“The Shadow shall rise across the world, and darken every land, even to the smallest corner, and there shall be neither Light nor safety. And he who shall be born of the Dawn, born of the Maiden, according to Prophecy, he shall stretch forth his hands to catch the Shadow, and the world shall scream in the pain of salvation. All Glory be to the Creator, and to the Light, and to he who shall be born again. May the Light save us from him.”-Robert Jordan, the Shadow Rising
The Shadow Rising. Book four of the Wheel of Time. 393,823 words. 1,007 pages. By word count, the longest book in the bestselling fantasy series, the Wheel of Time. Considered among many fans to be the greatest volume in the Wheel of Time.
For such a hefty volume, you may be wondering: Is it worth the read?
Here’s why . . .
“You read too much and understand too little.”-Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising
Honestly, that quote hits a little too close for comfort after finishing The Shadow Rising. The worldbuilding, the expansion, the whole new culture of the Aiel. All these things are a part of what makes the Wheel of Time so good. But they are also hard to get your head around.
I can honestly say that even at the end of the series as I am, The Shadow Rising stands out. Or I should say, it rises above the rest. All the boys’ storylines were tremendous, but Perrin’s especially . . .
More on that later.
A lot of people dislike the start of The Shadow Rising, calling it ‘too slow’. What?! Okay, yeah, it’s a little slow, but that doesn’t make it bad.
The opening sequence kicks off as perhaps my favourite opening to a Wheel of Time book (that’s saying something, considering I’ve just finished A Memory of Light).
Literally the first chapter, Whirlpools in the Pattern, begins with a BANG. A bubble of evil, where Perrin’s axe turns against him, Mat’s card figures become real, and Rand’s reflections attack him.
Just that in itself would have been a cracking scene, but what made it even better was just before Rand’s bubble of evil, where Berelain turned up and tried to seduce him. Just after that dream he had, as well.
Wow. The whole scene was so tense, in different ways, and was written phenomenally well. I still can’t rid my mind of that final image of Rand sitting down, covered in blood and gore, Callandor strewn across his knees.
Such vivid imagery.
“Do not trouble trouble till trouble troubles you.”-Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising
By now, you all know how much I love my ter’angreal. I think I’ve mentioned it in each review. The Shadow Rising is a treasure trove, for angreal lovers such as myself. Mat and Rand going through the doorframe ter’angreal and visiting the world of the Aelfinn was so fascinating and world-opening. And a little creepy. Then them seeing Moiraine come out after them and her acting all defensive was such an hilarious moment.
I also loved it when Egwene and Elayne visit Rand, and Rand discovers how to sense a woman channelling. I don’t know what it is with Robert Jordan, but there’s a rather large number of ‘pinching bottoms with the One Power’ that goes on in his books. What then happened, though, when Rand started going out of control in a display of anger and power . . . that was insane.
Excuse the pun.
The Shadow Rising also finally cut the whole ‘Rand and Egwene’ romantic stuff, which felt right. Instead we got Elayne. I didn’t know what to make of that. It seemed right in The Eye of the World, but as we’ve got to know the Daughter-heir better, the less I care for her. It’s almost like she’s thinking, “Hey, he’s powerful, I’m powerful, he’s pretty, I’m pretty. We should marry”.
Yeah . . . I don’t think relationships are Jordan’s strongest points. Maybe I’ll come to like their relationship more in the future.
Talking about Rand’s lovers, anything with him and Lanfear is always amazing. She’s a strange one and I love it. You never know quite what she’s planning. Her and Rand’s dialogue and interactions are . . . aaahhh. Everytime those two are together on the page, it’s like water to my sponge.
Get it? I . . . soak it up.
Moving on . . .
Rand dealing with the nobles and politicians of Tear was a dynamic I thought was great. Basically, everytime someone had a complaint, Rand would just turn around and not-so-subtly nudge Callandor. That shut them up quick.
The final thing I want to mention that I really enjoyed about the start of the book (in the Stone of Tear), was the Trolloc invasion on the stone of Tear, where Rand wields Callandor and channels in a completely new way that even Moiraine is surprised and awed by.
However awesome that scene was, the emotional brick came after, when Rand tried to save the dead child.
