Saturday, November 07, 2009

#1

If you didn't hear the news, we got a call on Wednesday informing us that THE GATHERING STORM had hit the number one spot on the New York Times hardcover Best Seller list. This was accompanied by hitting number one on the independent bookseller's list and being the bestselling hardcover fiction book at Barnes & Noble and at Borders. (And at the last one, I believe, we were the overall #1 book regardless of genre, which is impressive.) We did, in fact, knock Dan Brown out of the #1 spot—by a wide margin.

How do I feel? Relieved. When I first began this project, my largest fear by far was that I would disappoint the fans. As I have stated before, I consider this your book and not mine. That doesn't mean I'm writing it to please the fans specifically—I'm writing these novels to be the best blasted books that they can be, narratively, structurally, and characterizationally. (Is that a word?) My goal is not to produce fan moments, per se, but to produce the best story possible, if that distinction makes any sense.

Either way, the last four Wheel of Time books had all hit #1, and I worried a lot that it would be on my watch where we failed to do so. It is a testament to the beloved nature of the series, mixed with the ardor of the readers, that we have weathered a change in authors without a dip. We actually outsold KNIFE OF DREAMS' first week, which is amazing.

The thing is, I don't feel I can take much—if any—credit for this. The reason this book turned out as well as it did (and thank you all for your kind emails, posts, and reviews) was because of the work Robert Jordan did before he passed away. He literally lay on his deathbead dictating scenes for you, too weak to write. He loved his readers dearly, and those of you lucky enough to meet him know that he was a truly kind and generous man.

Beyond that, the strength of this book is directly tied to the excellent storytelling that came before it. It doesn't take much experience with construction to realize that the foundation of a building is far more important—structurally—than the roof. Robert Jordan's skill with worldbuilding, characterization, and plotting was amazing. Working on these books has only increased my respect for his abilities.

None of you ran out to get the book because of me. My job was, and continues to be, to stay out of the way and let you enjoy the story that Robert Jordan wanted you to have. I am honored and humbled that so many of you have enjoyed the book. Thank you for what you have done in giving me a chance to prove myself to you.

Somewhere, Robert Jordan is smiling.

3 Comments:

Blogger Martin L. Cahn said...

Brandon, you have done a great job in your mission to keep Robert Jordan's story alive. I just bought the book Thursday night (two nights ago) and am already half-way through. Despite its size, TGS is already one of the most accessible of the books. It was so easy to fall back into the story, I'm very happy to say. I have nothing where I have gone "Jordan wouldn't have done that," because nothing has jarred me in any way. The writing is seamless, in that regard.

Two things, a statement and a question. First, I wish I'd been able to get away on the 27th when you were with Harriett in Charleston. It wouldn't have been a major drive for me (I live in Camden, near Columbia), but had other obligations. I saw the Storm report on the evening and it looks like everyone had a lot of fun. Perhaps next time for ToM, eh?

Finally, I noticed Mr. Jordan's signature on the title page of the copy I bought. If there had been talk of that being done in some way, I don't remember. Can you talk a little about how that came to be?

Thanks for a great, great book!

5:21 PM  
Blogger Shea said...

Just some small constructive criticism, sorry.

The fact is, the women aren't real.

The actions of females in the new book are generally weak, along the lines of asking for help or failing to be strong. The best example of this is the scene where Egwene drops the soup. I don't really need to tell you how unlikely this action is, I'm sure someone has already told you. The females in the series are strong, stubborn and indomitable. The new characters are weak and seem to have no hidden agenda, no mystery, they are simply too transparent and lack a subconscious drive that gives the original characters substance.

The subtle differences between male and female, with their different sources and uses of power is integral to the series and it is important to keep this alive.


It is vital to maintain depth and verisimilitude in the characters because it is what makes it a series you can read not once but many times. I found I struggled to read the last book the second time round because I wasn't noticing anything I hadn't seen in the first reading.

Having said this, I did enjoy the faster pace and greater resolution in your novel. On the basis of it I will definitely buy the other books, as will other fans. But for your own satisfaction as a writer given an opportunity others can only dream of, try and understand more than Jordan did about women, and to a lesser extent men. It will turn your future writing into something larger.

You have the pace, you just need the depth.

5:04 AM  
Blogger Dana Hunter said...

Brandon, I just got done with The Gathering Storm. I can see precisely why it was #1.

Harriet made the right choice in choosing you to finish. I'm so grateful to you, and to her, and to all of those who made this possible. It feels so damned good to read a WoT book again, to know that Mr. Jordan's vision didn't die with him.

Thank you, Brandon. From my heart and soul, thank you.

I can't wait for Towers of Midnight!

1:52 AM  

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