The book began like any other Wheel of Time book. A prologue with characters I may or may not know - a quick update on who is where before the story begins in earnest.
No clue is given at these times of which characters will be visible through the course of the book. With so many, the choices are endless, much like a soap opera.
Ah, but there's Rand, my shepherd boy. A boy no longer, but a man. A king, hunted and haunted and struggling to unify the known world before Tarmon Gaidon, The Last Battle.
What is this? It is Rand. All of him (except the hand he lost in the last book). I know him.
And there's Min, and Nynaeve, and Aveindha, and Cadsuane. Perrin and Faile. Mat and Talmanes and Tuon and ugly little Olver. Siuan and Gareth Bryne and Gawyn. They're all here! They survived!
Brandon Sanderson has done it. He's breathed life into people I feared dead with their creator. But, no, the young upstart has jumped into the gap with the determination of a Malkieri, the stubborness of a Stone Dog Aiel, and the creativity of an Aes Sedai working around the Three Oaths.
Yes, I saw the occasional stumble. Too many "agains" in the same sentence. An abundance of "nows" on occasion. The use of the word "watery" three times to describe blue eyes. Jordan wouldn't have done that.
But out of 760 pages, that's it? That's my gripe? Pretty small.
There was a chapter with Gawyn that didn't quite feel right, too emphatic, perhaps, but Gawyn isn't quite as established as many of the others, so Sanderson may have him and mold him.
When the Seanchan attacked Tar Valon, I couldn't see for the tears. Very annoying, by the way. How can you find out if everyone is okay when you can't see to read?
When Semirhage confronted Rand -again- I held my breath. Who would win?
When Rand attacked his own... Well, perhaps that little surprise is best held back. I will say, I also cursed Cadsuane for her meddling.
Towers of Midnight, the second to the last book is out. I can only hope we will discover how a pregnant Queen Elayne is coping, whether Moiraine survived her fall into the ter'angreal oh-so-many books ago, what new tricks the Aelfinn and Eelfinn have up their sleeves and the fate of al'Lan Mandragoran.
Of course, I will be searching for news of Rand, my tortured Dragon Reborn.
Thanks to Brandon Sanderson, I will know what happens to my boy. For his stunning success in taking up the challenge, I give The Gathering Storm my elusive 5 buttercups. I have never been so pleased to be so upset.
The Light protect you, Mr. Sanderson. You have ji to us, but we have toh to you.