Oof. That one hit hard.
‘“That mountain can grow awfully heavy sometimes,” he sighed, taking a spear and buckler from Rhuarc. “When do you find a chance to put it down awhile?”
“When you die,” Lan said simply.’-Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising
Another thing I loved about The Shadow Rising was the time in the Aiel Waste. The Aiel: their culture, traditions, ways. It’s all so different and so rich and original. One of the most hilarious things was Aviendha explaining the concept of first-sisters and sister-wifes to the girls.
There are so many incredible moments that I would love to talk about with Mat and Rand in the Waste, but I’ll try to just pick my favourites. I just have to mention though, that scene when Mat is pulling all his knives out and ends up impressing the Wise Ones, was so amusing.
Rhuidean. Such an intriguing place. It’s like one BIG ter’angreal. A relic of the Age of Legends. The whole time while Rand and Mat are in Rhuidean is one of my favourite portions of the book. Speaking of the Age of Legends, that section, man . . .
The history of the Aiel. What. A. Scene. Rand in the glass columns ter’angreal is a contender for favourite scene in the series, even. For some reason, I always remember it as being later on in the book then it actually is. It’s so beautifully written. Everything about it. I had to reread it to even comprehend what I just read because of the way it was structured and my incredulity of what I’d just witnessed.
The history of the Aiel and the Tuatha’an throughout the ages, backwards. The twists, the worldbuilding, the sheer EPICNESS of it all was mind-blowing.
And then Rand coming to and realising Mat was hanging from Avendesora. Okay, then. I kind of wish we’d been able to see what Mat had seen, though.
Other moments that I loved in the Waste include the introduction of the Peddler’s group, Egwene’s introduction into becoming a Wise One apprentice, everything with Moiraine and Lan, and getting to see more of Aviendha. Yeah, she definitely fancies Rand.
Better her than Elayne, though.
I also liked both of the Shadowspawn attacks (Imre Stand and Cold Rocks Hold), and Rand’s friendship and training under Lan and Rhuarc. Rand growing into fulfilling his role as Car’a’carn, and the Aiel’s gradual respect of him, was another theme within The Shadow Rising that was really satisfying to watch slowly unfold.
Cold Rocks Hold is one of my new favourite locations in the Wheel of Time. Seriously, that place is so unique. I’ve never read anything quite like it.
The final chunk of the Rand’s arc in the Aiel Waste was so EPIC. Him dencouncing Couladin as a false
Dragon Car’a’carn and announcing the history of the Aiel were suitably majestic. Mmhmm. Maybe majestic isn’t the right word. I’m just getting a little sick of saying ‘epic’ all the time.
Then Lanfear is revealed. I knew those Peddler’s were dodgy. Personally, I’d guessed Kadere and Kielle as potential Forsaken; the other’s simple Darkfriends. Rand vs Lanfear (if you could call it as ‘vs’) and then Rand skimming to catch Asmodean and wrestle for a hold on the male sa’angreal.
What a climax to such a momentous book.
“You have made a place in my heart where I thought there was no room for anything else. You have made flowers grow where I cultivated dust and stones. Remember this, on this journey you insist on making. If you die, I will not survive you long.”-Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising
Why is Lan so smooth?
However captivating Rand and Mat’s side of the story was, I have to say that Nyneave and Elayne’s arc was actually a little tough to get through, at times and was the main reason my rating was pulled down ever so slightly.
My opinion’s definitely changed since, but when I read The Shadow Rising, I didn’t really like either of them, so their whole ‘journey to Tanchico to hunt down the Black Ajah’ wasn’t something I was very interested in.
There were bright spots, but they were probably outweighed by the sloggy bits. Elayne getting drunk was certainly one of them, and the beginning of a friendship between Nynaeve and Birgitte another.
Talking of friendships, Nyaeve and Elayne was a combo which I hadn’t really expected (I’d always associated Egwene and Elayne together, with Nynaeve almost more of a stern parent rather than a companion) but their friendship was another which, although I didn’t care for much at the time, when I look back, was actually quite well done.
