Thursday, July 30, 2009

The First Review of The Gathering Storm is up on

Our colleague Jason Denzel from Dragonmount was allowed to read The Gathering Storm early and, more interestingly (if I'm allowed to be selfish for a minute), Harriet agreed to let him publish his review of it.

Not very spoiler-ish, for those who worry (and Jason highlighted the section where he touched on some of the plot) - from someone like Jason you can expect the safest sort of early review, which may not be the case when people less concerned about the fans and respectful of the material will review it (though we've heard through the branches Tor is not planning to send ARCs of TGS out on any wide basis, which hopefully is the truth - we haven't waited so long to be spoiled!)

Needless to say, I'm a bit envious of him as no doubt all of you will be, but if anyone deserved that treat of reading the book early and posting the very first review of it, it's certainly Jason, after all his done over the years through Dragonmount to for both the series and its online fandom (including the warmest welcome to Linda and me as we opened this blog).

It's gonna be three very long months after reading this review, especially that bit he says about Rand which seems to confirm Linda's and my intuitions about the importance of the theme of "laughters and tears". As for what he says about Egwene, it's tantalizing too, to say the least.


Linda said...

I had a quick squizz at the timelines of the sub-threads as at the end of Knife of Dreams and top contenders for the main character/s missing is/are Elayne or Perrin. After Mat (who is in The Gathering Storm) they are the most ahead.

Hardly surprising that Rand gets darker and harder still; it fits entirely in with the dragon symbolism.

Unknown said...

This review served only to make me want that book right now! :)

Dominic said...

It did the same to me, but I'm trying to work on my patience.

"top contenders for the main character/s missing is/are Elayne or Perrin. "

RJ was very conscious of the mistake he made with CoT, starting each story line on the same day instead of picking up when important developments were to begin. I seriously doubt he would have gone this way again, as the structure was ackward, and it left him with very little possibility to advance the plot.

It does look like he structured KOD so some story lines got ahead and he wouldn't have to return to them again early in AMOL. He would pick them up when events start occuring there. Concretely, he seems to have decided to get Elayne up to a point where he could put aside the Andor story arc for a while. Brandon seemed to confirm this indirectly, when he mentionned that Elayne unlike others (I'm paraphrasing from memory) was pretty much where she needed to be for TG (in the broad sense - in Caemlyn and Queen - and surrounded by the right foes/players), and thus had a lot less presence than the other main characters early in AMOL.

Other than this, it's fairly obvious RJ chose to 'fast forward' Egwene's story line (perhaps even squeezing some on-screen events, giving us her reminescences of her early efforts in the WT instead) a bit in KOD, most likely so it could progress in parallel with Rand's from that point on.

Dominic said...

From the look of it - with all the information we have, my predictions would be this:

- TGS will have the greatest share of Rand's story line - he won't appear much again before the end of book 13.
- TGS will resolve a great deal of the Tower story arcs. Egwene might not be featured much in book 13 either. My expections at this point is that the ending of Rand's story line deals with his failure with Tuon - a decision he has no choice left but to launch his war on them, maybe. The first big climax will be the Seanchan attack on Tar Valon, with or without Rand involved.

- TGS will have basically two Mat chunks (with perhaps a few scattered chapters) - the first chunk will be early chapters dealing with his motives for deciding it's time to go to Ghenjei, the second chunk will be the second of the book's two climaxes: the events in the Finn's world, and the return of Moiraine.

- I expect Brandon decided to put a few of the Tuon chapters in TGS, the pre-TV attack ones. I don't expect a large presence, it would not be much in RJ's style to give us a lot of insight into Tuon, not when Rand's story and Egwene's story are both concerned with her plans and decisions. We will probably get 'teasers' about the Seanchan early on (a bit like the Suroth chapters), and then we may only get get a POV during the finale of the book, when Tuon reveals what lead her there, what went on among the Seanchan while Egwene and Rand's stories progressed. Otherwise I expect most of what we hear/see of Tuon and the Seanchan will be from Rand's POV/Egwene's POV - so what Tuon really thinks and plans remains vague and suspenseful until the climax.

- I expect Perrin won't appear much, and I suspect what we get is mostly teasers about what's going to take place later, and might not appear very early in the book (unless perhaps in short scenes). His chapters may be mid book etc.

- My bet on the main character not appearing at all is definitely on Elayne. I think Jordan intended to bring Perrin's story line and Elayne's story line to coincide on the timeline, so we may just get a few chapters that set up Perrin's decision to head into Andor in TGS. Book 13 will re introduce the Andoran events and Elayne, and the real developments in Perrin's story line. We will pick up with Mat once he's in Andor, after Ghenjei. That should also correspond roughly to the time the Bordermen approach Caemlyn (they are 50 miles north-east at the end of Elayne's KOD timeline) and to the time the first half of the Band of the Red Hand comes north. Elayne will mostly appear from the middle of book 13 to its finale, which I expect to be the 'Battle of Caemlyn'.

