This is NOT a review of the Wheel of Time books. I suppose you can call it a reaction blog... For it is a collection of my live reactions and thoughts to reading the Wheel of Times series for the first time.
The thoughts were originally shared on Twitter and have now been collected here for everyone's convenience. These are my full reactions from the fourth Wheel of Time book, with some post-read writerly thoughts at the very end.
To gain better understanding of what this is all about and see my reactions to the other books in the series, please refer to this blog.
This time, I divided my readings up into days. For reference, I tend to read 2-3 chapters a day. Let's get on with it.
I'm just about to start The Shadow Rising for the first time, which I know is a lot of people's favourite in the series. I'm really excited about it. But before I start, I think we should have a little talk about what to expect.
First I should make my own approach clear: A critique from me is good news, not bad. I basically come from the upside down. If I don't critique something, it's usually not a good sign.
I ONLY critique things I love/care for. So if I nit-pick, it's because I'm having a blast.
So, what do I expect from this book?
Well first off, it's 300 pages longer and there are 2 lines of text more on each page, so I think it's over 100 000 words longer than the last (many book are only 90 000 words total)... so.... I expect a hell of a journey.
I'm expecting (in no particular order):
For Mat to have a bigger part.
Lanfear needs to make a proper comeback.
I hope to face a new Foresaken and not Ba'alzamon again in the final climax.
Stakes are about to be higher (I'm worried for Loial's safety)
On that tone. Maybe Moiraine will die..?
Perrin will have to deal with the hawk Min saw.
He'll have to deal with the Whitecloaks too.
I'd like to understand Rand's origins better (through the Aiel perhaps?).
Our 3 lads need to reunite properly.
I'd also like to know more about what exactly the Dragon Reborn is destined to do.
Our Accepted girls need to become Aes Sedai
Black Ajah need to be dealt with (that isn't over, I haven't forgotten)
Ishamael. We need more on him.
Answers about Mat's luck.
We need to tear down the evil people in power in all the countries (maybe not all in this one book, but we need to start that at least).
Unravel the corruption in the White Tower.
Gawyn and Galad need to play a bigger part
We need an Elayne POV.
There better be a shadow rising!
I also have some things that I'd like, but I don't think I'll get in this book:
I'd like to go back to Two Rivers (it might still be too early for that... Around book 7/8 maybe?)
The Seanchan need to make a comeback, but again, I think I'm too early.
What's the deal with the names and past lives?
I'm still waiting for our girls to gather at Tremalking and Break the World with Rand (maybe that won't be just yet, but I swear, it's coming)
Someone we like has to be turned to the dark side.
Okay, I think that's it.
The Shadow Rising
Day 1 : prologue day
The prologue is a Min chapter??
The other times it was in the POV of someone whose POV we hadn’t seen yet. Interesting.
I’m turning a new leaf with Min in this book. Cause I love her abilities she just hasn’t been that cool lately, since half-way through book 2. In this book I hope she‘ll be cool again!
It’s not like Rand meant to pull you into this, Min. Surely he would run far away and escape it all if he could. And it could be worse than falling in love with a handsome man.
You could have been the victim of one of the many sudden ta’veren provoked weddings, or the ta'veren fires, or worse.
This name feels familiar.... is this someone we have met before, or heard about..?
Sorry, I still struggle with minor characters. Too many of them have names and similar names too. It’s not a great combo for me since I’m really weak with names to begin with.
Battle is coming to the White Tower? In this book?
Oh gosh. That’s not what I meant by tearing down the corrupt kingdoms. I didn’t mean the White Tower. I meant the evil Forsaken who seem to have taken over every court!
But oh gosh this promises both to be devastating and epic!
Captivity too? Like the Seanchan?
But seriously, now I’m expecting this book to end with an epic battle in and around the White Tower and lots of Aes Sedai being killed. Almost all of them.
Oh please save Verin, though! ...Maybe she’ll be buried in books and barely notice the battle?
SILVER COLLAR!?? Seanchan incoming!
