is abandoned in favor of a panoply of perspectives, numbering somewhere around thirty two points of view, give or take a couple. Now, in my estimation, the last couple installments in the Wheel of Time were somewhat verbose and tended towards stretching out story arcs that would better have been wrapped up in a timelier manner. As such, I can’t imagine the structure of the novel being any different given the need to get the story up to pace and rolling along at a comfortable clip. As much as books are considered static and timeless, unless you have recently reread the whole series (as I am sure a number of you have), the different perspectives are just what the doctor ordered to reboot The Wheel of Time.

All in all, I could not have been more pleased with The Gathering Storm. It wasn’t Robert Jordan, but his hand and that of his team was clear throughout. Brandon dispatched his duty with remarkable skill and an almost reverent understanding of the series and its numerous characters. Those of you at all familiar with the massive pile of notes left by Robert Jordan and all the feedback Brandon was force fed during the writing process from Team Jordan will find the scene where Mat struggles with assigning fictitious roles to his soldiers quite hilarious - I know I did.

So, How Was it?! [SERIOUS SPOILERS BELOW]

It was… eventful. Rand goes to the edge of madness and beyond, which culminates in a long awaited and speculated upon confrontation/heart-to-heart with Tam. We discover the scary depths of the Seachan worldview and witness its brutal personification in a daring assault on the White Tower, followed by the quick and brutal extermination of the Black Ajah thanks to an unexpected yet hinted at traitor from within their ranks, and, finally, a unified White Tower under a single Amyrlin. Mat and Perrin, on the other hand, achieve little in their journey beyond struggling to define their roles as leaders, with maybe a tangential adventure or two thrown in to keep things interesting. That is by no means the extent of what happens in The Gathering Storm; in point of fact there is so much that takes places that any reviewer will find it a challenge to adequately sumarzie the action. To the fans who screamed at there being three books to conclude the series (Towers of Midnight and A Memory of Light) instead of one, well, tell me what you think after finishing The Gathering Storm, because in my estimation there is not a chance in hell the series could have been finished in one book.

Brandon's epically emotional style, which I mentioned before, showcases his formidable use of introspection and brings to the novel a dark sense of foreboding. The physical confrontations which take place throughout take second stage to the battle within Rand himself - his struggle with both his sanity and his destiny. The most shocking scene, by far, is the one in which Rand is collared and forced to strangle Min to death -- paling even in comparison to Rand going off the depend of sanity and coming within a hairsbreadth of destroying the world. Anyone who has made it this far in The Wheel of Time cannot remain unemotional when faced with the events Brandon throws at us... and if you can, well then, my hat is off to you.

All in all, the action packed pace and relative lack of descriptive filler more than make up for, regrettably, loosing Jordan's artistic touch. Battle scenes, for instance, have lost much of their sucking-you-into-the-page luster, but one cannot expect miracles. Neverthless, theroller coaster ride of enjoyment, frustration, love, hate, surprise, and anger is much the same. I can only say "thank you" to everyone involved for continuing the series with the full measure of your devotion.... and if you don't have the next book out within a year, well, ware my wrath.

So, why do you love The Wheel of Time?

37 comments:

ediFanoB said...

I really appreciated your introduction. In the past hours a lot of reviews popped up and therefore it is good to have an advice which kind of review you wrote.

And of course I liked the review even I don't one book of the series because you delivered what you promised.

PeterWilliam said...

Nice review. I'm dying to get and read it, soon. This is one of those series I have absolutely no problem with spoiling myself on. I'll probably know the entire tale before I read it, and still devour every word once I get it.

— B P R — said...

SPOILER (sort of): More like NON-spoiler: evidently Asmodean's killer is STILL not revealed, although there's allegedly a "tiny clue" in the book about. It may be irrational of me, but I was furious when I realized this; I'm still not over it and it's ruined the whole book for me (for now). I for one am NOT going to go scurrying for some little clue that won't really tell us anything.

Alec said...

@Peter

I totally understand, although i think that was much more true with the way Jordan wrote the series. Brandon's style isn't as conducive to rereading, but then again... I am only half way through my second read so it is a bit early to tell.

@BPR

I don't know which little nugget you are referring to about Asmodean, but please do post it if you know. Honestly though, I could personally care less as who killed him.... unless it is a Dark Friend that has been hiding within Rand's inner circle. I don't doubt it will be revealed in due course, and at least this time around we don't have to wait 5 years!

Anonymous said...

