This twelfth volume of The Wheel of Time is one of the most famous of recent times. Simply because it was, at the time it was promised, expected to be the final volume of the (then) ongoing series. It was also the first volume written by Brandon Sanderson (then known simply for [b:Mistborn: The Final Empire|68428|Mistborn The Final Empire (Mistborn, #1)|Brandon Sanderson|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1312038619s/68428.jpg|66322]) with the aid of many, many notes left by Robert Jordan. When I picked up [b:The Eye of the World|228665|The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time, #1)|Robert Jordan|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1337818095s/228665.jpg|2008238] three or so years ago I knew that this twelfth volume of The Wheel of Time (due at the end of that year) was by a different author. I had no inkling of how I should feel about that as on the whole I dislike novels by other authors. Yet a friend had recommended the series strongly to me so I decided to read it and I personally very much enjoyed the story all the way up to this twelfth volume. Then when I read The Gathering Storm
I was impressed by how skilfully put together the story was and consider it to be one of the finest in the entire series.
Brandon Sanderson, as an author, has several strengths which combat Jordan's weaknesses nicely in this novel. One friend recently posed that there are two types of writers. There are those who are natural storytellers, more concerned with the plot ideas and details. Then there are the technicians, those who focus more on prose and literary qualities over stories. Now, they stated, most authors are combinations of both by nature, yet they seem to have one aspect more strongly over the other. I would say that, while Sanderson is a writer with ideas and natural storytelling ability, that he is a stronger technical writer than Jordan.
When I say that Sanderson is a stronger technical writer I'd like to consider it from this perspective. Do you believe, if their roles were reversed, that Jordan would be able to as effectively write Sanderson's stories? I personally theorise that Jordan would find it more difficult to adapt to Sanderson's style. Brandon Sanderson in this novel has done something that is ridiculously near impossible in copying Jordan's style and telling the story as Jordan wanted (more or less). Yes, there are flaws every so often when as a reader you realise that an expression or idea dropped by Sanderson does not quite fit into the logical confines of Robert Jordan's world yet for the most part he does a perfect job of capturing Jordan's writing style and the voices of the characters he fills this world with. If you disagree try writing a short story in the style of your favourite author and you will see how hard it can be to emulate writing.
In calling Sanderson a stronger technical writer I would also like to point out that Sanderson typically uses a less 'wordy' style than Jordan. That is not to say that Sanderson is not lengthy when he writes, indeed some of his sentences occasionally prove a touch awkward and he himself readily admits that he is not the greatest author of all time. However, that said Sanderson has an economy of language that works, it seems to me that he understands his limits and the theories of writing to a strong degree. On the other hand I feel that Jordan at times writes in a style that is overly long and above what he should aim for. I personal feel that Sanderson's sense of economy adds pace and energy to this novel in addition to the strength of Jordan's worldbuilding. I also felt that Sanderson added degrees of humour and warmth which I haven't felt from the other books in the series.
Now, I do not intend this to be a sign of disrespect for Robert Jordan. Indeed I think it would have been great if he had been able to finish the story himself. Yet Sanderson has clearly added something to this book that, for good or for bad, makes it a better and stronger story.