ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature
In The Dragon Reborn, Rand finally starts to discover his new talents. Unfortunately, we don't get to watch that happen. We only see a few glimpses of him learning to use his power. It makes me wonder if it was just easier for Jordan to show us the newly developed Rand rather than to explain how he got that way.
A couple of times here (and in later books) we're told that Rand doesn't really know how he wields the power -- he just does. In fact, this also happens with the girls from his village (Egwene and Nynaeve) who are learning to be Aes Sedai, and with their friend, princess Elayne. They supposedly are the most powerful women in years, but they don't really understand how they do it or how and why they are more powerful. If you appreciate a well-developed, creative, and well-explained magic system (e.g. Lois McMaster Bujold or Janny Wurts), you might find this disappointing.
But still, if you can ignore the unexplained magic, reminders of what has happened previously, and all of the braid tugging, sniffing, blushing, brooding, dress smoothing, and fishing metaphors, The Dragon Reborn is an entertaining adventure. It's one of the better books in the series because it actually manages to advance the plot and introduce some interesting new characters (for example, the Aiel). (Not Faile -- I can't stand her). My four stars here is somewhat generous and is based on my fondness for many of these characters. Someone who does not already like them will neither come to like them in this book, nor find any other value in reading it -- don't bother.
I listened to this on audiobook, and the readers, Michael Kramer and Kate Reading, are excellent -- they are some of the better audiobook readers around and Audio Renaissance always makes a good production. Read more Robert Jordan book reviews at Fantasy literature.