Oh no... they’re such evil adversaries. They’re all scary and devoid of empathy. But maybe this time we will see that battle we didn’t get in TGH...?
Well we would need the Whitecloaks involved like last time for it to really compare and be a substitute.
No! Not Gawyn!!!
Well... at least he will just be wounded. I guess that’s alright. He seems like such a nice lad though. I keep asking to see more of him.
Is this the book where I get all my wishes...? Battle with the Seanchan? More Gawyn?
Well yes... isn’t what why he is learning to become a Warder...? Isn’t that part of his future job description and what the entire thought foundation the Warder ideology is founded on...?
Well I suppose it’s for their Aes Sedai but Elayne is studying to become one, so... same thing, really.
Oh so they weren’t kidding about that.
Both Gawyn and Galad genuinely like Egwene?
Good thing that she is considering becoming a Green Ajah then. Though I suppose Gawyn will follow duty and serve his sister, the sweet lad.
Okay, then let me come with an uneducated(?) guess:
I think it means that the Amyrlin Seat will be stilled....
Because Egwene at least has described the feeling of letting go of the One Power in a similar way.
This is a very good point. They have been doing this for so many centuries that getting them to realise that this one is for real won’t be easy.
There will always be Aes Sedai who won’t believe that he is the Dragon Reborn, or who won't care either way.
Ha!!! Hahaha! Oh... this is funny.
Yea our three Accepted really didn’t do a very good job at finding the Black Ajah in the Tower. They got a bit distracted by beautiful Selene’s clues to go to Tear.
Ahh... this is funny. They failed so Min was handed their task, eh?
This is a very good point. Besides, Min, I’ll be nice and tell you: he likely isn’t even in Tear any longer, and definitely won’t be by the time you could get there. You’d always be chasing behind him and not catch up.
So yes, it seems a better use of your time to stay here.
Ohhh!!! This really is the book where I get my wishes isn’t it!?
I wanted to get to see a Red Sister closer up and see what steered them that way. Oh this will be interesting.
Is she also a Black Ajah like that evil Book Burner Liandrin?
This seems like crucial information!
So... will Morgase die and Elayne will lead them to war to help Rand, or will Elayne sway her mother..?
From this Elaida seems like she acted rather selflessly. Like a proper Aes Sedai. Not a Black Ajah at all...
Aha!!! So she isn’t a Black Ajah, after all.
She is on the right side, she has just made different choices and isn’t in the know so she can only assume that bad things are happening (because they are) and end up acting like this.
Uhh... yes she is on a quest to destroy the Amyrlin Seat, and I can sort of see where she’s coming from with all of this. I can’t really fault her for wanting answers.
.....I just hope she find the actual truth and doesn’t act too quickly and destroy everything...
THAT WHITECLOAK! Again!
This reminds me... wasn’t in the prologue to the last book that we got a nice description of Whitecloaks hunting Perrin, which had no effect on the rest of the story..? Maybe I shouldn’t base too many of my expectations for the books on the prologues.
Oh no!!! They’re going to the Two Rivers and they’re close too!!
Oh boy. This is giving me “Orcs in the Shire” vibes.
Even if the Whitecloak thing didn’t pan out in the last book I do kinda like this slow escalation of other plots, building in the background.
I just hope they don’t hurt Perrin’s family or something. They’ll go straight to the smithy of course. I hope everyone stays safe.
This is not going to be fun for Perrin to learn about some day. He might not know about it for a while though. He’s so far away.
Wait! The Empress...? I remember only of one whole people who are ruled by an Empress...
Is this... the return of the SEANCHAN??
It really is. Oh boy oh boy. Much drama to come!
Oh oh! Egwene meet that one Aes Sedai who told her both her own name and that of the other captured Aes Sedai.
I assume this is one of them. Egwene was told to remember them, so Egwene would know their names.
Was she... yellow Ajah? Or White..? Why is my memory so bad..?
This was the longest prologue so far (39 pages). But goodness it’s good to be back with these characters and in this world again.
