The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Love this book. Mat is awesome. Perrin is great in this one, but later gets kind of lame. Same with Faile. Nynaeve is quite the firecracker.
The Rising Shadow is a crossroads in the Wheel of Time series. All the heroes of the story start in Tear, just after Rand's epic taking of the Stone of Tear and Callandor, but they don't stay there long. Having three Ta'vern in one place attracts a new horror into their midst, bubbles of evil. I've got to say, they are pretty scary and well done as a way to kick the main characters into action.
Rand plays a big part in this book. His growing fatalism and obsession with the Prophecies of the Dragon make him difficult to be around, and even his closest friends begin to suspect that the madness that inevitably destroys all men who can channel has already taken hold of him. Still, those who follow him, particularly the Aiel, take this in stride and hope that at least they might be spared the worst of it. Moiraine hopes to keep him alive long enough for him to survive the last battle. Matt hopes to keep him same long enough to get himself away from the epicenter of whatever Rand's insanity might spawn.
Nynaeve and Elayne continue in their efforts to track down the Black Ajah, this time traveling to Tanchico. I really enjoyed their storyline in this one. We spend a lot more time in Nynaeve's head, and I find her to be quite fascinating. She plays at being tough, and she is, but she's got some hurdles to jump. She's worth following as she grows. This is the first book where I'd use the word 'awesome' to describe Nynaeve.
Elayne's a bit flaky in this one, but I still enjoy her in this one. She's more of a supporting character, though. Her story isn't exactly central to any of the plots, though she plays a role in them along Nynaeve's side.
Perrin and Faile, along with Loial, go off to protect the Two Rivers from Fain and the Whitecloaks. Their relationship is quite entertaining and I love the way Faile keeps nudging Perrin into leadership roles against his will. The way all his old friends and even those older than him begin to take direction from him, along with how he rises to the occassion, is great. I love the reluctant hero, and Perrin makes a great one in this story. Of course, in later books, I get a little sick of him and Faile, but for now, they're great.
Matt really starts to get interesting in this book. He's a rogue, but a likeable one. His sole desire is to get away from Rand and all the madness that surrounds him. He doesn't seem to realize that he too has a huge target on his back. The Forsaken are just as interested in destroying Matt as they are Rand, but unlike with Rand, they have no reason to try to keep him alive or turn him to the shadow. I think Matt's better off near Rand and all the Aiel. Anyway, Matt's one of my favorite characters in this series. I never get tired of him or his antics.
Egwene is also just starting to become more interesting in her own right, but there's more to her in future books in the series. I recommend keeping a close eye on her when you read these stories. She's much more than just Rand's ex-love interest.
Overall, I enjoyed this book just as much as the first several times I've read it. I recommend The Wheel of Time series who love detailed world building, epic fantasy, really long reads, and a story that can keep you busy for over a year (if you read them all). As someone who reads very quickly, the length of the Wheel of Time books is a draw for me. However, if you like your stories to be quick and to the point, you may not be up for this series. It takes its time in everything.
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