This question is a little difficult to discuss. Favorite Fantasy novel. It’s not that I don’t have one, it’s that most Fantasy books tend to be in large series which can make choosing a single novel difficult. It would also be really easy for me to simply choose Mistborn, which I listed the first day as my favorite series. So as I thought of this more before doing my post, I decided to do The Gathering Storm, which is book 12 of the Wheel of Time. Yes, I said book 12, which means that this post will have a couple of spoilers for the series.
I’ve been a fan of the Wheel of Time for several years, and I was one of the many who was saddened when Robert Jordan passed away, however, after reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised with both Sanderson’s writing in the series as well as the direction that the series is going. Some of the later books were very slow in comparison to the earlier books, and many people were turned off from the series by the later books. In all fairness, the later books (specifically #9 & #10) are very tough to read, especially your first time through the series, the second time I read them they were much more enjoyable.
Jordan set up a huge story, and with book #11 he started to bring the story toward it’s conclusion, finally wrapping up plot threads that were started 6 or 7 books earlier. As much fun as book #11 was, book #12 completely blew it away. The Gathering Storm focuses on the two main characters of the entire series, Rand and Egwene. The juxtaposition of their two situations is brilliantly executed in this book. Egwene is taken from a place of power and placed into the lowest situation she could be in, returned to being a Novice after serving as the Amyrlin Seat. She shows a great strength of character while having almost no actual power or authority. In comparison, Rand has enough power to literally destroy the world, but is struggling with his own interior struggles as he is trying to ready his armies, as well as himself, for the upcoming battle.
It is always interesting to watch characters as they go through their arcs from weakness to strength. In this book the journey is more from one type of strength to another. It’s also something very difficult to do with books. Once a character in a book has reached a state of power, figuring out what to do with them is a task rarely done well in fiction. In this book there are multiple characters both dealing with this situation and they are handled perfectly. Both characters achieved their levels of power much earlier in the series to the point where they are already 2 of the most powerful people in the world, both in terms of magical strength as well as political power.
I love this series, and this is quite possibly the strongest individual book in the series, which is saying something considering the series as a whole is considered by many to be one of the top Fantasy series of all time.