Rand al'Thor, having lost his hand to an ambush by the Forsaken Semirhage, sets out to bring together the nation of Arad Domon to stop the Seanchan onslaught into the country. A darkness has fallen upon the Dragon Reborn but will it affect his agreement with the Seanchan? And how far will his allies have to go to bring him back to the Light? Egwene al'Vere continues her drive to undermine Elaida's rule from inside the White Tower. But with the Seanchan threat looming ever closer can she achieve her goals in time? Or will the Shadow hold her up long enough to break the Tower beyond repair?
The Gathering Storm is the twelfth of fourteen books in Robert Jordan's fantasy series The Wheel of Time. The book is the first one to not be written solely by Robert Jordan after his tragic death, with Brandon Sanderson chosen to finish the series. Originally planned to be the final book of the series, it was split into three books when it became apparent that a single book would be too large to print. Upon its release the book went to number one in the New York Times Bestseller List, the fifth consecutive book in the series to do so.
Obviously with a change in writer we see a change in the style of the writing techniques. The beautiful descriptive style of Robert Jordan is gone, which is a shame because you always had a picture painted in your head down to the last detail in each chapter. The pace also picks up, becoming a bit frantic in places. However this leads to the book appearing to have more urgency which, considering how close we are to the series climax helps the story along. Some of the main characters become more abrasive and lose some to their subtlety in dealing with the factions of the world. Mat and Perrin do not feature much in this book but we do see them through visions of what Rand sees when he thinks of them. This does annoy me as I believe it unnecessarily gives away the two characters story lines in the next book so you go into it knowing what to expect and not being surprised by what happens. The story lines the book focuses are extremely dramatic and lead you all the way to the huge climaxes at the end of the book.
As mush as I did miss the writing style of Robert Jordan I do feel that this book was a very good read and really helped push the story along towards the inevitable final confrontation. They chose well when they picked Brandon Sanderson to take over from Jordan, seeing that rather than keep the same style they would change slightly to make a more urgent and dramatic final stage as we approach the end.