30 December 2009

The Gathering Storm

I consider this book one of my Christmas presents, though my mom actually gave it to me just before Thanksgiving. I didn't actually start reading it until Christmas Eve, so I'm tying it to a tradition we used to follow of opening one present on Christmas Eve, and the rest on Christmas morning. I knew that if I started reading it while the semester was still on, I wouldn't get my papers written or my students' homework graded.

I wasn't sure what to expect. Hopefully everyone knows that after Robert Jordan's passing, Brandon Sanderson took over the Wheel of Time series. It was originally slated to be one book. Sanderson wound up breaking it into three, and Gathering Storm is the first installment. I'd read Sanderson's book Elantris, and enjoyed it, but that was his own world; here, he had to take over the reigns of someone else's world. I was quite impressed with his handling of it. It wasn't perfect, but that's not really a surprise. I have a few specific nitpicks with handling of some characters, but nothing worth pointing out here. Sanderson has the WoT world down pat, and also most of the characters. That's quite an achievement for a series that was already eleven books long.

The style, of course, is not the same as Jordan's. Sanderson is much more prone to explain the things a character does, rather than leave the reader to guess what's going on. This is both a plus and a minus. I miss Jordan's subtlety, but at the same time, it was often frustrating when he was too subtle. I think Sanderson, himself a WoT fan before being recruited, felt some of the same frustration, and decided that he would make things clearer. It's also nice to see some long-running threads resolve themselves, and to see hints to how some of the others may resolve.

I'll mention one of those hints. I don't consider it a spoiler, exactly, as I'm mostly speculating from what was given in the book. However, it might imply a spoiler or two, so you've been warned.

Lews Therin comes out with a hint as to what went wrong when he and the hundred companions sealed the Bore. In order to seal it, they had to touch the Dark One directly with their power, and this is what tainted saidin. Also, we see an unexpected character wield the "True Power" (the Dark One's power), accidentally. How this is possible is not explained, unless it has something to do with the former taint on saidin. Still, since the "True Power" comes directly from the Dark One, it can't become any more corrupt by touching the Dark One directly, and if it can be wielded by someone trying to seal the Bore, then maybe there's a way to seal it without tainting any other forms of power. However, this solution does not really fit with the way the book ends, so it may be completely wrong.

One minor complaint about the ending: I think the sentiments were good, but I think Jordan would have done a better job getting them written down without coming across as ridiculously maudlin or sentimental. It's a place where his subtlety was needed. Still, I don't think anyone but Jordan himself could have done a better job than Sanderson on the book as a whole, and it's a bloody relief to know that the rest of the books are on their way, with no illness to make the wait time drag on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on...


John said...

I'm trying to hold out for a Kindle edition. I doubt I'll last very long, though

Qalmlea said...

Yeah, if my mom hadn't just up and bought it for me, I would have had it within a week of its release date anyway, even though I knew full well I wouldn't be able to read it until the semester was over.

As for Kindle, I'm still waiting for the price to come under $100. It may be a long wait, but I can live with that. ^!^

John said...

Turns out I didn't last any time at all. I let my Kindle at home when I went to Rock Springs, yesterday, so I had to stop a Hastings for a book. TGS was on sale for less than $20. It was a no-brainer.

Word Verification: namismst - an obscure, and slightly confused, system of philosophy based mainly on Ursula K. LeGuin's Earthsea cycle.