Hey I’m back, the posts for The Shadow Rising were all written during the course of reading the book, and thusly are similar to the rest of the posts I’ve done with the books for The Wheel of Time. I’ve just been busy and haven’t posted them, so I’m posting one today and scheduling the rest of the posts for this book to go up over the next week and a half.
I’m about 1/4 of the way through The Shadow Rising, and it’s time for me to take a quick break to talk about my thoughts in the book thus far. This is a great breaking point for the book, and in this breaking point I’m going to take a second to discuss the overall format of the novels to this point.
The first book in the series was told almost entirely from Rand’s viewpoint, to help us learn the world. The second book splits the party up to help teach more of the world, but then brings the characters back together again. The third book is similar to the second, but much different in that it has almost no viewpoints from Rand, but it does end with all of our primary characters back together. This book starts similarly to the others, with all of the characters back together, but changes viewpoints quickly so that we know we’re going to follow a lot of people, and then promptly (over the first 250 pages) tells us that they’re going to be sent all over the world once again.
By having the characters do all of this legwork throughout the first four books, Jordan really helps to slowly bring us along as he builds up the story (which is already starting to expand a lot by this point). He’s also doing this while having the characters go through their growth arcs, teaching us about a very different world (even more so with introducing the Aiel culture in this book), and setting up dozens of subplots – some of which will be resolved quickly, and some that will take 6 or 7 books to resolve. There is an awful lot going on in these first 3 1/4 books, and that’s what makes them so interesting to read despite being over 2,000 pages worth of text at this point.
There’s one other thing that I want to talk about while I’m discussing this part of the book, and it’s because there are several great examples of it in the first quarter of the book. Jordan does a great job of giving information to the reader while hiding it from the characters. The clearest example from the first chapter is when Suroth is talking about a secret that she and 3 other people know, namely that sul’dam can be trapped by the a’dam similar to damane. We know what’s going on, but to many other people in the world – including characters whose viewpoints we have – it’s a complete mystery. Similarly, Perrin and Mat are talking about the Whitecloak problem in The Two Rivers, and Mat has no idea why they would be searching after Perrin. Again, the reader knows that in the first book Perrin killed two Whitecloaks, but he hasn’t told anyone else, and neither has Egwene. Perrin also still gets questioning looks from people about his eyes, again, we know what’s going on, and perhaps Lan and Moiraine do as well, but none of the other characters do.