The Shadow Rising – Part 4

The last quarter of the book starts with a section involving Nynaeve and Elayne in Tanchico, and this section really irritated me.  They seemed so far out of character that you’d think they’re different people.  When they were in Tear they used different names and did everything they could to hide their identity.  Here they meet Egeanin (who we know is a Seanchan ship captain) and they immediately give their full names as well as revealing that Elayne is royalty.  Are they trying to get killed?  This is the first time in 4 books that I’ve really felt like they were acting out of character.  It’s also interesting to see how they react to meeting Moghedian, especially later in the book when Nynaeve is able to defeat her with the power.  The scale of the series is gradually getting larger and larger as the books go on, and one of the easiest measures of just how large it’s getting is a measure of how many of the forsaken show up in the books.  This book alone shows the characters directly dealing with 3 of them, and we still know that Sammael is in Illian, and Rahvin is out there somewhere as well.

This section of the book dealing with Perrin is another wonderful part of the series.  Showing the willingness he has to help defend the Two Rivers, and how he is able to take control once he sees that things need to be done.  It’s also a turning point in his growth arc.  He is more than ready to take command, but is still reluctant to do so, to the point where he still yells at everyone who calls him Lord Perrin.  He has always been one of my favorite characters in the series, and I don’t see that changing no matter how many times I read through the books.

I think I’ve commented on this before, but it bears mentioning again now.  One of the criticisms of these books is that Jordan seemed to force a lot of the romances that occur in the books, and at first glance it seems that Perrin and Faile are a perfect example of this.  But you have to remember that Jordan constantly allows weeks to pass between events that he’s written about in the books.  Those are weeks where the characters are spending a lot of time together, and a lot of the little things that might lead to a romance developing simply aren’t seen in that time.  Overall I think it works well throughout the books, and if nothing else he’s very consistent in the way he handles things.

All this brings us to Rand and the Aiel.  This part of the story is really the first time that Rand is proactive in everything that he does.  He realizes what he needs to do, and he starts to prepare for what is going to happen, rather than simply react to what the forsaken try to do to him.  It’s a big change in his character, and thinking about where he ends up in later books, it again marks a clear point where he changes.

While reading the ending of this book, I noticed something that reminded me a lot of the Belgariad.  The characters within the book are aware of the prophecies of the world, and are actively trying to fulfill them.  When you break it down to a strictly point by point measure of the events in the books, this series is very similar to the Belgariad, the main difference is something I’ve mentioned before, that Jordan was willing to be mean to his characters.  In the Belgariad things never seemed to get bad, in this series Jordan constantly terrorizes his characters and does everything he can to make you think they’re going to suffer, and then he does make them suffer.

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