Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan

In a quest to refresh myself to the Wheel of Time series before reading the last three novels in the series, I checked out the audio version of the only book in The Wheel of Time series my library had (book two, The Great Hunt). After it was finished, I assumed I would skip ahead to book ten or eleven and read on from there.

And I did. I got over 100 pages into book ten, Crossroads of Twilight, then realized that I was disappointed by how much I missed. Rather than power through or read the summaries (short or long), I went back to my bookshelf and pulled out The Dragon Reborn for the first time since 1991.

I have carted this book along with the entire series published to date (in both hardback and paperback, because I'm obsessed that way) from my parents' house and through three subsequent moves, each time wrapping them with love, and unpackaging and shelving them with care. The books made a huge impression on my teenage self—as a writer and a reader—and it was as much that memory I was honoring as the books themselves. Every Christmas for eight years, I got a brand-new Jordan to add to my collection...and then I would hole myself away for my winter break, reading late into the night, losing myself in the novels.

Now, 20 years later (!!), I thought some of my appreciation of the book, and frankly, my idolization of Jordan, would have built up the grandeur of the series in my imagination. In fact, I've thought this for years, which was one of the reasons I didn't reread any of the novels along the way. And while I remember the series sagging in the middle, book three was everything I remembered: fast paced, descriptive, and hard to put down. Even better, some of the scenes that seemed to drag to my teenage mind were entertaining to my thirtysomething-year-old mind (I wish I could pinpoint which; I'm sure it would help me as a writer to know).

Despite the entire series being based around Rand al'Thor, I've never particularly cared for his character, especially not in these early novels. He's whiny, and when he's not whiny, he's egotistical, and when he's not egotistical, he's melodramatic, and when he's not melodramatic, he's a jerk, and when he's not a jerk, he's insane, and when he's not insane...well, you get the point. Which is why I was delighted that Rand's parts were kept to a minimum, and all the other characters I like so much more—Egwene, Elayne, Mat, Nynaeve, Perrin, Faile, Moraine—were the center of each chapter.

I'm highly motivated to jump right into The Shadow Rising, but past experience of having an author sour on me if I read too many by the same person in a row means I won't be following this impulse. I am definitely looking forward to reacquainting myself to the entire series now, though!


Amanda said...

Aha, your Wheel of Time project continues! Robert Jordan is killer at plot development, I think, which is why his books are SO readable even when little things bug you (like your Rand dislike). I know what you mean about how overindulging in an author can be too much, but I say go with it when you're having so much fun!

Rebecca Chastain said...


I might have been tempted to go against my own rules and read the next in the series if I hadn't had Kim Harrison's Pale Demon sitting on my shelf for the last 9 months, just waiting for me. It is beyond time to delve into that wonderful novel! (Plus, it's a copy I got signed, and it makes me happy every time I open it and look at her quote and signature.)