The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson

This entry is part [part not set] of 12 in the series The Wheel of Time

Book Review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Book Twelve in the Wheel of Time Series
Publisher: Tor Books; Reprint edition (September 28, 2010), Mass Market Paperback: 1120 pages , Language: English , ISBN-10: 0765341530 , ISBN-13: 978-0765341532

I really enjoyed this book, it was interesting and it resolved a number of major issues, I found the book hard to put down as I kept wondering what would happen next. Even though the book was written by Brandon Sanderson, I felt that it had much the feel of Robert Jordan and I do not think it is really noticeable that is was written by someone else.

The book starts with all the main players separated from each other, with each doing their own thing and resolving their own issues*.  There is also mention throughout the book about a storm that is coming and the dark clouds that are gathering, (hence the name of the book.) Rand is in hiding with Min and Nynaeve plus his enormous entourage of Aiel, Aes Sedai and Asha’man (men who can channel) in Arad Doman.  He wants to make peace with the Seanchan so he doesn’t have to worry about them when he fights at the final battle.  He also wants to help the people in Arad Doman by setting up a King and resolving the food shortage.

Rand is searching for one of the Forsaken, Graendal and has another one, Semirhage, in custody.  However, Semirhage escapes and tries to bind Rand with a male collar (a collar that makes the person into a slave through pain,) however Randy escapes this through accessing the True Power.  A power even more powerful than the One Power. He destroys Semirhage with balefire, a method of killing that causes the pattern of time to unravel so it is very dangerous, but it is also the only way to kill the Forsaken.  Every other Forsaken that Rand thought he killed, has re-appeared.

Min is researching out information to help Rand defeat the Dark One.  Nynaeve is now married to Lan, but Lan has gone North to defend the Gap (against the forces of dark coming into the South,) even though she is worried for Lan, she feels she must stay with Rand to assist him as she is the only Aes Sedai that he trusts.  (Although I am thinking that Rand will need to work with the female Aes Sedai in order to defeat the dark one and so must at some point overcome his fears.)

There is not much action in Mat’s story except that he is no longer with the Daughter of the Nine Moons, Tuon (who he married in the last book,) and he is traveling with the Band to Caemlyn, although there is an interesting story where they come across a town that has weird things happening due to the influence of the Dark One on the world.

There is also not much action in Perrin’s story except that he is now back together with Faille and since he routed the Shadio, the Aiel who do not support Rand, he has a large number of refuges to transport.

The story centres mostly around Rand and Egwene.  Egwene is the Amrylin Seat for the rebel group of Aes Sedai, who are camped outside of the White Tower, putting the Tower under seige.  Egwene has been captured by the White Tower and they have declared she is still a novice and has been sent for punishment every day.  She is fighting back by still acting like the Amrylin and refusing to show any discomfort with the punishment.  She builds up a lot of support in the Tower during this period and there is a lot of details about her predicament.

If you have not read the book, do not read anymore as it goes into more details about how the story progresses.

The Seanchan, with Tuon, now as Empress, declines Rands offer of peace and decides to make a raid of the White Tower to try to capture as many Aes Sedais as possible.  This way they will not be able to support Rand and will be of use to the Empire.  When the Seanchan attack the White Tower, Egwene is instrumental in fighting them off, so attains more popularity.  Also, Elaida, the Amrylin Seat of the White Tower (not the rebel group,) is carried away by the Seanchan.  This quite conveniently solves the problem of the White Tower and allows Egwene to make the Tower whole again.  In the process Verin, an Aes Sedai that has been helping Rand, comes to Egwene revealing that she is in fact of the Black Ajah, but only joined so she could study it.  She has discovered the names of over 200 Aes Sedai that are Black and gives Egwenethese names before she dies.  As she can only reveal this information the hour before her death due to the restrictions of the oath she took to the Dark One, she took poison before seeing Egwene so she could reveal the information.

After Rand is captured, once again, (as noted above) and once he accesses the True Source, he becomes very grim, hard and dark.  He knows he is going to die at the last battle and he has finally crossed the line that he set for himself of not killing a woman, when he kills Semirhage.  Then when he kills Graendal, he uses balefire and destroys an entire castle filled with people. He also feels he failed in Arad Doman because all the grain he arranged to arrive has gone bad, due to the influence of the Dark One, and he was unable to establish a King.  Everyone is very worried about him and send his father Tam to him, who Rand almost kills in anger.  Rand then decides to go Ebou Dar where the Seanchan are stationed to destroy them.  Once there he realizes that the people under the rule of the Seanchan are doing better than they were under his rule.  He still decides he is going to destroy city with balefire, but when he tries to access the one power he becomes very ill, the people around him show him a lot of concern, so he leaves the area.

He travels to Dragonmount and is consumed with despair, feeling what is the point of it all anyways, maybe it would be best to end it all now, using an immensely powerful sa’angreal, he pulls in huge amounts of the one power, much more than Lews Therin Telamon used when he killed himself and created the Dragonmount.  As he is contemplating the point of it all, Lews Therin Telamon, the voice in his head, says in a very sane voice, that maybe the point of it all is so that we can have a second chance. And this is a pivotal point for Rand, he realises that he does have a purpose, he realizes that the last time Lews Therin Telamon fought the Dark One he did it wrong, but maybe this time Rand can do it right.  So he takes all the power he has created and directs it to the sa’angreal, which he then destroys. Rand now knows that he will never hear Lews Therin Telamon’s voice again because he now knows that he and Lews are one and the same.  At the same time the clouds have broken and the sun is shining over Dragonmount.  This to me is a turning point for Rand.

I am looking forward to the next book in the series as well as the final conclusion.

*See my blog on the Wheel of Time Series as well as the previous books in the series

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