The Gathering Storm: Speed up the audio or get the print version

fantasy book reviews Robert Jordan Brandon Sanderson The Wheel of Time: The Gathering StormThe Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Since Bill has extensively reviewed The Gathering Storm (above) I’ll just add a few of my impressions and address the audio version.

First of all, I’m happy to report that THE WHEEL OF TIME is slowly getting somewhere. Though The Gathering Storm is excessively and needlessly lengthy (why do I, after all this time, still need the clothing styles of each country detailed?), a few things actually happen. And a few important things! Some storylines are mercifully wrapped up and it finally appears that the “storm” is truly “gathering” and that perhaps we might actually see some rain or lightning in the next volume.

Also importantly, the transition from Robert Jordan to Brandon Sanderson has been seamless. I have no idea how much of The Gathering Storm was written by Mr. Jordan before his death, but it all felt like Mr. Jordan. A couple of times I thought I detected Brandon Sanderson in the background during the Mat chapters, but this is a good thing because I like Sanderson’s sense of humor. Good job, Mr. Sanderson!

The seamless transition is mainly a good thing, but it means that most of the issues I’ve had with THE WHEEL OF TIME are still there — the pace is excruciatingly slow (for all the pages in this big book and all the traveling going on, there’s not much overall plot movement), there are too many characters with similar names (I had to look up several of them at Encyclopedia WOT), and each of the cultures is unrealistically stereotyped (e.g., the Aiel still won’t look at horses, the Domani women are seductive, etc). There are fewer braid pulls this time, though spanking is still the preferred method of punishment.

As Bill said (above), The Gathering Storm is very much like Knife of Dreams. The plot is moving toward resolution, but there’s a lot of filler along the way. Bill reported that Sanderson had streamlined the prose, but honestly I couldn’t detect that; it sounded the same to me. However, this may be because I was listening to The Gathering Storm on audio with the familiar voices of husband-and-wife team Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.

And speaking of the audio, here’s a confession: Listening to a WHEEL OF TIME novel on audio is a massive undertaking: 33 hours of life in this case. Not only is the pace of the novel too slow, but Kramer and Reading read it too slowly, also. But I have a trick for this: I speed up the audio to 1.4 times normal speed and then it’s tolerable. In fact, it sounds like a normal reading rate at this speed. I recommend the audio version if you have the capability of speeding it up. If you don’t, make sure you’re up to 33 hours of leisurely listening or else get the print version.


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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

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6 comments

  1. So it doesn’t sound like Alvin and the Chipmunks when you speed it up? ;)

  2. haha, no! It just sounds like someone talking faster. In this case, it’s the speed I want to hear it anyway. It’s not like you really need to listen to it slowly — there’s nothing difficult to process. For some books I actually have to pause the audio and think, but not for a WOT book. :sleep:

  3. Too bad there’s no software that can pick out “tugged her braid” and make the CD skip those bits.

    In the audio book I’m listening to, I actually went to B&N and sneaked a look at the print version to make sure I’d heard something right. It was sort of a huge thing dropped in really casually and in an accent.

  4. When I have something I need to see in print, I use the “look inside” feature on Amazon which is searchable (if that book has it). Often, though, I borrow the print version from the library and use it for reference. If you’re listening to a new book, though (which I think you are), then you may not be able to get it at the library. And of course if the book isn’t out yet because you have an ARC, then you may not find it searchable, either.

  5. Is she still tugging her braid? I stopped reading part way through book one years ago because of that particular annoying habit.

  6. Sarah, it is obvious that Mr. Sanderson realizes we’re annoyed with the braid tugging. In this last book, a couple of times she grabs the braid and stops herself from tugging, or rationalizes why she can let herself succumb to the annoying habit. It’s clear he’s turned it into a habit she’s trying to kick, especially since she realizes that it’s an obvious sign that she’s annoyed or stressed or mad and she wants to hide these emotions like an Aes Sedai should.

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