Writing from beyond the grave

When an author dies in the middle of writing a book, or before completing a series, there is the possibility that someone else will be enscripted to write for them, and finish their work. The thought of this can pull fans in two opposite directions; they may be dying to read the rest of the story, and to find out what happens in the end, and so would be grateful to the substitute author, and eager to read their offering. On the other hand, there may be a strong sense of loyalty to the original author, especially if they were well known, wrote prolifically, or had created a long series of books.

This is what happened when Robert Jordan passed away in 2007, leaving a plethora of fans and books, including the unfinished Wheel of Time series. In his case, death was not sudden, and so he had the chance to share his notes and ideas concerning the last book (split into three volumes). He also chose the writer to continue the work, Brandon Sanderson.

When I heard this news, I was sceptical. No-one could possibly follow such an amazing author, and the story would obviously suffer as a result. Still, it was equally impossible for me not to read the new installment, so judgement firmly in place, I bought the book and started to read.

I was halfway through The Gathering Storm before I remembered this wasn’t Robert Jordan, and that it was meant to be worse and that I would definitely hate it. Brandon Sanderson has done an incredible job, and the next book, Towers of Midnight is possibly my favourite of the entire series. It just goes to show that people can surprise you, and judging a book by its author (or cover, or genre etc.) is often mistaken. I’m so glad this series has continued, and am looking forward to reading the final final installment when it comes out next year.