@Alec @BPR

I could be wrong (as I've only read up to chapter 4), but the clue as to Asmodean's killer may have come in Graendal's point of view during Mesaana and Demandred's meeting with Moridin. During this meeting, Graendal's initiative is referred to. One is led to wonder, what did she take the initiative to do?

I haven't finished my re-read of the previous volumes and my memory of the various arguments for and against various killers of Asmodean is shaky, but I recall Graendal being one of the few options.

Anonymous said...

I don't get what you are talking about. (I'm Only On the first book, and I'm only 11), can you believe it, and I love this book.

Pete said...

Surely Graendals initiative is the war iniitated by Italrude on the Seanchan which she set up ages back in the series

Anonymous said...

Ages back in the series? You mean like when they were told to spread chaos? Doesn't seem much like initiative to me when you're told to spread chaos and you start a war... sounds like you're just following orders.

Offing one of your fellow Forsaken on the other hand...

Alec said...

@ Anon (right after my last post)

I am going to have to agree with Pete on this one. I don't think that that was the initiative that was mentioned. The Asmodean question, in my opinion, is still very much a mystery... although a die-hard might come along and try to prove me wrong :P

@ Anon (who only just started the series)

Lol + Enjoy. I was 12 when I started and I can't tell you how lucky you are that the series is almost finished. Be thankful!

Anonymous said...

I read your review upto the spoiler a couple of days ago and have reread the review after just finishing the book. I liked the pace of the book but I'm afraid that Brandon Sanderson just didn't get it right with Mat. It was almost to ireverent for a character who has matured and grown in the later Jordan novels.

As far as i'm concerned Mat is by far the best character in the novels. He has kept me coming back for more even through the obvious padding out of the series in its later stages.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, just maybe, if we're to eventually learn of Asmodean's killer from his/her own point of view (that was my impression from what RJ and BS have promised, but I might be mistaken) the fact that Greandel won't be thinking of anything anytime soon is the hint - it's not her.
Or maybe I'm just speaking nonsense.

Mr. Karma said...

I really enjoyed your review. I have been a fan of the WoT series for about 10 years. I can't remember how many times I have re-read the series waiting for a new volume to be released, especially since the sad passing away of Mr. Robert Jordan.

And I have to agree that, although I had my doubts of Bryan Sanderson doing justice to a fantasy series which I have been fanatical about my whole teenage life, the Gathering Storm is truely amazing.

I can't help but feel that Bryan Sanderson have given what has been badly needed to refresh the series. Robert Jordan will be very happy with his work, I'm sure.

The style is different, but there is a lot of new depth to the story..and yes its got a lot of emotional impact. Especially the scene where Rand gets collared and senses the True Power..and the ending was very moving.

I can't wait for the next one..:D..drooling now

Anonymous said...

Hey, why exactly there is no information on Black Tower at all!! As per the last part gave a hint of the Black Tower being inflated by Darkfriends....but in this one no hint of what is happening with the other Aashaman!!

Anonymous said...

hey im a huge fan of the books and like many others really enjoyed gathering storm....
however there are some story plots that i was dissappointed with: such as the demise of Graendal. Compared to the other forsaken she was by far the best, sexual and cunning she had so much potential in terms of bringing more to the saga. They way she died, left me with more to desire. Did anyone else feel the same?
Also is everyone else convinced, like i am that Demandred is Taim and his army are the darkfriends in the black tower. if he is why did he give a seal to the dark ones prison to rand, when it would have been more beneficial to him if he simply destroyed it?
i would appreciate your thoughts

jem said...

I have just finished the gathering storm (and I must say WOW, it was great, a long time fan, I was hanging out for this book and nearly died of excitement the first time I spotted it in the bookshop).

I agree that Demandred is Taim, but I am wondering if anyone knows who Mesaana is?

I was amazed how good this was, I am going to chase up Sandersons other books now.

Dawne said...

OMG after 20 years when I saw this book in the store over Xmas I FREAKED! I went over board and although I have read all the books up til 3 years ago, I gave up. Till now. Since New years eve dau I have crammed all 9 books down my throat one after another, just so I can go next week and Buy the "gathering storm". HALLAUAH! I almost gave up..tears in my eyes thinking I would never know the end and NOW I have life again. Re-reading them has been a beautiful experience. So much that I have forgetten was brought forth.
I have to wish the new 11yr old a hearty welcome. And yes you are lucky you dont have to bear the pain of years in between to continue.
Thank you to those who spoiled by letting us who havent read the new one yet, that Taim might likely be Demandred. I had always thought that possible. I HATE that man! I nevr thought to think Taim was a forsaken, until I re-read a couple books back and Rand told Taim to hold the source, and measured him up. He was the same? Hmm??? Thanks for that!
As for Messena? I thought of Verin at times. But then? ohh the intrigue. Why? The one clue that keeps me thinking that it is her comes from Moraine's death letter to Rand. "Beware my sisters, and not to trust them, especially Verin". Or something like that! hmmm? She is a brown, and Alivarin did say that Messena had a "brown/gold" skirt with swirl on it when she was kissing her dress AND Verin has a tendency to disappear.
Well thats my points. Thank you all I am off to finish re reading book 10, so I can start 11, then TADA 12's storm! My family thinks I am nuts, I'm a mom who works but hasnt stopped reading since New Years EVE! ROFL! Thanks to WOT!

