The Shadow Rising, book four of The Wheel of Time series, is another long, tedious, lead-up to an eventual clash with members of The Forsaken — the minions of the Dark Lord, though at least this time, Rand doesn’t get all the fighting fun. Nynaeve helps out by capturing and almost stilling Moghedien. Interestingly, the Dark One makes no appearance in this book.
Perrin Aybara’s storyline gets serious attention and he becomes a hero in his own right, rallying the Two Rivers farm community to vanquish seemingly impossible Trolloc odds, with a little help from his new wife, Faile.
I enjoyed the interesting similarities between Aiel women going to Rhuidean to become a “wise woman” — entering three rings — which resembles the ceremony to become an Accepted in the order of the Aes Sedai. I sense that Aiel and Aes Sedai are linked in some way, deeper than the Aiel subservience to Aes Sedai the book depicts.
Perrin isn’t the only character that sees some growth in the novel. Bossy biddy Nynaeve manages to overcome prejudice in seeing a former enemy — Eaginin, a member of the channeling slavers, the Seanchan — become an ally, if not a friend.
The book is over twenty years old, but sometimes the predictability of the patriarchy gets tiresome: Rand is going to need to get over the fact that he may need to kill a woman (Lanfear) if he wants to remain the Dragon Reborn, for long.
Speaking of Lanfear, her appearance at the end of the book is ham-fisted and abrupt. She appears out of nowhere, without foreshadow of any kind. As a reader, it left me scratching my head. Jordan, you had 900 pages to clue us into the fact that she’d appear in the final battle.
Books one through four all feel overly long and all the novels’ pacing flags at times. They feel like a great warm-up to something more interesting just about to happen.
After reading The Shadow Rising questions remain: why did Moraine go into Rhuidean? Why do only women need to strip naked to enter Rhuidean while men entering Rhuidean get to wear their clothes? Will Nynaeve ever stop yanking on her braid and being a bossy toad?
Why am I reading on, despite the tedium? I guess I’m hooked. I want to know whether Elayne becomes Queen of Andor. I want to know precisely how powerful Egwene becomes as an Aes Sedai. I want to know if Nynaeve ever marries Lan and eventually becomes Amyrlin Seat. I want to know whether Perrin fathers a litter of wolf puppies with Faile. I want to know whether Rand vanquishes the Dark One.
July and August, 2014