For the past few books of THE WHEEL OF TIME, I’ve had this thought itching the back of my mind, a nagging feeling that Robert Jordan’s editors had let him down. It felt as though while the sales figures continued to climb and the story reached its middle chapters, the editors got lazy.
This plotline went nowhere? Oh well, the guy’s a best-seller.
This scene was unnecessary? Oh well, the guy’s a best-seller.
This character isn’t as likeable as the author imagines? Oh well, he’s a best-seller.
And then Brandon Sanderson came along, picked up Robert Jordan’s notes, and suddenly there was a fresh set of eyes looking at things. Jordan had already started giving the story momentum again in KNIFE OF DREAMS, but THE GATHERING STORM is the most streamlined and consistently exciting plot since this epic story was in its infancy.
I’ve read other comments that Mat has changed, and he is slightly different, but to me the largest difference was the streamlined plot. It was like someone had finally gotten Jordan the editor he’d been needing for the last six books. Characters and plots had definitive arcs, and Egwene and Rand each benefitted from the handling of their storylines.
Egwene, who had been dull in some of the previous books in which she and the rebels did nothing but sit in their camp and complain about their headaches, provided the book with its (and possibly the series’) most gripping action sequence. Rand finally hit rock bottom, and Sanderson showed a side of Rand we hadn’t seen before – and allowed us to see just how tortured he really is.
Mat and Perrin disappeared for most of this book, but I was OK with it. Rand and Egwene’s plots carried the book because they made real advancements and they were exciting. I wanted to find out what happened next to both characters, so I didn’t miss Mat and Perrin as I have in the past.
With THE GATHERING STORM, Sanderson has done an outstanding job in an unenviable situation. Plopped into the middle of a huge epic with a monstrous cast of characters and plotlines, Sanderson maintained Jordan’s strengths, while shoring up Jordan’s weaknesses in building streamlined plot arcs – much like an editor should have been doing all along.