Anonymous said...

Taim is not Demandred. Robert Jordan flat out stated this in an interview years ago.

Anonymous said...

I also really liked this review - it was at least somewhat more balanced than others I've read online!

Quick question to see what you all think - was anyone else a bit confused that Perrin's story seemed to leap about? First we're dealing with his troubles about his leadership and re-entering the wolf dream etc, and then Tam comes to meet Rand and Perrin is with Galad, Morgase has been revealed as the former queen...personally I thought that was one of the biggest changes between Jorden and Sanderson.

Re: The Demandred Question (I thought it deserves capitals!) - after TGS I think that Demandred was manipulating Masema. In the scene written from Masema's point of view just before he's killed by Faile he mentions The Lord Dragon appearing shrouded in light to order him to kill Perrin - obviously it wasn't Rand. Wouldn't Demandred with his jealousy about not being the Dragon Reborn fit? Would also fit with his statement during the Forsaken meeting that he has an army at his command...

I also can't wait to hear who Mesaana is! Verin is obviously now out of the question...

Dawne said...

Yes Verin is now over. Though now that I have read the entire book I can see why I thought she was Messena. I did cry for her in the end. :(

And to Annonmous? I did not know that Taim was not Demandred in any interview. Sorry many of us out there think so and maybe we all dont know what you do? I have never seen this interview.
However,
I agree with this full review though, much is lost in a way and much is gained. Tam is in Tear with the others but its not exactly answered as to how? Holes that may yet be filled? Who knows. I felt hurried at times. The Jordan flair was gone though I could feel that in the battle between Egwene/White Tower and the Seanchan. It wasnt the same as the glorious battle chapter of Rand cleaning Saidin, while others battled for him. That is one thing missing without Jordan. But darn if I didnt feel bad for Rand..he had me on edge!! in the end I cried at that too...and laffed!
But all in all I was well with it. I am sad and happy, and cant wait for the next book!

Alec said...

@Dawne There are so many people so dedicated to the series that they have debated every aspect of every book. I was fortunate enough to meet Team Jordan during the sining tour in NYC - I worked as a Storm Leader which was totally awesome. The other group members were so knowledgeable it was a bit scary. I thought I was a fan until I met them. I am glad you enjoyed the review.

@Anon (are those two separate anons?)

I am also glad you liked the review, and yes, I think the book almost asked more questions than it answered. The most distinct impression I took away from the whole thing was the sheer emotional weight of it. I only hope Brandon hasn't painted himself into a corner because stylistically he now needs to keep cranking up the volume.

@all the theory questions

I am honestly not the best person to ask about micro debates within the series. I am an avid fan and have read the book a number of times, but talking minutia into the wee hours of the morning was never my thing. I am more of a big picture guy. Speaking of, the only way I see this series ending is with the sealing away of both the DO and the one power. Think on that. Nuf said.

Thelma said...

I just finished the gathering storm, and even though I agree that there is a difference between sanderson's style and robert jordan's, I still think that the book is one of the best in the series! It was slow in the beginning, but in the end I just couldn't put it down. I think the way that sanderson adds emotion to the scenes is great, I like his style of writing. however, I think he could've done better with some of the characters. mat wasn't at all as I imagine him, there were no scenes at all with elayne in them, and min was much more helpless than jordan used to show her. but I think sanderson did a great job with rand's personality, and when rand finally came to his senses on dragonmount i cried. all in all, a great book! i look forward to reading the next one.

