It was quite sad news when a friend of mine told me about Robert Jordan’s death in 2007. I started to read the Wheel of Time series in the mid-nineties, then it was the German translations that were split up in two or three books for each of the original books. Since each of these shorter books costs about as much as one of the originals I soon switched to the original English version. International book imports just became affordable and I discovered my preference for original versions of books and movies… So I started over. And now, a decade later the series was about to suddenly end without a conclusion. Sad news, indeed.
So it was quite good news when the publisher Tor Books announced that their will be a conclusion nevertheless. Jordan had left enough material so that another author could take over the task to write the concluding volume. A kind of licensed fan-fic. And it is certainly better than most fan-fic I know. Brandon Sanderson – I had never read anything by him before – did a great job. Though he did not try to imitate Jordan – thank you! – his style keeps true to the spirit of the series. There is less of the Tolkienesque descriptions of the environment, there is definitely a faster pace than in the other installments. This faster pace may, of course, be due to the looming conclusion of the series. Yet, finally some loose ends are tied up. This is rather satisfying. Jordan seemed not to be able to round off any of the many sub-plots. There was always another twist that prolonged the story.
As I was not following any of the discussions and (p)reviews when the imminent publication of The Gathering Storm finally was announced – I did not want to spoil my own reading experience of the book – I was rather surprised when I learned that this last book is not the last book. There will be another two installments of the Wheel of Time series coauthored by Sanderson as there was too much material to cover it in just one book. And indeed, The Gathering Storm does not leave the impression that Sanderson needed to pad the story.