by Robert Jordan
Back to Wheel. As usual, I’ll keep this brief.
I actually settled back into the story pretty nicely, once I got over the initial phase of not knowing what the hell was supposed to be happening. I remembered the main plot of The Shadow Rising pretty well for the most part, namely the scenes with Rand and the Aiel in Rhuidean. (If there’s one storyline to try to keep good track of, I figure it should be Rand’s.) Since I’d kind of been getting bored of all the Aiel nonsense- I feel like Jordan can’t go two pages without making sure the reader knows how awesome the Aiel are compared to everyone else- I was ecstatic when Rand and the crew finally left the Waste. They then proceed to kick ass through like three different countries, which is all pretty cool. I’d be totally down just to follow Rand through his world as he breaks it, nation by nation.
The other plot lines were a bit trickier for me to pick up. I kind of remembered what had been going on with Perrin in the Two Rivers, fighting the Whitecloaks and all, and that was pretty cool, but Perrin’s not in Fires. Maybe Jordan figured that he couldn’t dedicate a third of the book to Perrin just hanging around rebuilding villages, and didn’t want to involve him with any of the other characters just yet. Whatever the reason, he’s not around, so I didn’t have to worry about remembering his whole thing with that chick, and other such specifics.
Trickiest for me to pick up again was what was going on with Nynaeve, Elayne, and their male escorts. I had only a very, very vague understanding of went down in Tanchico at the end of Shadow, and I couldn’t exactly remember the particulars of how it turned out. (An aside: Forsaken battles are always mad confusing.) I picked up the gist though, and it ended up being one of the coolest parts of the book. They join the circus for a while, and Nynaeve turns into a total badass by the end. It’s beginning to feel like the story of Wheel of Time is really just a bunch of kids becoming less annoying and whiny over the course of fourteen books.
There’s other stuff happening too, like the requisite Tar Valon subplot, which seems like it will turn into a really cool conflict in later books. And then there’s all the stupid dreamwalking. Dreamwalking is at the intersection of boring Aiel stuff, boring dream stuff, and boring Aes Sedai stuff. Meh. I could do without it.
Lastly, while I thought the book on the whole was really good, I’m beginning to tire of the men vs women theme in these books. I get the whole saidin/saidar thing, but what’s up with the blatant sexism all the characters espouse? I’m so sick of hearing that “Something or other is a thing that men do,” or “This is for women and women only.” At a certain point, I stop caring that it’s supposed to be repetitive, and I just get annoyed. But that’s a pretty minor thing.
So I keep chugging right along. These books aren’t getting shorter, but they may be getting more exciting.