Anonymous said...

im not sure how many times i have read and re-read the wheel of time series but i estimate if you add the hours together it would accumalate to months---months which i believe, have been well spent!
i know that the debate rages on as to who and where demandred is hiding, and like many have pointed out robert jordan has expicitly said it is not Taim. But im stumped as to who else it might be(all the evidence and innuendos given seem to be pointing to taim)--does anyone have any theories. also concerning mesaana: everyone seems to assume shes been hiding in the white tower as a sister but has anyone considered she could be a servent. This is supported by egwene's suspicions or "feeling" in the last chapter. Also i remember reading that several of the white towers servents have been missing this could be a result of them finding out mesaana identity and paying the consequence.
Lastly this latest book has strongly suggested that their is a connection between rand and morridin something only implied in previous books. Could this be a result from when their balefires touched before sammael was killed? in this book morridin rubs his arm in pain-the same hand rand has lost. would really appreciate your thoughts

Patrick said...

I have so much to say to this that I have to post on 3 separate comments!
WOW, and apologies up front for the length!

Part One

First I want to say that I’m no longer “reading” the books, I’m listening to them being read by the same 2 narrators as the first 11 novels on Audiobook. (Specifically Michael Cramer and Kate Redding 2 of the BEST audiobook readers in the industry.) I have read entire series (minus TGS) 3 times, listened to the books 1-11 (plus New Spring) more than a dozen times, and listened to TGS at least 4 times. I am an avid fan! My best friend & I used to take turns reading the paperback versions aloud to one another before audio books were commonplace, just to get another perspective on this most interesting of all Epics.

While I love your review and the depth/broadness of your comments I cannot join you in your “enjoyment” of the reading. I agree that “getting the ball rolling” towards the end of the story is quite a relief! I certainly love getting the "facts" filled in, some questions answered, etc. But I was so bored with inconsequencial characters, inchoate ramblings, etc that I had a difficult time paying attention until I got to the actual “action” or event, or point of the chapter. However, I did NOT see any links to the old books "foreshadowing’s" as RJ called them, merely events. I am sure that very few writers could have pulled together this information, making me reluctant to criticize, but I must point out a few "inconsistencies", as well as “consistent mistakes” as I see them:

I have the most difficulty coming to terms with obvious errors that are repeated. The most glaring of which is in relation to the Aes Sedai -
Sealed to the TOWER
=only initiates of the tower can know this information;
Sealed to the RING
= only initiates who have earned the ring (accepted & sisters);
Sealed to the SHAWL
= only Sisters can know.
Sealed to the HALL
= only Sisters who are Sitters know
Sealed to the FLAME
= between those present and the Amyrlin Seat only.

BS treats them as one and the same!! In fact, he acts as if there is only one ‘seal’ and the previous FIVE levels of access never existed! That makes no sense. The tower rules and laws are no longer referred to as “custom as strong as law”, etc.

Punishment from the sisters and/or others was never referred to as "beatings". Calling them such adds more "darkness" than I believe exists save within the Black Ajah itself! One could get a strapping, a switching, a hairbrush, even a birching (which I'll admit I don't comprehend), but all were “penances” designed to bring the subject to realize the error of her ways and do better. Perhaps I would feel different about the use of this term if it were only used by one character, say Katerine since she is Black Ajah, or even Egwene who must feel that the sugarcoating of calling it “penance” was laughable.

Point of fact; the ONLY time the power was used to “punish” and to “beat” someone prior to TGS was when the Black Ajah beat Rand daily as punishment for “trying to escape” and the only Sisters who could stomach the brutality past the first 2 days were the Black Sisters (Galina, Katerine, etc). Even Erian, the sister who lost 2 warders in Rand’s ‘escape attempt’ was sickened by it!

Patrick said...

I have so much to say to this that I have to post on 3 separate comments!
WOW, and apologies up front for the length!

Part One

First I want to say that I’m no longer “reading” the books, I’m listening to them being read by the same 2 narrators as the first 11 novels on Audiobook. (Specifically Michael Cramer and Kate Redding 2 of the BEST audiobook readers in the industry.) I have read entire series (minus TGS) 3 times, listened to the books 1-11 (plus New Spring) more than a dozen times, and listened to TGS at least 4 times. I am an avid fan! My best friend & I used to take turns reading the paperback versions aloud to one another before audio books were commonplace, just to get another perspective on this most interesting of all Epics.

While I love your review and the depth/broadness of your comments I cannot join you in your “enjoyment” of the reading. I agree that “getting the ball rolling” towards the end of the story is quite a relief! I certainly love getting the "facts" filled in, some questions answered, etc. But I was so bored with inconsequencial characters, inchoate ramblings, etc that I had a difficult time paying attention until I got to the actual “action” or event, or point of the chapter. However, I did NOT see any links to the old books "foreshadowing’s" as RJ called them, merely events. I am sure that very few writers could have pulled together this information, making me reluctant to criticize, but I must point out a few "inconsistencies", as well as “consistent mistakes” as I see them:

I have the most difficulty coming to terms with obvious errors that are repeated. The most glaring of which is in relation to the Aes Sedai -
Sealed to the TOWER
=only initiates of the tower can know this information;
Sealed to the RING
= only initiates who have earned the ring (accepted & sisters);
Sealed to the SHAWL
= only Sisters can know.
Sealed to the HALL
= only Sisters who are Sitters know
Sealed to the FLAME
= between those present and the Amyrlin Seat only.

