I’ve been told many times that this is the stopping point. People I trust and respect have said that they were satisfied with this book and felt no need to read any of the further entries in the series. Question is: will I agree and drop the series after this? Or will it lock me into place and drag me through the rest of the series?
All of the Emond’s Fielders have been divided, taken away to their own adventures. Perrin stuck with Rand, who had proclaimed himself the Dragon Reborn, and continues to struggle with his link with the wolves. When Rand suddenly disappears, he, Moiraine, Lan, and Loyal follow. Meanwhile, Mat is taken to Tar Valon by Egwene and Nynaeve, where he is healed from the corruption of the dagger. Once healed, he is eager to escape from the White Tower and be free, and his now insanely good luck may prove useful. At the same time, Egwene and Nynaeve are given a task by the Amrylin Seat: to hunt down the escaped members of the Black Ajah. Each character walks a different path, but they all lead to the same place: Tear, where the legendary sword Callandor awaits. For there, Rand shall draw the blade and prove himself the true Dragon Reborn.
Surprisingly, this book doesn’t focus very strongly on Rand. In fact, he only gets about five or six scenes in the entire book! That’s right! Our main character is suddenly taking a back seat to all the other Emond’s Fielders!
This, I feel, was an ingenious move on Robert Jordan’s part. If we got yet another book of Rand doubting himself and questioning his destiny, this book would be super annoying. Not to mention how difficult it would be to write a whole book from the perspective of a character who is going mad. It makes the few scenes where he does show up all the more impactful, as we see just how much he’s changing while on his own. Plus, it gives everyone else the time to shine they need!
Mat and Perrin get it the best. Mat goes from being one of the most annoying characters to one of the most likable and compelling; watching this gambler with insanely good luck throw himself into danger purely for the sake of others, all while convincing himself that he’s being selfish, is a ton of fun! He went from my least favorite to my favorite in this book! Perrin gets it pretty good, too; he starts to really develop his confidence and his abilities. He even gets a sassy love interest! Who is a perfectly fine, if somewhat forgettable, character.
Mat gets Tom though, so… I think we all know who wins.
Egwene and Nynaeve aren’t nearly as strong, though. While their plotline has some highlights, such as Egwene’s new dream abilities and Nynaeve’s developing talent with healing, it’s bogged down by some really stupid ‘drama’. Out of nowhere, Egwene becomes angry with Nynaeve for treating her like a child, even though they’re treating each other the exact same way as they did before. Not to mention how this stupid plot thread appears out of nowhere halfway through the damn book!
We also get to meet a few new antagonists! After two books of buildup, the Forsaken finally step into the limelight! Albeit briefly. Be’lal is… really pathetic, so much so that it’s kind of hilarious; the dude shows up, nearly kills Rand, then gets blasted to hell. All in the span of a few paragraphs. Yes. You read that right. Paragraphs. Luckily, the other Forsaken we meet (and the one we’re reintroduced to) are still suitably menacing, albeit a bit flat.
The magic system is also fleshed out more here. And by ‘fleshed out’, I mean added onto. Because now we’ve got a whole world of dreams! Granted, we’ve had that since the first book. But now we actually somewhat understand what the hell it is and how it works! Even if it is mostly used as a cheap way to give characters information. “I had a dream that this was happening, so I’ll be on the look out for this exact thing while also not understanding what the hell it is.”
So far, The Dragon Reborn is my favorite Wheel of Time book. It shook up the formula of the series in a really interesting and engaging way. It wasn’t entirely perfect, but it was still an excellent addition to the story.
Now, question is: will book four be worth it? Because the ending of book three was satisfying enough.
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