In fact, looking back, I’m starting to feel a measure of . . . fondness for their bickering. Although at the time it was infuriating. Elayne’s pride and stubbornness, and Nynaeve’s . . . well, we all know what Nynaeve’s like.
Those two rub together like a Tairen Lord and an Illianer merchant.
I also really enjoyed all of their interactions with Moghedian. Moghedian using Compulsion on the two was unexpected and quite frightening actually. Oh, and Nyneaeve’s tussle with Moggy (and the Black Ajah) in the Panarch’s palace was pretty sick.
One of the Forsaken verses one wilder-turned-Accepted with a temper to rival a sea storm. Who would win?
Nynaeve, obviously. Duh. Wool-headed fools.
Special mention: The Panarch’s palace is another to add to the list of favourite Wheel of Time buildings/locations. A room full of ancient relics and angreal from the Age of Legends and before?
Count me in.
Although, that male adam. That better not find its way onto Rand’s neck, or I might just start braid tugging myself.
While on the topic of the Aes Sedai stuff, Siuan getting Stilled and deposed by Elaida was something I did not expect. I thought it was brilliant, though. I already hated Elaida, but now? I love it. Such a stupidly awful person. Probably my favourite love-to-hate characters in the Wheel of Time.
Speaking of hateable characters, what was Gawyn thinking?! *Slaps face*. It was a relief that Min, Leane, Siuan, and Logain escaped. Logain especially.
They make quite the group, wouldn’t you say?
“The worst sin a general can commit, worse than blundering, worse than losing, worse than anything, is to desert the men who depend on him.”-Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising
The final character I want to mention is none other than Perrin Aybara. For many people, he is the star of the book. I agree. I might even have preferred his arc than Rand’s.
That’s saying something, believe me.
Perrin’s story was all about returning home to the Two Rivers and defending his home against the armies of the Shadowspawn and the Whitecloacks. It is probably the most satisfying and rewarding arcs I’ve read in the Wheel of Time so far.
Again, I could go on for ages about everything I loved from it, but I’ll try to stay focused.
Perrin vs Slayer (Lord Luc) is maybe my favourite conflict in the series. The guy is so fascinating. He can hop into and out of the World of Dreams. He pretends to be a Hunter of the Horn (although it seems like anyone can do that so long as you have some sort of weapon, an oversized ego, and a brain the size of a biteme). He appears to have two selves. He’s more than competent at combat both in the normal world and the World of Dreams. And he can enter the Tower of Ghenjei.
Who exactly is the guy?
Perrin learning of his family’s death was so tragic and his reaction even more so. It’s one of the first times I’ve really appreciated Faile. Speaking of that one, Perrin and Faile’s relationship growth was beautiful to watch pan out. All the little moments along the way, and their final marriage vows especially were really touching.
Lord Goldeneyes. It has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?
I loved Perrin growing into a leader during his time back in his homeland. His interactions with his people and their surprise but respect (is that because of him being ta’veren or because of his new experiences?) was just as captivating to read as Rand’s.
Also, he stole a Tinker. Poor guy.
His rallying and defence of his home against the Trollocs and the Whitecloaks was fantastic. And now he has Aes Sedai serving(?) him, plus a couple new banner’s being raised; Manetheren and the Wolfhead. Lord of the Two Rivers.
Watch out, Elayne.
“If you ask the lion to protect from from wolves, you have only chosen to end in one belly instead of another.”– Robert Jordan, The Shadow Rising
The book is aptly named. The Shadow certainly is rising, from the Chosen developments, to bubbles of evil, and just the Shadow and the Dark One growing in strength in general. The world has been massively expanded in ways that I’m all for, and our main cast from Emond’s Field are getting more and more fleshed out.
Not just the Emond Field lot, either. Moiraine, Lan, Elayne, Min, Faile, Aviendha, Siuan, Lanfear . . . oh, Lanfear. I could go on and on, and on, and on. And on.
Perrin’s storyline in the Two Rivers, Rand embracing his duty, Mat keeps getting better and more . . . Matty, and the girls growing stronger and more mature.
In some ways.
Light, that was good.
The Fires of Heaven, here I come!
Hungry for more gossip at The Fantasy Tavern?
Here’s a review from one of our regulars…