The scene has certainly been set. It’ll be fun to see how the story develops!
Day 2 : catching up with the ta’veren
Guys guys!! Sound the fanfare!!
Mat has now joined the club!!
In the first few books Rand and Perrin only thought of each other as good with girls but now Perrin actually considers Mat good with the girls.
And objectively I gotta agree that Mat is likely the best womaniser among the 3 of them...
Wasn’t standing up for himself exactly what Perrin did by asking for a room that suits his own tastes and makes him more comfortable...?
But yes. I bet Mat my lad demanded a lavish room with lots of gold
(to secretly pocket).
I think Perrin is right but it’s also possible that they have to go each their way and then find each other further along the way.
Eventually however the pattern will pull them back together again, that’s true. I think. No, I’m pretty sure.
Or a wolf trying to understand a bird...
Well no I get it. Faile is the predator in this relationship.
(No, autocorrect! It’s Faile not failed or failure...)
Also it’s almost sweet how much Perrin already loves Faile despite having know her for all of...? 2 weeks?
Okay that’s strange. The axe? On its own? Not a grey man?
What’s happening here?
I mean it’s indirectly the Dark One’s doing, obviously, but how..???
I’ve thought about this before but I gotta ask. What’s the deal with Perrin and his family? He only ever talks about mister and mistress Luhhan, but it also seems clear that they aren’t his parents.
And only Mat’s and Rand’s dad’s came to Tar Valon. Is Perrin an orphan?
This is such a Mat comment. He is such a cheeky lad and his POV is all the more awesome for it.
I am really enjoying the writing in Mat my lad's POV chapters. It feels especially fun to read.
Where does Mat my lad’s luck come from? Is it just like Perrin’s Wolfbrother thing and Rand’s channeling? Or is there a reason for it. Because it seems to come and go and not be there constantly.
...am I turning into Verin Sedai? I really want to study this phenomena.
Ahh I love that Mat is pursuing the Aiel women. I mean of course he is but still.
Even after this experience he just seems more intrigued about these women than before.
It's also nice to see that he is capable of making a joke at his own expense.
That’s Mat my lad right there! This is why he is a successful womaniser. Well, one of many reasons.
This whole section is a delight. Mat’s sections are a delight. Not only because of Mat but because interesting things happen around him. Interesting characters, conversations, etc.
Right... for the Lord Dragon, huh?
Yes... that’s totally believable. So loyal you are.
On a serious not: this is a compelling scene. The details and the characterisation of these minor characters and the conversation. Ahh... I love it.
I really hope Mat changes his mind about this whole attitude towards Rand that he has been putting up for a while. But I fear what it’ll take.
It’ll probably take what it took for Perrin. For his own ability (luck) to turn evil and scary.... so he can sympathise with Rand.
It’s very cool that this card game depict actual rulers. It got me imagining how our modern day card games would be different if real personalities were pictured and part of the popular games.
...and then I remembered that Cards Against Humanity exists.
We know how this plays out. This a power we, modern day people, do not deserve.
Uhm Mat!? I don’t think you’re just seeing things. These cards are much more terrifying now.
They’re the actual Cards Against Humanity!
And I also really don’t think this is Rand’s doing, Mat my lad, in case you’re going to follow Faile’s example and blame it on the Dragon Reborn.
Ohh Rand, so you do know that you don’t love Egwene. You’ve truly grown since we left you in book 2. I'm so proud!
So... who do you love now? Min who undressed in your dream? Or Elayne? Oh no, I know. Selene.
You left your friends and fled halfway across the map to please Selene. I remember.
Yes. Me too, actually.
Wait... was this the Hawk woman who came in weirdly at the end of the last book?
I thought she was Perrin’s hawk. What’s she doing here...?
It’s like Egwene learning to channel! Rand sees how he does things just as easily.
That’s kind of cool. It’s nice that he’s able to reverse engineer it so he will be better equipped next time and actually know what he’s doing.
Oh wow... she’s really into you Lord Rand al’Woolhead.
