First Wheel of Time Readthrough, Part 3

Real quick before I get started, I wanted to mention that Smashwords has begun their Summer/Winter 2016 Sale and have some big discounts on eBooks, which happens to include my own book, Lesser Evil, which you can currently pick up for only $1.  Just use the code SSW75 at checkout.

So it’s the 4th of July, Independence Day here in the US, and my plans to go out barbecuing with my family got spoiled by my sour stomach.  But it did give me a little time to finish reading the third Wheel of Time book, ‘The Dragon Reborn.’  Overall, I got to say, I enjoyed this book, especially when compared to the two that preceded it.  I will admit that reading the first two books felt like something of a chore at points, and the series felt like something of an obligation.  I’m not sure at what point during this book finding myself with time to read became less “Guess I should get this over with,” and more “Oh, good, I get to continue the book,” but by midway through the book I know I was enjoying.  Perhaps not at the level of certain other fantasy series where I get sucked in to them to the point where I am ignoring my other obligations and getting certain people very mad at me for reading when they are trying to talk to me, but if the series continues down this path it might just that.

I think part of what makes this book so enjoyable is that Jordan finally stops introducing so many new concepts and crazy magics/abilities and actually starts to refine and explain the ones he already has.  We get a great deal of clarification of the dream world, Tel’aran’rhiod (I don’t think I will ever get used to Jordan’s extreme-fantasy naming conventions, I have to look back to the books to remember how just about anything is spelled). As Egwene figures out how her magic works so does the reader.  We see an Illuminator, a bunch of Aiel, and a few Hunters for the Horn, and Jordan builds on each of these things without the longwindedness I came to expect of his explanations.  Even when he introduces new cultures (Tear and Illian) he manages a lot more conciseness.  I hope the pattern holds for the next few books.

Some thoughts:

I was kind of excited when Zarine/Faile joined the cast as she showed such great promise from the outset as a Hunter for the Horn with some remarkable perception and deduction skills.  Unfortunately, she doesn’t really get to do much in this book after she joins except serve as Perrin’s romantic foil.  Admittedly, she is in a situation where normal, non-magicky non-ta’veren people are considerably outclassed, but that hasn’t stopped other normals from proving their badassery from time to time. Well, at least her budding relationship with Perrin is actually decently written; you can actually feel their bond building, unlike the sudden infatuations of Lan/Nynaeve and the Everyone Loves Rand Fanclub.

Is Mat’s Luck a special ability, akin the Perrin’s Wolfbrother powers or Hurin’s Sniffer ability, or is it just a reflection of how strongly ta’veren he is, in the way that Rand becomes a walking monogamy-mobile whenever he passes through a village?

I’m glad Mat finally got his chance as a POV character.  His parts are certainly the most amusing.  He reminds me strongly of a D&D PC, always getting tossed in over his head and yet finding a way through with a mix of luck and cleverness.

For a book titled ‘The Dragon Reborn’ we don’t really see a lot of Rand.  I really can’t place whether I felt this was a good thing or a bad thing.  He pops back in as a POV character for the last part to do his third confrontation with Ba’alzamon, who turns out isn’t the Dark One after all but one of the Forsaken, presumably Ishmael.  While it makes sense for it to be Ishmael (since he’s a known a liar and pretending to be the Dark One seems up that alley) I would be surprised if such a powerful and important Forsaken was done for good.

It wasn’t until Nynaeve said “Watch your tongue,” or something that effect that I got that “Burn me!” is considered a profanity as opposed to a common exclamation.  It’s got to be one of the mildest profanities ever devised in fantasy, and also one sure to cause some awkward moments.  “Why are standing so far away from the stove?” “I was afraid the fire was going to burn me.” “Watch your language!”

Egwene gets captured, again.  I think one more time and she fills up her punch card.  This time the girls aren’t quite able to free themselves, but Egwene does effectively still two of the Black Ajah using Dream Powers, so that was pretty cool.

Lanfear is giving off some serious Starscream vibes (I’m sure there’s a better word for it buried in TV Trope’s database for evil subordinate with their own plans but I’ve always used Starscream as the basis for this type of character).  She was shit talking Ba’alzamon in the dream world (which is slightly less impressive once you know that he wasn’t the Dark One, but still kind of cool).  I’ve always been a fan of this trope so I look forward to seeing exactly what she is up to.

I’ll probably be cracking open the fourth book sometime today, but it is even thicker than the first three (close to 1,000 pages in my paperback) so…I don’t think I’ll have it done quite in time for next week’s post, and if not I will have something else to talk about.  Something cool.  Not sure what yet.

For those of you interested, ‘Die By The Sword’ is still coming along.  It is longer than I originally intended so it is taking me a bit.  I am hoping my first draft will be done by the end of the month so I can begin the painstaking editing process.  Fun.

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