The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass…
The Dragon Reborn is an excellent follow up to The Great Hunt. There’s a certain locomotion to the whole narrative that makes things feel pretty fast(though far from thriller pacing) for a 600 page epic. My spoiler free recommendedation is that if you liked volume 2 that this delievers more of the same with its own set of surprises and developments. It follows the pattern of volume two by setting up a nice avalanche of things to occur in the second half so that it reads much faster than the first half. If you like Mat then you’ll have even more to love because his chapters are some of my absolute favorite not just in this book but in all three books thus far. And if you like White Tower intrigue or want more answers concerning Perrin and the wolves then you absolutely can’t stop reading yet.
⚠️ Spoiler WARNING ⚠️
New book, New Hunt
So TDR is pretty interesting because Egwene and Nynavae are tasked by the Amyrlin to discover the secrets and identities of the Black Ajah. It’s a thrilling espionage plot made even more interesting by the budding rivalry between Egwene and Nynavae. Their trio is rounded out by Elayne who has to reconcile her meek nature, her desire for friendship, and her natural ability to lead and bring compromise. This trio is further complicated by Egwene’s new vitality grounded by her promise to never wear the chain of the Seanchan. Nynavae’s struggle to control her own power while reckoning with the rise of her former pupil Egwene is another strand that binds this team together as they threaten to come apart at the seams due to the external pressure. It’s very compelling drama. Their character dynamics are good enough that it would be interesting to see them just attend classes like normal for a while in this brutal war college branch of an all female Hogwart’s College. But they don’t get any normalcy in this volume. They have to find a deadly and deceitful group of women and question the loyalty of everyone they meet. It says something about these characters that the push and pull between the three of them feels authentic and meaningful.
Perrin and the 🐺 Dreams
I personally love Perrin and Faile’s romance in this novel. It’s weaved so effortlessly into the broader narrative of the external journey towards the Stone and his inward journey concerning the wolves and his place in the world that it just takes whatever investment you have in Perrin this far and demand you care even more. Faile falling for Perrin shows us the reader why we love Perrin through new eyes while also showing us a young boy who is trying to become a man or more accurately decide what kind of man he will become. I think seeing Perrin back at the forge is so important. It’s an eloquent reminder to us from Jordan that these characters are grounded by their home, their trade, and their family. For Perrin being a blacksmith isn’t just about the big moral divide between creation and destruction but the personal divide between himself and his past-the forge in the Two Rivers, his friends, before the Trollocs and Aes Sedai, Rand and Mat, both a year younger, without a care in the world.
The Dark One’s Own Luck
Matt being down for the count and/or not fully himself since Shadar Logoth is nigh unforgivable but Jordan makes up for lost time quite spectacularly. I think his first night out gambling when the gray men are trying to assassinate him is just an exquisitely hilarious and thrilling piece of writing. It makes me smile and shake my head just to think of it. I think Jordan’s ability to develop Mat in such a way where he both grows as a character yet remains completely and wholly himself is very satisfying. And now that I’ve codified it that way I’m very much reminded of The Red Queen’s War. I think Jalan and Mat are mischief makers after each other’s hearts.
Rand becomes the Dragon
Finally I think the other brilliant aspect of this volume is what we do and don’t see concerning Rand. Is he going mad? Is he driving towards his destiny or being driven by it? For a book bearing his newly claimed title, he’s not really in it much at all and yet- I think he’s in it the perfect amount. We begin to understand what it means for Rand to be both the Dragon and Taveren as we follow Perrin and others traveling in his wake. We feel his isolation because being the Dragon even isolates him from us, the reader. It could have felt artificial and forced but instead Rand’s mostly offscreen journey feels pithily realized because of the context offered by other characters, the context we have from The Great Hunt, and the short but poignant glimpses that we do get throughout this story.
Let the Dragon ride again…
All in all I haven’t lost steam yet. This volume propelled me on to The Shadow Rising. Now I only have this and one more volume before I am reading books in the series that I haven’t read before. So far TSR is a little more indulgent and lengthy but it also has the revelations and developments that make that extra time worthwhile. I’ll hopefully have more complete thoughts next week. Thanks for tuning in! 🙂