The Shadow Rising, the fourth book in the Wheel of Time saga, continues the story of the kids from Emond’s Feild, of the Two Rivers. Rand’al Thor has raised Calandor in his hands and thereby announced to the world that he is the Dragon Reborn. The Tear has fallen to the Aiel and the Emond Feilders have been reunited. But their individual journeys since the first book have created a barrier between them. Perrin has fallen in love with Faile, a Hunter of the Horn and can communicate with the wolves. Mat Cauthon, cured of his attachment to a tainted dagger is missing chunks of his memory, but has the luck of the Dark One and the remembered battle skills of a general from the lost city of Manetheren. Egwene and Nynaeve are now Accepted amongst the Aes Sedai, and along with the Daughter Heir of Andor, Elayne, have been sent on a mission to hunt down members of the Black Ajah (dark jedi). And Rand . . . Rand is the Dragon Reborn, a man who can channel the One Power and has fought and defeated the Dark One in single combat and Lewis Therin Kinslayer reincarnated.
Trouble is brewing in the Two Rivers, with Whitecloaks hunting for Rand and Perrin. Perrin can not allow his family to be hurt because of him. He sets out with Faile, the Ogier and three Aiel, braving the Ways and Machin Shin to reach their destination quickly. Ahead he learns that the Two Rivers is crawling with Trollocs and Fades, and someone called the Slayer is stalking the dream world killing wolves. Perrin, unwittingly by merely being taveren (someone who can influence the weave of time)draws the Two Rivers into revolution and accidentally creates a legend for himself, Perrin Goldeneyes.
Egwene meets a Wise One in the dreamworld and is told to come to Rhuidean in the Waste Land to learn how to dream walk safely. Rand al’Thor and Mat Cauthon also decide that they must go to Rhuidean, for their own reasons. Moiriane and Lan follow too, along with all the rest of the Aiel, but not before Rand plunges Calandor back into the Stone, a reminder that the Tear is still his and that he will return for Calandor. Rand, Mat and Moiriane enter the mystical city of Rhuidean and learn what they must do to fulfil their destinies. For Rand must be recognised as the One Who Comes With the Dawn to gain the loyalty of the Aeil.
Elayne and Nynaeve head to Tanchico were they must hunt out the remaining members of the Black Ajah and retrieve an artefact that supposedly has the power to control Rand or any other man who can channel, before the Black Ajah do.
As if life wasn’t difficult enough, the Forsaken are loose in the World and disguised as regular people, in an attempt to control the taveren and the others who will shape the final battle between the Dragon and the Dark One.
This book, though it resonates a little with Frank Herbert’s Dune, again departs from the formula of the previous books, which no doubt is a big part of why the Wheel of Time series is counted amongst fantasy’s big classics. The individual stories of the characters continue to sustain interest despite the scary size of the books. The writing also seems to be getting stronger with each volume, which means I’m definitely going to keep reading this series.
The only bugbear I have is that, although I understand what Jordan is trying to do with his empowered women and thereby bringing female readers into the fold, I wish he had managed to pull it off without making the female characters so annoying. It’s like they have to act like cows for them to be empowered, bullying and manipulating the men around them, simply to reinforce their authority. Nynaeve seems to be the cookie cutter for all the other women, who incidentally all seem to be hot (the only non-hotties tend to be characters who are just in the background) which is unrealistic and a tad sexist in itself, i.e. you have to be hot to be a main character. Blame Hollywood. Everyone else does. Aside from that, this is an excellent read.