One thing that seems to be becoming more and more unpopular is reading. I was at a get together a while back. My wife and I were sitting at one table with my brother and his wife. The four of us are pretty avid readers (although I am not as much as I would like to be), and we overheard another table talking about how they hate reading. They laughed about how they would much rather just wait for the movie to come out, and if they don’t make a movie about a book, then the book probably wasn’t that great. The four of us just looked at each other with wide eyes. We all felt pretty strongly that the other table simply had it wrong.
I have thought a lot about that night, and that combined with the Kindle that my wife got me for Christmas (just the plain old, yet beautiful $70 Kindle. Not the Fire, not the Paperwhite, just the touch screen Kindle), I have made it a goal to read a lot more this year than I did last year. My goal is to read 50 books this year. You can follow my progress on Goodreads (which is like Facebook for people who can read), if you would like. I will also occasionally be posting reviews of the books I read here on the site throughout the year. Hopefully no one minds that.
The first book I am going to review on the blog is book four of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. The name of the book is The Shadow Rising. A lot of my friends on Goodreads and some other reviews I have read have said that this is their favorite volume in the series. I don’t know if I am willing to say that, yet, for a couple of reasons. First, I really enjoyed The Dragon Reborn and The Great Hunt at least as much as I enjoyed this one, so it would be hard to call it my favorite. Second, there are fourteen books in the series, and I just finished book four. I have a lot yet to read in the series, so I don’t know if I can crown a champ yet. All of that being said, I really enjoyed this book.
The story of this novel takes place after the events of The Dragon Reborn, where Rand al’Thor had taken the Stone of Tear and declared himself openly as the Dragon Reborn by retrieving Callandor from the Stone, and using it to channel and take control of the Stone, along with some help from the Aiel from the waste. If that sentence didn’t make any sense to you whatsoever, you may want to go back and read the first three novels before reading this post. You will definitely want to read them before reading this book.
The Shadow Rising follows the adventures of the core group of characters as they now deal with the fallout of Rand taking the Stone and declaring himself the Dragon. The Shadow is getting stronger (hence the title) and they are coming after Rand more aggressively than ever. Rand is channelling more, and I am beginning to wonder if he is starting to go mad. This is my first time through The Wheel of Time, so I really don’t know if he is going mad or not. We watch as his character tries to outsmart the Aes Sedai he is traveling with as well as the Forsaken and the Dark Lord himself. He is trying to move and do things that no one would expect him to do. This takes him and Mat and Egwene and Moraine to the Aiel Waste, where he will eventually reveal himself to be “He Who Comes With the Dawn.”
Perrin returns to the Two Rivers when he hears that the White Cloaks have gone there searching for him. He originally goes to turn himself in, but thanks to Faile and Loial, as well as Tam, he ends up uniting the Two rivers against the White Cloaks as well as the Trollocs who have been attacking the outlying farms. Perrin struggles with being a leader and having the people look up to him. He also has to face what has happened to his family.
Elayne and Nynaeve are sent to Tanchico to look for the sisters of the Black Ajah who are searching for something that will help them against Rand. The two women are hoping to find it before the dark Aes Sedai do, and retrieve it to protect Rand. They are accompanied by Thom, the Gleeman, and Juilin, the Thief Catcher. They must find a way to lie low and search the city, but they must avoid using their powers, or the other Aes Sedai will find them.
Obviously, there is a lot that happens in this book, since it is just over 1000 pages long, and in 1000 or so words, I don’t have the capacity to cover it all. So, what I have above is a very brief summary of what happened in the book. The real question is, how was it? Did I enjoy it? The thing to remember with these books, and most books that are considered “High Fantasy,” is that reading them is a marathon, not a sprint. There are always going to be long stretches where it feels like not a lot is happening. The beginning of this book is one of those stretches. Jordan establishes what life is like in the Stone for the main characters and spends a lot of time describing why each character will end up going on the journey they choose. It is all pretty necessary, of course, but it does start to feel a little slow.
Once the journey begins for each character, though, the pace really picks up. I felt like the first few hundred pages took me a couple of weeks to get through, but then the last 700 or so pages went really quick. I couldn’t put the book down. Once the journeys start, Jordan does a masterful job of switching between each of the main stories. I like this style and pace. It keeps it interesting. He switches to one story just as another is getting interesting, so it makes the reader want to get back to the first story, but by that point, the reader is hooked on the other story. It is really well done.
By the end of the story, I was really looking forward to the next volume in the series. This one was action packed and I love the richness and depth of Jordan’s world. I would definitely recommend reading this book for anyone who enjoys the Fantasy genre, after they have read the first three of course.
What did you think? Have you read The Wheel of Time books before? What did you think of them? What are some books you would like to see me read this year? I am definitely open to suggestions. One review down, 49 to go.