The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book destroyed me.
Even with, what, a third read, it destroyed me. Knowing what would come and experiencing it yet again are two different things.
I could mention how I have been a long-time fan and remember waiting so many years between books, my sadness with RJ's death, my amazement and trepidation at learning that a then-unknown author would take up the reins and finish this most epic of stories, but I won't. It was very well done. Better than well done.
Instead, I'll just focus on the characters and the emerging story. I'm caught between my utter fascination between Egwene's story and Rand's. I couldn't tell which one destroyed me the most.
On the one hand, Egwene finally does what she had set out to do, in glorious fashion, and how it happens is one of the most satisfying sequences I've ever read, practically anywhere, in any literature. It takes time to tell a story properly, and her rise is one of the very best.
But then there's also Rand's story, his transformation into stone, steel, and quendiar. His utter despair, his transformation into a suicide bomber strapped to the pattern, to the wheel of time itself, is utterly heartbreaking. He just wants to fight the last battle and die. He's utterly traumatized by all that has happened and refuses to be caged in any kind of box ever, ever again. It's tragic and it made me howl. It's made all the worse because he's surrounded by so many people who would help him, be his conscience, or guide him back from the brink, or ANYTHING at all, and yet he is constrained by the prophesies, the memory of Eliadia's box, his own assumptions. He's utterly tragic, and after he gets caught again, he goes utter Darth Rand.
The fact that he and the pattern, itself, are so intricately twined, is what makes this so freaking horrible. All of it mirrors itself in the literature, and everyone suffers because of it.
I'm frankly amazed at how GOOD this is. Even now, or especially now, upon re-reads, how well it stands up and hurts even MORE than before.
And then there was the end of the book. I'm in utter shock. I was, before, and I am now, again.
Honorable mentions as to the other scenes which broke me: Verin. She is an utter Chad. The prime example of the best that the Aes Sedai can be. And if you know the other bit, you know. And I still stand by what I say. Of course, when it comes to Rand, too, being in a very similar circumstance, the implications are somewhat -- crazily -- dire. It puts a new perspective on just who are the true big-bads in the series. If any of the Forsaken can even come close to these internal character conflicts.
The implications all around are astounding and lend so much depth to these books, but this book in particular.
Yes, I'm squeeing. I don't think I can stop. And I don't think I shall.
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