Years ago I heard that Jordan initially planned this 14-volume series as a trilogy. Rereading it, I think that perhaps, at the end of the first book, he might have had a chance at that. It would have involved him taking the easy and simpler road, but it would have been possible. By the end of book 2, I could have even seen a 4 or 5-volume series. By the end of this book, though, I began to see the much greater scope. Dozens of nations, hundreds of plots, hundreds of characters, and at the center of it all The Dragon Reborn — Rand. But he’s fighting a war he can’t win single-handedly. And right now, he still has grave misgivings about who and what he is. Maybe he is The Dragon, maybe he isn’t, but he has heard of a prophecy that may clear it up.
Little of this book was told from Rand’s point of view. In my first reading of this series, I think that disappointed me, but in this reread, I felt differently. The truth is, I got a whole book full of Rand’s doubts in The Great Hunt, and I didn’t need to stay close to him to imagine he still felt much the same way.
We spent a lot of time with Perrin and Mat, two of Rand’s friends from the Two Rivers, and a Ta’veren in their own rights. Perrin can speak to wolves and walk through the land of dreams, two things that have him feeling less and less sure about who he is. He was a blacksmith, but now…there was a wonderful scene in this book in which Perrin goes to a blacksmith’s forge for a time and works alongside him. Showed his inner conflict very well. Mat, meanwhile, the gambler and trickster, thinks he wants nothing more than to serve his own selfish pleasures, yet his actions say otherwise.
Neither of these two are quite sure they can call themselves Rand’s friends any longer. I wanted them to want to be his friends. I wanted it so much the first time I read this that I pretty much let myself remember it that way. The truth is more realistic but hard. Oh, Perrin and Mat are his friends. But their grave doubts underscore what the rest of the world must be feeling.
Meanwhile, plots within plots continue to weave their way through this intricate series. This was among my favorite of the books. I called The Great Hunt the end of the beginning, but maybe this one is, or it’s a transition. It’s not quite the beginning of the middle. I think that’s coming soon.
Title: The Dragon Reborn
Author: Robert Jordan