Ryan Lawler's Reviews > The Dragon Reborn

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
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Apr 08, 2012

really liked it
Read in February, 2012

In preparation for A Memory of Light coming out in early 2013, and to fill a notable gap in our review library, I have been rereading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. A lot of time has passed since I first read these books, my teenage self placing them on the highest pedestal, and rereading the first two books really shattered the illusion for me that the Wheel of Time was the benchmark in fantasy; they had not aged well. I began The Dragon Reborn with some trepidation but right from the start there are some significant improvements over its predecessors and by the end of the book I could see again what I loved so much about these books, my faith in Wheel of Time partially restored.

The Dragon has been reborn, so the people claim. He has the banner, he has one power, and he has the armies of Artur Hawkwing fighting at his side. Everything is falling into place but mentally Rand is not yet ready to take the mantle that has been thrust upon him, and so he runs with Perrin, Moiraine, Lan and Loial hot on his heels. Dying from the sickness of Shadar Logoth, Mat is rushed to Tar Valon by Egwene, Elaine and Nynaeve, only something sinister is happening at the White Tower as whispers of the Black Ajah prove to be more than just rumours.

This is the first time we really see Jordan doing what he does best, juggling multiple points of view as his characters start to travel along diverging plot paths. As the characters start branching out you start to really get an appreciation for the sheer magnitude of the story that Jordan wants to tell, and you get that lingering feeling that it may be a long time before some of these characters cross paths again. The story is not as self contained as The Great Hunt, and if you strip back a lot of the character and world building, not a lot actually happens in this book, but what this book does really well is position all the pieces where they need to be for the rest of the series, preparing them with small scenarios where their actions subtlely contribute to the overaching plot.

The big changes in this book that you can see right from the start is that each viewpoint character is starting to get their own clearly defined quest, rather than just playing the support role to Rand's quest. Despite the title of the book, we hardly get a chapter with Rand as the point of view character as Jordan starts to flesh out Mat, Perrin, Egwene and Nynaeve as main characters in their own right. I'm glad that we finally get the real Mat back in this book, his happy go lucky nature was sorely missed in The Great Hunt, and I like seeing how the memories of the past first started to manifest in Mat's psyche. Perrin does the most growing up in this book, and I'm glad to see him leave his whiny personality behind from the first two books to become a likeable, respectable, and formidable hero. Egwene and Elaine are starting to show that they are willing to leave their childish bickering behind, but Nynaeve is real disappointment in this book, reverting back to ignorant and annoying village girl after being the strongest character from the first two books.

All in all, The Dragon Reborn is an excellent addition to the series, and one that finally sees the scope of this adventure become truly epic. By distancing the reader from Rand during this book, Jordan made his initial descent into madness all the more apparent, and I think what Jordan does here makes Rand far more sympathetic when he truly descends into madness in the later books. Having the characters finally start to grow up makes this book a lot more enjoyable for me, and I start to see why I looked back on these books with such fondness.
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