BS treats them as one and the same!! In fact, he acts as if there is only one ‘seal’ and the previous FIVE levels of access never existed! That makes no sense. The tower rules and laws are no longer referred to as “custom as strong as law”, etc.

Punishment from the sisters and/or others was never referred to as "beatings". Calling them such adds more "darkness" than I believe exists save within the Black Ajah itself! One could get a strapping, a switching, a hairbrush, even a birching (which I'll admit I don't comprehend), but all were “penances” designed to bring the subject to realize the error of her ways and do better. Perhaps I would feel different about the use of this term if it were only used by one character, say Katerine since she is Black Ajah, or even Egwene who must feel that the sugarcoating of calling it “penance” was laughable.

Point of fact; the ONLY time the power was used to “punish” and to “beat” someone prior to TGS was when the Black Ajah beat Rand daily as punishment for “trying to escape” and the only Sisters who could stomach the brutality past the first 2 days were the Black Sisters (Galina, Katerine, etc). Even Erian, the sister who lost 2 warders in Rand’s ‘escape attempt’ was sickened by it!

Patrick said...

Sorry- didn’t mean to “repeat” part one!
Lost connection & thought it didn’t go thru. Oops! Try again

Part Two

Much of the verbal exchange as well as the mental ramblings have been "modernized" or "Americanized" so that I hardly recognize I'm in the same "world".
Example: When Logain was with Rand at the estate and the Trollocs attacked Logain referred to the encounter as "a close run thing", "A very close run thing". Sanderson would have elaborated on the "very narrow escape that had frightened everyone by the closeness of the battle and the nearly disastrous outcome if Logain had not just happened to stop by at that very time, too narrow and escape." Then everyone would have wondered about why and how and what it meant until I could not listen any longer and had to skip to the next "action" paragraph. He uses American slang, sci-fi terms like "medic" and modern terms like "medical aid" or "medical attention" I think he even called someone a physician once! In RJ's world we had 'healers', 'wise women', 'readers', 'mother' something or other, etc.

Not only the style of the access to the characters has changed, as you put it
“Robert Jordan inferred and hinted, masterfully meshing physicality and dialogue to give his characters unprecedented depth and appeal. Brandon, on the other hand, cuts straight to the chase, removing, in my opinion, that amazing sense of uncertainty that was always characteristic of Jordan’s writing.”
But BS has made all the characters sound alike. They sound like lawyers at trial batting around college level dialog to each other and inside their thoughts. No longer is Mat “simple”, no longer is Perrin “slow”, and no longer is Rand a “boy-turned-man” doing his duty, no longer is Cadsuane aloof and commanding, no longer is Egwene simply an innkeeper’s daughter applying the common sense of the Two Rivers to the training she has mastered under Siuan and the tower. The perfect example is to contrast the Mat we knew and loved in Ebou Dar with the one we meet in TGS. In Ebou Dar he couldn’t even compose a short NOTE to Elaine & Nynaeve to tell them about Jachim Carridin and the darkfriends without getting flustered and chewing dents in Queen Tylin’s golden pen! Enter the ‘new’ Mat from TGS – He is writing whole scripts, for dozens of his men and handing them out! Mat was lazy!!! He would have assigned the duty to Thom, or Noel – IF our Mat would have even done such a thing (which I highly doubt!) The Mat I knew would have gotten drunk at the mere suggestion that he should WORK instead of relying on his luck.

And that is my major gripe: If you quote a paragraph from any character in the first 11 books, I could tell you who it was by their syntax, vocabulary, types of curses, etc. In TGS everyone sounds alike, so much so that the narrators themselves did not seem able to assign their voices back to them, or create new voices for the newly introduced characters. If I fell asleep listening (which I did unless I was driving) I could not tell who was talking when I woke, where I was in the book, or what was happening. I have read entire series (minus TGS) 3 times, listened to the books 1-11 (plus New Spring) more than a dozen times, and listened to TGS at least 4 times, listening for details I might have missed and I still can’t pick up any except major events, and every repetition is so boring that I can hardly stand it! It took me 2 listens just to get that Faile killed Masema!

