The Shadow Rising was too damn long. Although it is a good read, the length turned me off and soured my enjoyment of the story. This might seem like unnecessary ranting since I’ve completed the first three books in the series, which are all hefty, and read the prequel of the series shortly after completing The Shadow Rising. But for some silly reason I thought (or convinced myself) that by the fourth book Jordan would realize how unnecessary it is to make his books so long for no reason. I should have known better. The length of the series should have been an indicator that Jordan never realized that he was going overboard with length.
Despite that, this installment of the Wheel of Time series was great in that we learn more about this fantasy world as we see it begin to change. We see a bit more of the Aiel and learn their history; we realize how corrupt the White Tower is, or rather, how divided it is; and we see Perrin become the leader he is destined to be. We pick up with everyone (Rand, Perrin, Mat, Moiraine, Lan, Nynaeve, Elayne, Egwene, Faile, Loial, Thom) in Tear. Rand has Callandor and is trying to control his power while staving off Moiraine’s influence, rule Tear, and keep some of the Forsaken at bay. Mat wants to leave Tear but can’t because of Rand’s pull as a ta’veren. Perrin wants to return to Two Rivers to help his people, who are being attacked by White Cloaks and trollocs, but wants to protect Faile as well. So, for the while, they dawdle.
The first thing that jumped out at me in this installment of the Wheel of Times series is that Rand is no longer the leading voice. He is still the protagonist of the story, however, the story is told from the perspective of other characters—mainly Perrin, Egwene, and Mat. Though this book begins with the original group split up and at different parts of the land, they are all pulled to the same place; similar to book two, The Great Hunt.
In one spot—a valley in the Mountains of Mist—is Moiraine, Lan, Perrin, Loial, Min, and Rand. Feeling a bit trapped and thinking that he is a threat to his friends, Rand runs off. When she learns of this, Moiraine sends Min to Tar Valon to inform the Amyrlin Seat. The Shienaran army she sends to Jehannah to await her instructions (I think Jordan did this to get them out the way, for now). Meanwhile she, Lan, Perrin, and Loial pursue Rand, who is heading for Tear. Rand is such a strong ta’veren, a person who is strongly connected to the Wheel of Time, that he leaves evidence of his presence in his wake. There are villages where nearly everyone gets married and others that are destroyed. Along the way, Perrin learns that he can enter Tel’aran’rhiod, the dream world, and he meets a pretty but annoying girl called Faile (which means falcon), who attaches herself to the group.
I’ve continued on the journey with Rand by returning to the Wheel of Time series with The Great Hunt. It’s another great story: well-crafted though repetitive in some spots. We are thrown in another adventure and once again we journey across the land sometimes pursuing and sometimes fleeing from the Dark One’s forces. Rand is still our point of focus and where the first book dealt with Rand’s loss of innocence and discovery of his strange abilities, this installment focused on his struggle to accept his identity and his role in the pattern the wheel weaves.
In this installment, Rand and his friends—Loial, Perrin, and Mat—along with the Shienaran warriors and Verin Sedai of the Brown Ajah chase after the filthy Padan Fain to retrieve the Horn of Valere and Mat’s dagger from Shadar Logoth, which Fain and the trollocs stole. Fal Dara was infiltrated by trollocs, who came to rescue Padan Fain from its dungeons. Obviously they had inside help since Fal Dara is made to withstand trolloc attacks. It’s also at this time that the Amrylin Seat came to visit. Rand tried to keep away from her since he was afraid he would be gentled for being able to channel. However, he was surprised to be let go. Apparently the Amrylin, like Moiraine Sedai, believes Rand to be the Dragon Reborn. But Rand still refuses to accept this. So stubborn!