Reading: The Shadow Rising

Reading: The Shadow Rising

The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan

The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan

What is it?

Fantasy
The Wheel of Time Series #4

Who wrote it?

Robert Jordan

What did I like?

As I’ve come to expect, Jordan has woven an intricate and multi-layered story with many different perspective characters that flows smoothly and reads easily. I think he’s finally reached the place in this fourth book in the series where he has built his characters enough to pop in and out of their heads easily without confusing the reader. Each voice is distinct, and the more I learn about each character, the stronger I feel about them—sometimes more strong dislike and sometimes more intense love. This book brings many of the characters full circle and explains a lot of the background of one of the more mysterious cultures in the series, the Aiel.

As with the other books in this series, what I like best is the complexity, the vivid characters, the beauty of the setting and the cultural detail. Everything fits together and works together, like the individual elements of an orchestra all flowing smoothly to create a symphony on a large scale. But I don’t feel bored by the amount of information because it’s woven together so well.

Oh, and I should state that Perrin Aybara is officially one of my favorite characters of all time. I’m just going to put that out there.

What didn’t I like?

I don’t really dislike any part of this series so far. The only thing that really sort of annoys me is the juvenile perspective on relationships between the men and women. Now that some of the more adult characters are coming into the story, I’m hoping that some of the main characters will grow up. It’s one thing for the obnoxious character (Mat) to behave the way he does toward women, but it’s something completely different for the main heroic character (Rand) to see them as impossible and untrustworthy. Granted, the women he’s surrounded by are pretty much awful (IMHO). Poor Rand, even the girl he really likes is dreadfully double-minded. No wonder he can’t figure out what’s going on.

Jordan really only has two female characters in his whole cast who I actually like, Min and Nynaeve. And I’m terrified to name them because now they’ll probably die … but there it is. The rest of the female cast is manipulative, immature, and/or judgmental. Granted, Jordan has his reasons for crafting them that way, but I wish more of them would have more likeable qualities.

Should you read it?

Some people have said that this is the point in the series where Jordan realized he could make a lot of money and just started milking it for all it was worth. But I really think that depends on how you look at creating a fantasy world. If you have a universe living in your brain and you love to play there, why shouldn’t you write all about it? Why shouldn’t you dive into the multiple cultures and their strange ways and their history, especially if it all works together to tell the greater story in the end?

I love this series so far. Maybe when I reach book 10 or 11 I’ll get tired of it, but so far I’m intensely enjoying it. And if you’re a lover of epic high fantasy with colorful cultures and intense characters, this series is a must read.

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