Actually, I have a certain feeling The Gathering Storm can become my favourite book in the series, I'm immensely enjoying it right now. I'm taking every moment I can to keep reading, and I'm slowly crawling to the middle of the book, and I love it so far. Much better than both Crossroads and Knife, in my opinion.The Gathering Storm
is my favorite WoT book since The Shadow Rising
. The juxtaposition of Rand and Egwene's arcs really make the book for me. Both are brought to satisfying conclusions. Unfortunately, the next book suffers because of this, as half of the characters are a significant stretch of time behind those two. It is really weird chronologically, especially with Perrin, who does not catch up until over halfway through the book, and how chapters from months in the future are inserted between chapters from him, Mat, and many other characters. One example is how the ending of tGS talks about events that have yet to be shown from Perrin's perspective
As for my thoughts on the final two, TOM has many really awesome moments: tons of stuff involving whatever the hell that dream world is called, the Tower of Ghe-something, Perrin's development, Nynaeve's testing... so many things happen at a breakneck pace that was necessary to fit everything in before the finale, though it almost seems to be too fast. AMOL has a really satisfying conclusion (the last few chapters and the epilogue ... just... very wow). The stuff that leads up to it... not quite so great. The constant battle scenes really make the book drag, though that one certain chapter is amazing. Beyond a few cringe-inducing lines of dialogue and some bullshit world-building inconsistencies that almost ruin Egwene's final scene, which is one of, if not the, the most beautifully written and powerful death scenes in the series, I have few gripes. There are some really awesome scenes (a conversation between Elayne and Rand early in the book come to mind), and it is a wonderful conclusion to one of my favorite fantasy series.
And, for non-spoilers, Chapter 37 of the final book is really long. As in, longer than a certain book that shares its name.
edit: also, I hated Mat (and his chapters) for a long time
Aww, Mat is my favorite of the three ta'veren. I really grew to like him around tSR; his humor makes his chapters the most enjoyable of the series.
I have already written quite a bit, but a few last things:
Have either of you read New Spring? If you have not, I recommend doing so before book 13. The best place to read it is between CoT and KoD, as that is when it was published, though both of you are already past that point.
Also, if you like Brandon's writing style in the last few books, I recommend picking up his Mistborn
trilogy. It is an easy and enjoyable read and sports one of the best magic systems and conclusions I have ever read in fantasy. If you are in the mood for something longer, his Stormlight Archive
is also a good choice. It is projected to be a ten book series, two of which are currently published. Brandon writes fairly quickly, and has stated that he plans to release two books every three years. So, unlike with aSoIaF, there will be no six year gaps between books. The first entry is Brandon's best work to date.
As for my own reading plans, I am seriously considering learning Japanese so that I can read Shinsekai Yori. I absolutely loved the anime adaptation (a top 5 anime series IMO, and my current favorite) when I watched it a few months back, and have heard that the series left out some really powerful scenes from the source material. Unfortunately, there is no official translation, so it will have quite a steep learning curve associated with it. Though, as a bonus, I will no longer need subtitles, a very important step in my quest to become an uber-elitist.