Time to make her leave.
She’s up to something. She’s almost as obvious about it as Selene.
Btw, where IS Selene? She said Rand would see her again if he got the sword. So where is she hiding..? Is she scared of Moiraine?
Oh no! Rand too! (See, lads? It’s most definitely NOT Rand’s doing!) Also the Robert Jordan has used the teacup thing a few times and it ALWAYS makes me think of the huge dog from the HC Anderson story. I loved that story so much as a kid.
What!?? How’d you figure that Rand?
When you don’t even know that Selene too is a Foresaken!!
It was definitely not all of them. Selene is more sly than this. Where is she?
(Yes I can’t believe it either, I’m actually hoping for Selene to show up. She’s fun, okay?)
Day 3 : learning about bubbles
I would have loved to see the Aiel make their entrance to the Stone. That would have been awesome.
I was kind of okay with it when the last book ended, but now I’m feeling sad we didn’t see it.Because these details promise that it would have been epic.
Hmm or maybe it’s something else.
Maybe they’re trying to overthrow the Dragon Reborn and you’re a liability. Or they know about Mat’s luck. Or weird things happen....
I don’t trust any of the High Lords, btw.
Oh right. Is that what Betelain was up to?
Was she trying to get inside information on Rand’s weaknesses for some High Lord..?
What are they up to?
Haha! Okay Falcon has her moments.
That was good comedic timing.
But also, I like how sharp Perrin is at times and yet how incredibly woolheaded he is other times.
So I WAS RIGHT!
She is in bed with the High Lords. Well.... I don’t know if she’s bedding them, I mean more like, she’s on their side and acting on their behalf.
But what do they want....? Other than the Stone obviously. And rule the world.
Uh uh! This feels like a serious faux-pas, Perrin.
You do not grab a spear-maiden by the upper arms!!
Well unless you’ve been invited to play the Maiden’s Kisses I suppose... not that Falcon would approve of that.
Go Perrin! Acting all quick and good to save his friend! Well done.
Meanwhile Rand is in his moody teenage emo stage.
What is going on with Rand? I feel like he has retreated more. But maybe that’s just cause we barely saw him in the last book. I guess I miss Rand.
Looking at this scene you still think Rand attacked you with your own axe...?
I tend to praise you for being the clever one Perrin, but in moments like this I wonder why I crowned Rand the lord Woolhead. When we have Lord Perrin al’Woolhead.
What is he on about? Why does he need to catch them by surprise? To escape...?
Rand has changed while we’ve been away with his friends. I feel like him and I are no longer on the same wavelength.
He can’t reach the void?? Oh no. This is bad news.
Well he is the Dragon Reborn so he can’t have burnt out right?
So he was cut off from it maybe...? Like the Seanchan did.
Or... or something bad happened.
I don’t like that. The thought of Rand not able to channel...
Hmmm okay. So we have had the sons of the High Lords gambling with Mat my lad talk about overtaking Illian and now we have this long talk about Sammael....
Is he the big bad villain in this book?
But I thought the Seanchan would be after that prologue.
That’s exactly what I said yesterday! Well.. not in so many words, but it’s what I meant. It didn’t feel like the Foresaken. So what was it..?
It doesn’t sound like the work the Dark One directly either. Or a Fade. Or Grey Men.
Black Ajah? They might be able to conjure this sort of thing. But why..?
Ah of course. Another book another threat. Somehow bubbles don’t feel as threatening..?
But we’ve seen three of them and they were pretty deadly.
Someone please ask Moiraine how long the bubbles last! Because they all sort of vanished. Not one of our lads defeated them.
Our ta’veren are always going to be in the middle of trouble.
That certainly makes Perrin’s and Mat’s individual dreams of being safe feel away from Rand seem impossible to achieve. Bad things WILL happen around them no matter what.
Stick together lads!
Oh damn. Rand is really standing up for himself!
We have a real moody emo Dragon Reborn on our hands.
And here we have Perrin being a Woolhead again. Oh Perrin....
