Monday, August 27, 2018

The Shadow Rising

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The late Robert Jordan dedicated this fourth main entry of his Wheel of Time saga to Robert Marks, a writer, teacher, scholar, philosopher, friend, and inspiration, following it with the fictitious prophetical writing that “inspired” the book’s title. Unlike its precursors, however, there is no prologue, the first chapter opening with the same windy motif that opened the main chapters of prior books, the action opening at the White Tower in Tar Valon, where Min goes, using her full first name Elmindreda to get the attention necessary to meet the Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche.

Meanwhile, Perrin Aybara is at the Stone in Tear, fearing that his friend Rand al’Thor, the Dragon Reborn, has lost interest in him, with Rand having sporadic episodes whilst channeling the saidin, the tainted half of the One Power, with the aid of the mysterious crystal sword Callandor. Perrin wants to summon the Aes Sedai Moiraine for want of healing Rand from his episodes of rage, with Moiraine Sedai actually encouraging the Dragon to channel the Power.

Thom Merrilin is also at the Stone, writing a message whilst pretending to be High Lord Carleon, with Mat visiting him and telling that he’s considering departing the citadel. In the meantime, Egwene is aboard a vessel awaiting Moiraine’s return, with the Accepted interrogating two rogue Aes Sedai of the Black Ajah, Amico and Joiya, who are being taken to the White Tower. Elayne and Egwene offer to help Rand with channeling, although his temper gets the better of him.

Trollocs ultimately invade the Stone, with the enemy fearing Callandor, the attack quelled. Several times throughout the novel, Egwene and her fellow Accepted Nynaeve visit the Heart of the Stone via the World of Dreams, Tel’aran’rhiod. Perrin, alongside a companion named Gaul and the Ogier Loial, also leave the Stone and travel the lands via Waygates. The Sea Folk play a minor role in the storyline, as well, having their own Jendai Prophecy of Coramoor.

Prophecy also suggests that Illian is fated to fall, with the Dragon himself leading the Aiel, from whom he is descended, through Tear and teleporting with them through a Portal Stone to the Aiel Waste. There, Rand has several visions of Aiel history, with competing factions among them. Another mystery briefly touched upon in the story is that of an individual named Slayer, whose identity is revealed late in the narrative. Dain Bornhald, in the meantime, leads the Whitecloaks, keeping prisoners deemed Darkfriends, while Rand is reluctant to follow prophecy to break the world again as Lews Therin before him had done.

A visit to Tanchico occurs as well, with a brilliant description of the city in the one chapter in which it is most prominent, and Perrin returns home to Emond’s Field, having a wolf-dream about the Whitecloaks and the destruction they leave in their wake. The action culminates in Aes Sedai infighting, Elayne and her friend Egeanin plotting infiltration of the Panarch’s Palace, and a brief conflict with the Forsaken Asmodean, accounting for a satisfying story. As with its predecessors, Jordan does take some inspiration from Star Wars, although those who enjoyed prior books will likely enjoy this one.

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