I don't expect much involvement from Taim and the BT just yet, beside what we hear of it from Rand's story line (apparently, this could end up with Rand sending Logain to deal with it, since Brandon stacked together the writing of the Elayne chapters, the Taim/Logain/NT chapters together).

Dominic said...

And I forgot... I think Jordan wanted to return to the more dynamic style he used earlier in the series by switching story line more often. For that to be possible, he needed to first synchronize the story lines instead of using the type of structure he had in COT/KOD, where he was going forth in one story line, then back to the beginning in the next etc.

If I'm right, this suggests he 'fast forwarded' Egwene's story line a bit so he could alternate between her story line and Rand's in AMOL. Mat chapters would be included as the timeline advances to the point he's reached, then Perrin and finally Elayne would return.

Now the book is split, it could mean TGS brings Rand and Egwene's story lines somewhat beyond Perrin's and Elayne's current point and book 13 will go back a bit to retell what went on with them in the meantime, with the battle of Tar Valon happening... at some point in book 13. Timeline wise, it would actually happen toward the middle of book 13, as events build up in Andor for the finale, would be my guess. This would 'free' Rand, Egwene and Tuon from appearing early in book 13, and let them rejoin the others in the finale, the famous event(s) that mark the true beginning of TG. And it seems most of Mat's story takes place in the aftermath of Ghenjei, not lead up to that.

One last comment: I wouldn't rule out Jason's tease about one main character not appearing at all being a reference to none of the above but instead to Lan...

Linda said...

All good thoughts Dom.

Of course Elayne is where she needs to be! Camlann/Caemlyn; foreseen so long ago.

I expect an Egwene climax and a Mat one.

And yes, if things follow true to form, there'll be little of Taim, the card RJ has played closest to his chest. Another hint, maybe two, is my prediction. :)

It's indeed much better to resolve at lest one or two plotlines than try and bring everybody forward contemporaneously as he did in COT.

Zach said...

I also think its Elayne that will be mainly absent in TGS. However you must consider that she still isn't queen - She needs to be crowned officially. At the moment she is still the daughter heir even though she has the support of the houses.

Dominic said...

Within the universe, she has yet to be crowned to be Queen of Andor.

Literary speaking, she has already won the throne, and on the timeline it takes place on April 16, a week after the Rand and Egwene story lines ended. So, when TGS opens, the battle at the Caemlyn gates may still be in the future.

Elayne's story line can pick up later, with the crowning ceremony itself or even later when she is already Queen and reminesces on what has happened in the first weeks of her rule, how the crowning went etc. There's not necessarily much to tell about these weeks. The way Jordan handled Elayne in COT/KOD reminds me of how he handled Perrin's in TSR. He seems to have brought it to the most interesting climax (ie: the battle that marked the end of the succession) in KOD and advanced the 'subplots' around (ie: Taim at the BT, the Bordermen, the DF/BA). My guess is that he did this (and brought all this further on the timeline than the other characters's stories) so he could leave Andor on the side for a while, to return to this story line after the issues foreshadowed through KOD have reached the point when it's time to tell them in full again. He did much the same with Perrin in TSR, leaving the 'boring' aftermath of the battles, when the TR reorganized themselves, untold. By LOC, when Faile and Perrin returned, it was all done and they were about to leave for Caemlyn. I expect something similar with Elayne in AMOL. Initially, Jordan may have had a ' re introduction' scene early on, but I suspect if the core of the story line is indeed in book 13, Brandon will have move all this to the book 13 prologue. Andor is a fairly complex story line, with tons of minor players. It requires a few 'slow' chapters with a lot of exposition (bath scenes, meetings, map room stuff etc.) to re introduce the more casual readers to all the players, all the open issues - before the action can pick up again. Those slow scenes are present in WH, COT and KOD - and they will be there again at some point in AMOL - but logically, since the books are now split, Brandon should probably want to avoid re introducing Elayne in TGS and have to do it again in book 13, unless he's forced to by the timeline.

All that said, it's still quite possible Perrin is the one who is totally absent, while Elayne makes a very brief apparition of some kind, for example Egwene visits her dreams to ask her to meet her in TAR, or Amys and co. visit her dreams, or Aviendha pays her a brief visit.

Deadsy said...

I don't think he'll have to attack the Seanchan but that might just be wishful thinking. I think they could get the truce, but it will be too late for the WT. They'll already be in the air at that point.