Friday, October 5, 2012

The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan

The Shadow Rising is the fourth book of Robert Jordan's epic Wheel of Time series. I've seen some rate this as one of their favourites of the sequence. I can remember really liking the fifth book, but this one not so much. It's necessary and it has some great bits, but overall it's quite uneven.

Most of the Wheel of Time books seemed to go for about 1,000 pages, but whilst reading The Shadow Rising I kept wondering what Jordan's editor was doing, other than checking spelling and punctuation. There really is a huge amount of padding that could be easily cut without affecting the final outcome. At the end because it really doesn't go anywhere and cliffs are hung left right and centre you really wonder why this wasn't broken up and added onto the 3rd and 5th books.

Possibly some of my dissatisfaction could stem from the fact that Jordan seems to be interested in Rand's story with the Aiel, and I find that particular section fairly boring. Egwene and Moiraine liven it up a little, as does Mat, but most of the time it's yawn inducing for me.

Three of the other stories had far more potential and one of them, despite being the most exciting part of the book, was really given rather short shrift.

It could also be the females Jordan writes. I've heard it that he based most of his female characters on his wife; Harriet. If I were Harriet I don't know if I'd be flattered or horrified, I lean towards the latter. I'll just go through a few of them and how I see them.

I like Nynaeve, yes, she's a bad tempered shrew, and I personally wouldn't like her if I met her, but she's very honest about what she is and she's comfortable with it. The same cannot be said for some of her companions. Elayne is a bit of an airhead, the scene where Nynaeve sobers the Daughter Heir of Andor up in her usual no nonsense way is one of the book's highlights. Egwene is very controlling and manipulative, and I have no doubt she'd sell her own family down the river if it came down to a choice between them and her precious Aes Sedai. Then there's Aviendha, I didn't mind Aviendha in The Dragon Reborn, but I came to really loathe her in The Shadow Rising. She's homicidal and her behaviour doesn't even make sense. I kept hoping she'd get killed in one of the many fights the Aiel get themselves into during the book, but alas it was not to be.

The parts of the book that took place in the Two Rivers, Tanchico and the Tower were excellent. They could have cut Rand's entire section and got a far better book out of it. I'm reading on for what happens in those stories, not Rand. He could walk off a cliff into a bottomless pit and take Aviendha with him and immediately improve the story.

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