The Gathering Storm

It’s hard to believe how much time I’ve spent listening to the Wheel of Time series in the last year — days and days of my life. I don’t regret that; I’ve been thoroughly entertained throughout. But it was with some trepidation that I began this twelfth book because it was the first written by Brandon Sanderson rather than Robert Jordan. And yes, I know Sanderson was writing the book based on notes and work done by Jordan, but it was still hard to see how a new author could keep all the threads of the 11 preceding books going in a familiar, consistent, and satisfying way. 

My concerns proved entirely unfounded. This may be better than several of the books Jordan wrote completely; if not better, then it’s every bit as good. As I was listening I was frequently astonished at how much the voices of the characters were consistent with what they’ve always been. It’s amazing, really. And the action picks up significantly in this book, which the pace of things moving along on every front with appropriate energy and tension. It’s just really well done. 

(By the way, I’m very curious how much Jordan actually left Sanderson to work with for these last three books. It must have been a significant body of work for this book to be so consistent. My brief searching on the topic has revealed little; I’d be interested in knowing more if there is a source that discusses this in greater detail.)

And while I don’t want to be too hard on Jordan, there is one very significant way that Sanderson improved upon Jordan’s writing in these books by orders of magnitude — Sanderson isn’t such a darned mysogynist! Unlike Jordan, Sanderson is not obsessed with women’s bodies, their cleavage and “bosoms,” their low-cut bodices and transparent dresses. He’s also not as interested in making every woman character, including the strong women who have great power and wisdom, into some sort of angry or bitter shrew. Some of these obsessions of Jordan’s really started getting out of hand in the middle books of the series, but in this book, they have all but disappeared. It’s refreshing and a huge improvement. 

Looking forward to the final two books…

Related: Just discovered The Brick of Time from Bricknerd, which is a colaboration (or coolaboration) of people building Lego® MOCs of Wheel of Time scenes related to the tv series. I’m amazed by the time and effort people put into such things. Pretty awesome. 

On the tv series: I watched it before I’d read/listened to any of the books and found it… ok. Based on my hazy memory it seems like it did not track the books at all, which is fine, I guess, but as is typical with these things the books are much better if you have the time.  

Kindle v. iPad for ereader? Kindle, apparently.

Being an Apple fan I have to admit I’ve always scoffed at the Kindle; why would anyone pay a couple hundred dollars for this thing when they could buy an iPod Touch for the same price or an iPad for a bit more and get so much more functionality in the bargain. Now, after seeing a comparison of the Kindle and iPad displays under a microscope, as well as both compared to printed text under magnification, I understand — the text on the Kindle is much, much more like printed text.

Oh, and just in case you’re thinking that the iPhone 4 makes these comparisons moot b/c of its famed “retina display,” think again. It’s far better than its predecessors, but still all pixellated compared to the Kindle.

(Original link via Daring Fireball.)