Hello! Here we are again with another instalment of the Wheel of Time. I have steadily been falling in love with this series. The Eye of the World repaired some personal, unsatisfactory gaps left by Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The Great Hunt was a little slower to get started but began hinting at the true weave of such a mammoth narrative. Three novels in and am I bored yet? Absolutely not.
This novel marks the first real shift in Jordan’s writing. Things have felt a little formulaic but what I am learning is that characters in the Wheel of Time series all have their own turn to be your hero, or to be irritating, or somewhat stupid.
The Dragon Reborn has several main storylines, one of which is of course our hero Rand who was unavoidably annoying in the last novel. In this one however Rand abandons his friends in the forest after they are attacked at night. His story is pretty simple in this one, he travels on alone to Tear with the intention of liberating the sword from the prophesies, Callandor. Only the Dragon Reborn can touch and wield the sword so it isn’t clear whether Rand is testing his role or if he is accepting it. But it seems that the only way for him to reject entirely the idea that he is the Dragon Reborn is to be rejected by the sword of Callandor. I guess it’s a little bit like tossing a coin to accept the outcome.
Rand actually spends the majority of the novel backstage. He only really flits into say hi when someone has found him in the Dream World and I must say, it’s a bit of a relief to get some respite from him. The Dragon Reborn finally gives some of the other characters a bit more to do and a bit more of the stage for themselves.
Because Rand has ‘run away from home’, Perrin gets his chance to carve a good portion of the narrative out for himself. Perrin, Lan and Morraine are hot on Rand’s heels as they try to catch up with him. In the earlier books we learn that he can speak to wolves and he is finally given chance to find out a little more what that means to him and how, if at all, he is to accept and adjust to it.
The Dragon Reborn also gives us another layer to add to all the magic of the world, the Dream World is a focus point for several characters including Perrin, as dreams and wolves are somehow intertwined. Perrin seems to take on a lot of the emotional mantel of this novel, he longs for home and returning to his life as a Blacksmith’s apprentice, he longs to put down his axe full stop, and he is afraid he will loose his mind entirely to the wolves. He even takes up some of Rand’s role and discovers his own frictions with Morraine and even meets a pretty girl, Faile.
Mat is finally cured of the shadow curse that has tainted him for the last two novels! Finally he also has a bit more of the narrative to strut his stuff and give us a bit more of himself. Of course he would lead you to believe that he is a gambling, womaniser with no sense of responsibility but there are moments where his humanity and morals shine through, usually through his own charity. In this novel Mat also learns how to use his own superpower, Luck, in both gambling and escaping assassinations. He is charged by Elayne to deliver a letter to her mother the Queen, but while he does so discovers someone plots to kill Elayne and her traveling companions, Nyaevene and Egwene. So against his better judgement he also ends up heading to Tear to warn/protect them.
Nyaevene, Elayne and Egwene are also off having their own adventure. While being busy and learning to become Aes Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat charges them with a secret task to find any Black Ajah (i.e evil witches) left within Tar Valon. Egwene is also trying to learn how to navigate her own connection with the Dream World. Nyaevene seems to dominate the other two while they travel however, leaving Egwene’s pride feeling hurt. Ultimately these women can be a little annoying in their adolescent bickering but they pull through when it matters and become endearing once more. Of course, they find evidence that the Black Ajah are in Tear and end up going to investigate.
Weirdly, nearly everyone at some point meets an Aiel. In the Dragon Reborn we have a bit more to do with these mysterious people, beyond knowing they are fierce killers, and they end up very much part of a wonderful ending that fulfils another prophecy. There are other things going on as well, the Forsaken are popping up everywhere and the world seems less safe than it was in the previous two novels.
There is a lot going on in this novel and it is very much the action packed quest story of The Eye of the World, mixed with the brilliant ending of The Great Hunt. Finally we get to see more of a few of the other characters and a few new faces join the ride. Though there is a little bit of a hive mind that seems to converge all of the characters to one location with relative ease and some of the repetitive actions (Nyaevene’s braid pulling) and sometimes the thoughts of some characters can get a little annoying. Despite a couple of minor flaws this is still a solid fantasy novel that is pushing the series along beautifully.
I don’t think I can state it enough. This is a great series. But there is one character that I am looking forward to seeing more of though because he seemed to be very quiet in this novel, give me more of Loial!