Enter the Fremen… Er… Aiel
With Callandor secure and Rand’s identity established, The Shadow Rising starts off with the group gathered in Tear. As usual, they will soon go in various directions following their own paths, but they will not all regroup by the end of this book. Here is where Robert Jordan begins his sprawling epic in earnest.
Rand, Mat, Moiraine and Egwene travel to the Wastes, home of the Aiel. They do so together, but for differing purposes. Theirs is the main thrust of the book, introducing a new land and a deeper look at its people, the Aiel. Mat and Moiraine are lesser parts of this story, though still important, while Egwene’s character receives a hard lesson in learning. Rand, being Rand, is the major player and will have his backstory filled in quite a bit by the end.
Perrin, Faile and Loial travel back to where the epic started, the Two Rivers, on rumors of impending destruction there. They again go through the corrupted Ways to get there speedily, only to find Whitecloaks and Trollocs already in the area. Their part in the book is smaller, but builds on the character of Perrin immensely and makes his part in the overall story larger and more complex as it grows.
Nynaeve and Elaine’s path takes them to a new area as well, Tanchico, hunting the Black Ajah. They encounter a bit more than originally planned, and while theirs is a necessary part of the book, it is also the smallest part and does the least in terms of the characters. The ending of their part of the book is enlightening, particularly from Nynaeve’s perspective, however, and very interesting.
Outside of the main groups, this book also splits off and begins another vital part of the overall story, the division of the White Tower. Mostly from the perspective of Min Farshaw, it describes the deposing and flight of the Amyrlin Seat, Suian Sanche with Min and the former Keeper, Leane. Composed of entirely ‘secondary’ characters, it is still an intriguing look at how manipulation and subversion are beneficial to the Shadow and creates future problems for the main characters.
As a whole, The Shadow Rising is well paced, interesting and full of details and nuances that will be major points later in the series. It begins the lengthier books in the series, topping 1,000 pages in softcover, but does so with little fluff and filler. Jordan continues to deliver a solid read that is self contained while still enhancing the epic as a whole.
Justin enjoys most games. He is currently learning the ins and outs of competitive modern Magic while enjoying all sorts of other gaming mediums, assuming he can find the spare time.