I have waded my way through what are currently the last three volumes of the Wheel of Time (11: Knife of Dreams; 12:The Gathering Storm; 13:Towers of Midnight). Knife of Dreams was written by Robert Jordan, and the last two volumes by Brandon Sanderson after RJ’s death. I say “the last two volumes”, but of course there is to be a final volume 14: A Memory of Light, which is dues out near the start of 2013.
So these three volumes span the departure of Robert Jordan and the taking over of Brandon Sanderson. I have to say that, stylistically, I barely noticed the difference. BS has done a great job of writing in the same style as all the previous volumes. He has obviously got into the heads of all the main characters, because I wouldn’t have known that 12 and 13 hadn’t been written by Robert Jordan if someone hadn’t told me. If you see what I mean.
What I did notice was that the pace picked up. Several subplots got resolved and the old heave-ho. The various forces are coming together. Nearly everyone knows about nearly everything now: there is much less of the forced misunderstandings and general lack of knowledge by key players as to what other key players were up to, and why.
In short, the last two volumes have reversed the trend that I had noticed developing in volumes 8–10. There is much less introspection, and less self-indulgence when it comes to describing what the characters get up to. In the middle volumes, RJ seemed to spend ages describing every minute shift in female clothing, and explaining how each one somehow linked with a change in thought processes, emotions, or character generally. It got awfully tedious at times. But BS has done away with much of that, and we now focus on the key aspects of what the characters do, and how it all bears on the basic plot, which is now speeding full steam ahead.
So I say well done Brandon Sanderson, and I’m looking forward to A Memory of Light next year.