Patrick said...

Sorry- didn’t mean to “repeat” part one!
Lost connection & thought it didn’t go thru. Oops! Try again

Part Two

Much of the verbal exchange as well as the mental ramblings have been "modernized" or "Americanized" so that I hardly recognize I'm in the same "world".
Example: When Logain was with Rand at the estate and the Trollocs attacked Logain referred to the encounter as "a close run thing", "A very close run thing". Sanderson would have elaborated on the "very narrow escape that had frightened everyone by the closeness of the battle and the nearly disastrous outcome if Logain had not just happened to stop by at that very time, too narrow and escape." Then everyone would have wondered about why and how and what it meant until I could not listen any longer and had to skip to the next "action" paragraph. He uses American slang, sci-fi terms like "medic" and modern terms like "medical aid" or "medical attention" I think he even called someone a physician once! In RJ's world we had 'healers', 'wise women', 'readers', 'mother' something or other, etc.

Not only the style of the access to the characters has changed, as you put it
“Robert Jordan inferred and hinted, masterfully meshing physicality and dialogue to give his characters unprecedented depth and appeal. Brandon, on the other hand, cuts straight to the chase, removing, in my opinion, that amazing sense of uncertainty that was always characteristic of Jordan’s writing.”
But BS has made all the characters sound alike. They sound like lawyers at trial batting around college level dialog to each other and inside their thoughts. No longer is Mat “simple”, no longer is Perrin “slow”, and no longer is Rand a “boy-turned-man” doing his duty, no longer is Cadsuane aloof and commanding, no longer is Egwene simply an innkeeper’s daughter applying the common sense of the Two Rivers to the training she has mastered under Siuan and the tower. The perfect example is to contrast the Mat we knew and loved in Ebou Dar with the one we meet in TGS. In Ebou Dar he couldn’t even compose a short NOTE to Elaine & Nynaeve to tell them about Jachim Carridin and the darkfriends without getting flustered and chewing dents in Queen Tylin’s golden pen! Enter the ‘new’ Mat from TGS – He is writing whole scripts, for dozens of his men and handing them out! Mat was lazy!!! He would have assigned the duty to Thom, or Noel – IF our Mat would have even done such a thing (which I highly doubt!) The Mat I knew would have gotten drunk at the mere suggestion that he should WORK instead of relying on his luck.

And that is my major gripe: If you quote a paragraph from any character in the first 11 books, I could tell you who it was by their syntax, vocabulary, types of curses, etc. In TGS everyone sounds alike, so much so that the narrators themselves did not seem able to assign their voices back to them, or create new voices for the newly introduced characters. If I fell asleep listening (which I did unless I was driving) I could not tell who was talking when I woke, where I was in the book, or what was happening. I have read entire series (minus TGS) 3 times, listened to the books 1-11 (plus New Spring) more than a dozen times, and listened to TGS at least 4 times, listening for details I might have missed and I still can’t pick up any except major events, and every repetition is so boring that I can hardly stand it! It took me 2 listens just to get that Faile killed Masema!

Patrick said...

Part Three
(It's not me=this screen keeps giving me errors, yet the comment posts...sigh...) feeling silly.
Part Three

Hubby tells me that Morgase was revealed, and Galad was re-united with her and I can find no recollection of even hearing those 2 mentioned the entire book! I’m going to have to go buy the book so I can look things up, feeling like I’m studying for a history exam about one of the most pivotal times in history, but I have to read it from the perspective of a psychologist who was more interested in analyzing the actors than revealing the facts & events of the period. I might even be able to stand the maunderings, if all the characters did not maunder the same way. Imagine reading about the Holocaust in that manner. Ya da, Ya da, ya da, ramble, ramble, ramble, describe, rationalize, rationalize, rationalize, talk, talk, talk, ramble, describe, (where all the characters from the German Officers to the poorest Polish cleaning woman have the same vocabulary, syntax, expressions, etc.) For good or ill the main characters have been developed over long years and they don’t need changing now!

The way one says things is often as or more important that what is said, as in “the truth you hear isn’t always the truth you think it is” when dealing with Aes Sedai. If it’s an “old saying” or a “popular phrase” then why change it or stop using it? “The Wheel of Time Turns out the pattern of the ages”, “the wheel weaves as the wheel wills”, are very popular idioms in RJ’s work, seldom in BS’s. He adds his own new terms and names for things and inconsequential characters (like Sleet & the new sword forms).

Why do we hear nothing of Lan, since Rand finally seems to be securing the borderlands? Or do we and it was so short a sentence I missed it?

