I think many of WOTs readers have set the bar too high for Mr. Sanderson. The Wheel of Time has never been great literature. Its been great World building, great ideas and story arcs and mysteries that have left us breathless with anticipation over the years. Some of the books, FIRES OF HEAVEN and THE DRAGON REBORN in particular, are such great page turners that I can believe it when someone says they finished them in 1 or 2 sittings. Some of the latter books spent so much time weaving the various threads together that I would become bored at times. (Elayne sections, Galina, Sevanna sections) Everyone will have parts they dislike. Everyone will have parts they adore and read over and over. (Dumai wells--now Egwenes defense of the tower ) We need to just appreciate the fact that we are getting to see how Mr. Jordan meant his story to end. We are so blessed that Mr. Jordan had the foresight to extensively note and get onto paper all these great plot twists and turns.
Sure, Mat seemed a little off. Maybe Brandon needs to bone up on Mats POV sections in other books. Otherwise he did a fine job. Robert Jordan wasn't perfect either (how many times have we read that Vanin sat his horse like a sack of suet---too darn many) I thought some of the action parts more intense and personal than what we have seen in the other books. Honestly, Rands encounter with Semirhad was horrifying and really had me on pins and needles. Egwene in the upper towers protecting the Novices from the Seanchan has to be one of the most exciting chapters in ALL the books (never been an Egwene fan but it had me pumping my fist). We also finally see where the Aes Sedai may have a fundamental advantage over Seanchan Damane in their ability to link. I imagine this may be the one thing that sways Tuon (oops, shes dead isnt she?) to try not using "chained" damane since they can't link.
There were so many great revelations in this book. The bravery of Verin took me by surprise, though I long suspected her of being a darkfriend. (compulsion). I felt that Mats journey to the strange Mountain town was extraneous but fairly enjoyable. His story has long been my favorite (since he whipped Gawyn and Galad both at once with a quarterstaff), and I can't wait to see how he ends up.
All in all, I'm still surprised and chilled and excited by THE GATHERING STORM. 9/10