I just finished reading "The Gathering Storm," the 12th book in The Wheel of Time series. I approached this book with a bit of apprehension. On the one hand, Robert Jordan had set up such an intenese world, would it be possible for a different author to take the reins and keep the world in tact? On the other, before reading The Gathering Storm, I went through and re-read every book in The Wheel of Time series (starting with New Spring, a prequel, and then the entire series proper--it took almost a year, what with work and real life getting in the way), and there was a lot to dislike in the series--in some ways, it felt stagnant.
Between reading Knife of Dreams (the 11th book in the series) and The Gathering Storm, I read "Mists of Avalon" as a part of the Sword and Laser online book club. Never having read any Arthurian legends before, I was (slightly) startled to look back at The Wheel of Time series and see all the parallels (some very direct and obvious, down to the names of characters). The 12th book surprised me from this perspective, though, as there weren't as many storylines that paralleled the Arthur stories as I've noted in past books.
I won't go into too many plot detailes here--I don't know how many people here actually read the books or would care about spoilers. I will say that I was surprised by some of the turns this book took. I was also (happily) surprised that this book felt like it brought me back to the wonder I felt when reading The Eye of the World (the first book in the series). I think this book breathed new life into the series. I was sucked into the book pretty quickly (something I can't say for books 9-11), and though there was a slow spot (for me) about 1/3 of the way in, I got through that fairly quickly and the rest of the book went by and left me hungering for more (I finished this book in about 3 weeks, which is very quick for me).
My favorite storyline in the series has definitely become the Egwene storyline. This book didn't dissapoint with that. Though I used to enjoy the Perrin/wolf storyline, over the last few books (and including this one), I have become bored with him. I also really liked where the Mat storyline was going, though this book felt like it was a bit of a slowdown for him...his story hasn't gotten to where I expected it would, yet, and seems to be taking its time now.
Next up for me is a quick "candy" read (actually I'll be listening to it from Audible), Hell Hole, a book in the John Ceepak series by Chris Grabenstein.