To get ready for the release, I reread the series last month. Like most people who were fans of the series I had been disappointed with the slowing pace and complexity of the story in the later books. What I realized last month was that a lot of that slowness was because of the time between the releases of the books. As the series got longer and longer, I was less likely to reread the entire series before a new book came out. But reading it all at once definitely helps everything work much better. It's not that "nothing" happens in those later books, it's that so much smaller stuff happens, that it's nearly impossible to keep it all in your mind. After rereading the series, I was incredibly excited about TGS.
So I went out and bought it Tuesday after work. I finished it on Wednesday. Sanderson does a great job of channeling the early Jordan. I don't know how much of the text was directly written by Jordan, but in the book several storylines are moved forward and a few of them are actually resolved. (Yes! Really!) The book does primarily focus on Rand, over Mat and Perrin, which was a complaint about several of the later books, but I think anyone who had gotten tired of Rand's attitude and behavior will like how the book ends. Egwene and the split of the White Tower is the other primary storyline that is dealt with, and I think that part of the story is perhaps some of the best since the first 3-4 books. There is still a ridiculous amount of stuff going on that isn't explained (yet), but it all feels like it's building in a way that will resolve itself that will be very exciting to read. With Knife of Dreams, you could definitely tell that Jordan was trying to pick up speed with his story, which makes sense, as he had already been diagnosed with amyloidosis and was trying to get as much finished as he could. And that increasing pace definitely is continued in TGS. There are still points where it slows down, but it's mostly done in short scenes with the other characters, which gives the appearance of that same tension and plot speed.
And there are a couple of very, very big shockers. I definitely can't wait for the next two books.