"THE GATHERING STORM," by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, Tor, 784 pages, $29.99 (f)
Robert Jordan fans have cause to rejoice. The latest installment in the Wheel of Time series, despite being partially written by a new author, Brandon Sanderson, stays true to the integrity and story line of the first 11 books.
Here, the story picks up with the main character, Rand al'Thor, preparing the world to fight an evil god and his many minions in a battle for all humankind. However, while attempting to ally the world to his cause and face the last battle united, al'Thor must also fight impending insanity and deep depression.
This is precisely where Sanderson's voice and writing differs from his predecessor. Sanderson offers a more detailed look into the characters' minds, using much more internal dialogue than Jordan's previous books.
Sanderson drives the plot with twists and turns that would be impressive alone, but he also switches viewpoint multiple times per chapter. The bouncing around in the story line is jarring at times, but it also creates a sense of urgency, moving toward the fast-approaching final battle.
Also, the constant perspective changes allow Sanderson to divulge more about some of the minor players, and it is clear that Sanderson has an intricate understanding of the personality traits of all the characters.
The book's culmination is enthralling and a challenge to put down as the pace increases exponentially with each chapter. Nevertheless, the battle scenes were not as engrossing as those in the previous 11 books. Sanderson does not rely on the action to push the plot, choosing instead to use internal conflicts to maintain interest.
"The Gathering Storm" is the best installment in the Wheel of Time series since the third novel, "The Dragon Reborn," and will not leave fans disappointed.