Will we get more of the same, do you think, or is there any chance that BS might re-read the series and become more consistent to the original work? I’m just so confused right now; a straight timeline would be wonderful. Hubby is re-listening and Rand berates Harine about the slowness of the ships, saying it’s been “weeks & weeks” since he commanded her ships to bring food to Arad Domon, yet later we hear it’s only been a few days since Logain’s return from that very mission. Which is correct?

Please forgive the length of this critique. After I buy the book I will research some of this and have even more inconsistencies, it’s almost not worth doing, and I’m beginning to think that to just jumble the events of the last days before Tarmon Gaidon into only one book would be a Great Relief- we get the resolution of foretellings, clarification of hinted at events, the black Ajah & darkfriends will be unmasked, etc, etc.
AND, most satisfyingly we would have less inconsequential bs to wade through. Pun intended.

Alec said...

@Patrick

You officially get the award for longest comment ever! Your points are well taken and laid out.

First I would say that not everyone reads/listens with as much attention to detail as you do. I have read the series a number of times at this point (and my favorite scenes many more than that) but I still don't care if, for example, it was 2 days or a week. That sort of detail is inconsequential in so far as it adds nothing substantive to the story.

Sanderson is absolutely not Jordan. I agree with you there. But also remember that the conclusion to the series isn't being written by Sanderson alone. He is getting significant input from Maria, Harriet, ect. If anything, I would lay at their feet the blame for lack of consistency.

Putting things in perspective, I happily take Sanderson getting the series finished at such an aggressive pace rather than wait roughly three years for each book to be polished and printed. It isn't ideal, it isn't perfect, but by God it is an ending, even if it isn't THE ending.

Patrick said...

Alec,


Thanks for the award! :) I'm thinking of writing a book myself (rotfl).

I agree with most points, and if I were Harriott I'd be listening to the hints and criticisms so as to edit better. RJ has a very interesting epilog comment at the end of the audiobooks about why he wrote as he did, and how Harriott gave him a better perspective, ie telling him where some detail was not clear, a foreshadow was not strong enough, etc.

I'm not really casual about many things in this life, as we only go around once! RJ is resting in peace, yet would HE be proud of the way the personalities of the characters they built together are being faded out, new personalities put in their places? If BS wants to have silly characters, by all means - add some! Although that would be a waste of time for those of us who just want to see the ending of the epic.

This was Robert Jordan's life work - he died while writing it, and as such it ought to be taken seriously in his memory. I'm sure his family would agree with the sentiment, if not the details.

If I knew the family and BS personally I'd definately "blog" them. Do you suggest another forum?

Seriously, thanks for the feedback and another perspective. Sleep Well. (and wake)

BTW - hubby (Patrick) set up the email in his name, but this is Deb writing..... told him that's what he gets for leaving me out..ha ha!

Sarahbear=3 said...

Hey,
(I know I'm about 2 years late with commenting so I'm wondering if U will get any feed back. But this has been the most constructive review I could find).
So my situation is that I've been reading the whole WoT series over more than a year, I've enjoyed all of the books, but particularly the 11th, I wizzed through it and found it more enjoyable than the pervious few. I was so so excited to start the 12th book and after reading the first few lines / paragraphs of its prologe I just can't bring myself to read further.

Alot of the reviewrs seem to be happy customers because of the so called fast pace of the 12th book. For me when reading the Robert Jordan books, I never once thought, the plot is far too slow, or thining about its pace - perhaps impatient at times with excessive description but that was my only. I was simply marveling in RD's high quality and use of english and words. I think reading his books has improved my english and insight on all sorts of cultures greatly and yeah I was incredibly shocked when reading the first parts Saundersons.......

Taking into account I'm not bothered about plot pace, just enjoying everything else about RD's work, I'm finding it very very difficult to bring myself to read the 12th installment.
I cannot believe after Robert's work how Saunders can write in such a style...
'...He chewed on his pipe, though its fire had gone out. He couldn't be bothered to relight it.' and 'They dominated the sky now,
sweeping distantly in either direction, massive and overwhelming.' - I feel like an educated 12 year old could form better sentences. Or that you or anyone reading this or I could write better quality sentences. A teenager could!-(I'm 21). Who writes 'can't be bothered' in such a prestigious book?!
I think it's just ruined for me 'now' and I don't know what to do with myself because I was so very excited so get on with reading the 12th, and now the style of writing just seems totally crap! How can this author have been voted best fantasy writer when his sentences are structured like a talking youth?

Sarahbear=3 said...

