Reading a book for the first time is filled with moments of wonder. If the story is gripping, you spend most of the time wide-eyed, reading quickly, as if the words already set in the book could somehow escape you. Approaching that book a second time does not dim the wonder but neither does the wonder consume you as on the first read. Things you glazed over in your excitement to know what happens next begin to emerge.
Such was the case a few weeks ago when I read A Game of Thrones a second time. I was surprised at myself that I missed the blatant foreshadowing at the beginning of the story—the direwolf dead with the horn of a stag broken in its throat. Martin even referred back to that scene a few times thereafter and still I failed to notice it. I was too mesmerized then. Too curious and reading too quickly to pay much attention to details.
This isn’t surprising to anyone who has read the books in George Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, or watched the television show on HBO. The story centers on various characters spread across the kingdoms of Westeros and its neighboring lands. It is filled with twists and numerous cliff-hangers that will keep you both hooked and frustrated with GRRM since the character perspectives tend to switch from chapter to chapter.
Although I knew the ending and what would happen to the characters later in the series, I still anticipated the turn of every page. Again, I found myself staying up late, wide awake, and reading quickly to satiate my curiosity and desire for a happy ending though I knew better. I did not expect this of myself. I thought my second time through would be much calmer, as it usually is, but I was wrong.
New Spring, the prequel of The Wheel of Time series, seems to be the shortest book in the pack but that doesn’t mean it’s quick reading. Shortly after completing The Shadow Rising, I rushed to the bookstore to pick up New Spring. I was too curious about the history in the series to wait until later or until I completed the series to read the prequel. So much had occurred prior to the first four books and I wanted the details on those events. What were Moiraine and Lan up to before finding the boys in Two Rivers? What was going on with the Seanchans and were the Forsaken loose and prowling about then too? What was Padan Fain doing before he became a peddler in Two Rivers? The Aes Sedais mentioned something of Padan Fain’s past in The Eye of the World but I want more details.
I thought the prequel would provide a broad view of key characters, noting their activities prior to book one but such was not the case. Instead, the prequel focused on Moiraine and Lan, mostly Moiraine; however, it is Lan who begins the story. The Aiel Wars are winding down and ends when the Aiel oddly retreat. Lan is relieved of his duties as commander of his unit and has plans to return north but his plans are upset with he learns that his carneira, some old lady he banged back in the day, wants to raise support and crown him as king of Malkier. So he travels to Chochin to face her. Really, Lan’s story didn’t do much except to give us a smidgen of the Aiel War and to remind us who Lan is, the last of the Malkier kings, and how he is, grave, loyal, honorable.
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!
In this story, we are introduced to Arren, prince of Enlad, an island in the north of the Earthsea archipelago. Something is causing wizards, sorcerers, and others with magical propensities to lose their abilities. Arren is sent to Roke, the island where wizards are trained, to find out why. Ged Sparrowhawk, who is now Archmage on Roke, decides to go on a quest to solve this problem with Arren in tow. They visit various islands in the South and West Reaches of Earthsea where they try to figure out what is stealing the magic in Earthsea. Finally, with the aid of a dragon, Ged gets an idea of what the cause might be and travels to The Dragon’s Run and Selidor islands to find out. On Selidor, Ged and Arren travel to the land of the dead to resolve the loss of magic. The adventure is a success, Ged returns magicless and retires to his homeland, Gont, and Arren is crowned king of Earthsea.
This is the third book in the Earthsea series and I didn’t like it much. The first book was great, filled with Ged’s adventures as he runs from and then chases his shadow. The second book was not exciting but wasn’t a bore either because Tenar escapes and frees herself. This book too wasn’t a bore but it’s adventure was subdued. For most of the book, the reader is either in Arren’s thoughts or kicking it from a distance with the narrator, simply analyzing the actions of characters and their thought processes.
I’ve just finished reading Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World and I am blown away. I loved every minute of it and I can’t wait to read the next book in the series!
I did not expect to like it as much as I did. My friend recommended it to me knowing that I enjoy reading fantasy novels. Since he has good taste in things, I decided to trust his judgment to try it but I was skeptical since many people likened it to the Lord of the Rings and though great, the Lord of the Rings can be a bore at times with the exception of The Hobbit. But I wanted to try something new so off I went to buy Jordan’s book.
I love Jordan’s style. It reminds me of Robin McKinley in how he takes his time to build his world, which he does by introducing us to the people who live in it. The first chapter sets the tone for the rest of the story and also gives us a glimpse of the situation that the characters will find themselves in throughout the story.
The story begins with Rand, a teenaged farm boy, battling strong winds with his father to get to the village to deliver brandy for the Bel Tine Festival. They walk guarded, on the lookout for wolves, so they are constantly looking over their shoulder. This tone continues throughout the story since Rand and his companions are always fighting dark creatures or on the lookout for them. They travel through the entire novel looking over their shoulder.