Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Dragon Reborn Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: The Wheel of Time Book Three
Pages: 701

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(Spoilers for the previous two Wheel of Time books are below).

The Dragon Reborn is Robert Jordan’s third book in the Wheel of Time Series.  Unlike the previous book, The Great Hunt, The Dragon Reborn reduces its number of narrators and instead focuses on developing its group of characters more, rather than expanding on the world and cultures that are a part of the series.

Significant changes start to occur to the major characters, especially Rand and Egwene, after both characters were subjected to brutal or prophetic experiences.  The Dragon Reborn has all of the elements to make this work except for the fact that he recycles the plot from the Great Hunt into the Dragon Reborn.

This book had a lot of promise, and still turned out great, but it could have been better had the plot not been recycled.  Regardless it’s still and excellent installment in the series.

After re-securing the Horn of Valere, Rand and his Two River’s friends split up again.  Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne take Mat back to Tar Valon so that he can be healed, while they can continue studying to become Aes Sedai and to hunt the rest of the Black Ajah.

Rand continues to struggle with his madness.  He abruptly leaves his supporters to seek out Callandor, a powerful sword and Angreal.  The sword can only be picked up by the Dragon Reborn, and with it comes the power to destroy armies and cities.

Moiraine, Lan, Perrin, and Loial lead the rest of the men Rand left behind to the Heart of Stone, the strongest fortress in their world, a fortress that hasn’t been taken in over 3,000 years, and the fortress that holds Callandor.

Looking at the plot summary of The Dragon Reborn, its fairly easy to see the similarities this story has with The Great Hunt.  Rand and company start together, they then go their separate ways. Egwene and the ladies continue Aes Sedai training, Rand and company hunt down another powerful object.  The book builds towards having all of the characters converge at the same place in one large climactic battle.

Despite the plot similarities, the way the story is told is a lot different than the previous books.  For a book titled The Dragon Reborn you would expect Rand to be narrating a lot of the story, but instead, with the exception of a couple of a scattered paragraphs, he only narrates one chapter in the entire book.

With Rand out of the narrating picture, the story is carried almost exclusively by Egwene, Perrin, and Mat.  Each character’s narration can last over a hundred pages without a break.  Surprisingly this works real well for the story, and allows readers to get into each piece of the story more without interruption.  We also get more insight onto the three narrators, and as a result readers end up liking and empathizing with these characters more.

The lack of focus on Rand as a narrator allows the readers imagination to run wild with the idea that Rand is going crazy and losing his mind.  Occasional Rand paragraphs that do show up narrated by Rand only add to the insanity.  For the most part readers see what Rand has done through the eyes of Perrin, as he follow Rand’s trail. Jordan’s treatment of Rand’s potential for destruction and insanity in an ambiguous manner works better than the way he treated Rand’s insanity in the previous two books.

Egwene suffered greatly in The Great Hunt.  Having been enslaved and tortured by the Seanchan, her character development begins to undergo some significant changes in The Dragon Reborn.  Egwene is more paranoid, more prone to violence, and has become more stubborn and argumentative in this book.  Now that she’s back at the White Tower and knowing that their are Black Ajah certainly doesn’t help with her recuperation from these previous traumatic events either.

Mat Cauthon begins to take the narration reins midway through the novel. Despite seeming like a boring prankster character stereotype in the previous two books, his section of the story has a lot of mysterious things occurring in it.  I’m not sold on Mat as a character yet, but the events that he takes part in and the mysterious set of circumstances surrounding his character make his chapters very intriguing.

The Dragon Reborn had the potential to be a better book than it was, but it still is a really good sequel.  The change of narration focus in this novel is what really sets it apart from the previous two books in the series.  As far as the Wheel of Time is concerned, Jordan will need to come up with some new plot threads in order to keep readers entertained, as the recycled plot in this book is what unfortunately turns what should have been a great book only into a good book.

Score: 8.9

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