This isn't Twilight! I recall that the Eye of the world took me significantly longer than it did for me to read all 4 of the Twilight books which I did in under a week they were so easy. But the first WoT book took me a long time to get into whilst getting used to RJ's (sorry for the typos I mean RJ not RD!) style of writing. Now it just feels I will be reading something I should've minus 10 years off of my age!
admitedly I've not read any of BS's (lol)other books but come on!
So should I stumble through it and carry on reading still? I don't know, it just doesn't feel RIGHT!!
HELP!!

Sarah said...

Not my intention to spam but I've just realised how many typos and words I've spelt wrong which is kind of ironic considering how much I was bashing RJ's new substitute, so I'm apologising for my terrible quality of english, RJ wouldn't aprove, I've shamed him! To be fair I'm dyslexic, type fast and have the spelling age of a 2 yr old!! Oh dear!!

Patrick said...

I advise SarahBear to read TGS because of the few plot resolutions that take place. Warning- BS does NOT know the characters any better than he know the language. Ex: he has Mat writting pages & pages of play acting for his band & followers. Mat- who couldn't think of how to write a short NOTE to Elaine & Nynaeve in the Palace! All characters act & think (prepare to enter first person thought proceses with everyone!) But certain plot resolutions are critical to the story & take place as RJ directed. Both books suck- even though BS (yeah-lol !) Learned from some of his mistakes he still doesn't know our characters & spends many Boring pages introducing irrevelant characters of his own imagination to fill the time between important parts of the story.

Patrick said...

EmDitto the typos dear. However I'm typing from my blackberry & typos are common. Good luck!

Rachel said...

@ sarahbear3. I am facing the same dilemma as you. As a schoolteacher, I don't get a lot of time to read except during the summer, so when the 12th book came out, I bought it and waited until I had time to re-read the series before delving into the next glorious (or so I thought) installment of my absolute favorite author. I had just finished the 11th book and went right into the 12th with fervor, until I read the first few paragraphs. Needless to say, it was a shocking experience to go from long, beautifully crafted masterpieces of sentences to short, choppy, lower-level writing. I almost started crying when I remembered that RJ didn't write this book. I told my husband immediately that I didn't know if I could even try to read the book at all it was so mangled in writing style. The whole glory of RJ's books was that they WERE so complex, that they made me think with their hint-but-never-reveal style, that the plot took time to develop so as not to ruin the storyline, that the characters were so complex that they jumped out of the page, that the scenes were so full of detail that I could practically see them in my mind's eye ... in short, that Robert Jordan was a master craftsman who wrote for those with the highest intelligence levels while still being accessible to everyone. Reading those first few paragraphs right after reading some of RJ's last paragraphs was a shock that I hardly could stand, and forcing myself to pick back up the book the next day was torture. Every few pages I wondered if RJ's vision was really being held to, and how much of the book was someone else's creation. However, as I read, I realized I could enjoy the plot Jordan left as long as I didn't expect Sanderson to BE Robert Jordan. I enjoy other books by less masterful writers than RJ, and at least the plot line will still be his, if with a few additions from a lesser writer. No one can replace RJ or duplicate his work, but if I forget I'm reading a "Robert Jordan" book, I think I can enjoy what is on the page, even if it does sound like a 12-year old wrote it. Or at least I'm going to try because according to the forward, the final part of the story will be in Jordan's own words and that is something to look forward to!

Rachel said...

Ok, after reading the book I have to admit, it's not as badly written as it first seems. There are a few chapters, including the whole prologue, which still sound as if a twelve-year old wrote them, the whole character of Mat has been replaced by a buffoon, and Sanderson is still NEVER going to be Jordan in terms of writing mastery, but he does get the story moving and stays mainly close to the other characters. I enjoyed finally getting to know some of the big plot points, if ever too quickly, and once I stopped mourning the loss of Jordan's turn-of-phrases, the book was very enjoyable and quite along the IDEA of the other books. I was unable to get lost in the book (except for during a few short moments) like I did with Jordan, and I mourn for Jordan's subtle understanding of male / female relationships that gave more depth to certain characters, but I also no longer fear that the end of the books will never live up to the rest of the series. Thank goodness Jordan left his notes and ideas behind so his readers could see the end of his vision!

Case said...

The first chapter is really rough and doesn't sound like Jordan by any means, but the rest of the book reads the same if you forget some slightly cliched dialogue here and there.

I realize now that the overly descriptive passages people used to complain about from RJ did in fact make the books better and most of all "Robert Jordan". The best we as readers can do is highlight the positive aspects Sanderson brings to the table.