Struggling with his role as the newly proclaimed Dragon Reborn, Rand sets out alone to test the truth of the proclamation by attempting to fulfil the prophesies, with Perrin and Moiraine following in his wake. Meanwhile, the female protagonists return to Tar Valon to heal Mat, only to receive a new mission of their own. As they all converge on one place in space and time, the stakes rise. Will Rand live up to the prophesies – or will the Dark One triumph?
(Who am I kidding we all know what is going to happen)
What a great classic cover! It would be a shame if it... were to... spoil anything?
Listened to the audiobook with Michael Kramer and Kate Reading – no problem with the narrators.
If you’ve read my reviews of the first two instalments of The Wheel of Time, you will know by now that I am not massively impressed by Jordan’s epic. I was clinging to a sliver of hope that The Dragon Reborn would tie all loose ends together and wrap the trilogy up so satisfactorily that it would make the whole slog worth it.
I’m afraid it didn’t. Instead, when I finished The Dragon Reborn, I mostly felt relief: no more Wheel of Time for me in the foreseeable future. So why won’t I be reading on?
In an unfortunate continuation of a pattern started in The Great Hunt, the main characters split in four different groups right from the beginning of the book, meaning the story jumps back and forth between points of view. This, again, leaves too little time to properly develop any of them.
The peculiar choice to include almost no chapters from the titular character Rand’s point of view does exactly the opposite of what the story needed (that is, a deep dive into Rand’s motivations). Instead, the reader is left wondering why on earth Rand would slink off in the dead of night filled with senseless doubt that is never explored.
The end of the audiobook has a short interview with Robert Jordan, in which he indicates that he wanted to write a story in which the Chosen One does not simply accept his fate. I understand that that is an interesting twist. Jordan absolutely butchered his premise, however, by failing to include a reason why Rand does not want to be the Chosen One. In the previous instalments, he is afraid to go mad and hurt people; but this is a hesitation linked to the ‘side effects’ of his being the Chosen One and not to his being the Chosen One itself. The Dragon Reborn does exactly nothing to solve this. Instead, Rand just isn’t sure whether he is the Chosen One, picks a random line of prophesy, and sets out to fulfil it just to see whether he truly is. That isn’t at all the same as struggling to accept your fate (for a masterclass on how to write that, I recommend Dune).
I’m getting bogged down in details (like the inexplicable reason why the female protagonists, who were well on their way to saving themselves again, had to be rescued by a male character in the end again), but I think that shows that these irritations were what stuck with me most after reading the first trilogy in The Wheel of Time-series.
The Wheel of Time isn’t trash, it’s just functional and uninspired, outdated and uninteresting. Perhaps some people want deeply comfortable fantasy that fits the worldview of 20th century. I feel that even those people can probably find better candidates (the first thing that comes to mind is Raymond E. Feist’s Riftwar Cycle, but it’s been a while since I read those).
Either way, I think that, in a day and age in which the genre has so much to offer, the opportunity cost of reading The Wheel of Time over one of the great alternatives that are out there is just way too high. Sorry folks.