Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Readthrough of Time: The Dragon Reborn

The Readthrough of Time continues this week with The Dragon Reborn, the third volume in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. As with the previous books thus far, I won't be doing a traditional review, although it is worth noting that this is the first book I've encountered that mirrors a lot of the complaints that I've heard over the years about the series. We'll dive into that and more beyond the jump.

First and foremost, the most obvious thing for me is how relatively slowly this one started out. I had gotten used to Jordan hooking me in early, and it was quite some time before things really got rolling. A lot of this is due to Rand, our hero of the series, not being the central focus of the novel. Thus, this is definitely a sufferer of Middle Novel Syndrome, which may have been intentional given that the series, up to this point, was still believed to be six books long. The book works by the time it ends with Rand being essentially missing for 400 pages, but it's very difficult to stay invested at times given the main point of the series (and the book, which is named for Rand's role, really).

The book wasn't especially lacking in action on a whole - more time spent with the Aes Sedai is always a good thing for me, personally, and it was definitely a plus to see Mat get some solid screen time - I found the scenes where he's being released from the dagger's influence to be solid, and we did finally get to see him rock and roll a bit.

The problem with this one, I think, is just that there was a LOT of exposition to get to something pretty much everyone knew was coming. Rand has clearly been the Dragon since the first book, and you have to wonder whether this drawn out situation was necessary. Given how little I know about what's coming up, maybe that will be explained in more detail as we continue.

To be honest, this is the first time I was outright frustrated by the series. Granted, it's also the third book, which may mean some danger going forward, but I also hope tying up some of these loose ends early with Nynaeve/Egwene and Mat will allow a greater focus into the problem set up by the last few pages of this book. That the last 50 pages or so were so rock-solid gives me a lot of hope, but that hope is starting to be tempered somewhat.


And now for something different, Macmillan Audio was kind enough to offer us a sample of the audiobook for The Dragon Reborn. If you're looking to catch up/reacquaint yourself with The Wheel of Time, the audiobooks might be your route. You can hear a sample of The Dragon Reborn here, and, if you're interested, purchase the audiobook at your audiobook retailer of choice.

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