Uhhh this promises to be good! I’d like to know more. What will he have to do?
Where is the Pattern taking him??
As long as they stick with the Aiel for a while (or forever) I’m happy. I like learning about the Aiel.
THOM!! Has now joined the party for real.
So good to have him back after he flanked out on is in book 2.
Him and Mat make a wealthy pair.
And he is playing the Game again??
He is getting roped into that again? I thought he said he wasn’t going to play the Game anymore, but he seems to take joy in this.
Almost as much as Mat takes joy in gambling.
Oh the "perceptive" title has passed from Perrin to Mat my lad. Good catch Mat, you’re not so dumb.
You remind me of Perrin in book 1 and 2. Ahh the days. I’m glad we have you Mat. Especially now that Perrin has decided to become a Woolhead and Rand is moody.
Oh Thom was doing it for Rand??
Oh that’s really sweet! I admit, I didn’t expect that.
Now I’m wondering if he had a hand in the half naked lady appearing in Rand’s quarters. If that was a result of his involvement in the Game or something he had foreseen.
No, Mat my lad. It sounds like your luck to me.
Trust me. Trust your luck.
Stay with your friends. You’re better off facing this together.
Okay I’m 100 pages in and I think we are almost done with the catching up and it’ll start to move fast. That’s my prediction.
Right now we’re still being reintroduced to characters. That’s fair. For many people there was a long time between these books. We need reminders.
Also: the chapters are definitely longer in this book. Normally I can read 2-4 chapters in a day but here I read one and my day is gone. This is my first day reading two chapters.... At least the chapters don’t FEEL that long they just ARE a bit long.
Day 4 : our Aes Sedai pretenders
Key word is: “appeared” She is Aiel. She is most definitely armed.
And you’d not even have time to gasp before she launches into action.
That’s how I see the Aiel.
Wait what?? What did I miss?
Wait... Is this what Egwene did in the last book when she was in the dreams and tying away their abilities..???
Cause I remembered wondering if she was stopping them but I feel like that was never confirmed. Until now I suppose. Help?
Oh yes, girls. You really need to talk this out and find some kind of balance before you start channeling against each other and something major goes wrong.
Please find a middle-ground.
Egwene has become really talented. She uses air a lot. And we know from the Seanchan that she has affinity with metal as well. She’s imaginative in her use of channeling too. I look forward to see how far her powers will develop.
Right.... yes. You’re definitely being genuine. Totally genuine. So believable......
.....Who does she think she’s fooling?? Certainly not me. And not our girls either!
(The real plot twist would be if this was actually genuine...)
It is actually a very smart plan!
Ingenious almost. The book burner might have read at least one book before burning them to come up with this ploy.
(Yes, the Black Ajah evil mastermind will never be anything other than a Book Burner to me)
Ha! Now even Moiraine joins in. Yes! This Lord al’Woolhead is mule headed. Maybe it should be Lord al’Mulehead.
It’s really refreshing seeing Moiraine lose it for a small moment.
She is always so composed and good at sarcasm without ever breaking the mask. I adore this.
Uhhh its a battle of wits!!
I can’t decide if it’s brave or stupid of the Wisdom to launch into this with Moiraine.
I bet you two Andorian marks in real Mat my lad style, that Moiraine is going to come with a subtle but harsh comeback to this and win the round.
Oh!! We have a “Mat/Rand/Perrin would know how to act around girls” situation but with the girls!!
And the difference is startlingly hilarious.
While the guys envy each other’s ability with girls, the girls envy each other’s bravery.
(well just Elayne for now)
Betraying your friend...? What, Elayne? What have you done...?
What has Moiraine told you...? She can’t lie so what could she probably have made you believe? Why would you think you are betraying Egwene...?
And there is that slap across the face. Ouch. Yes. Moiraine always wins these word battles.
She is so cool and subtle about it too that it’s kind of delightful.
Wait what? Since when did you realise this Egwene...? I mean good for you.
Especially since Rand has decided the same thing and both Gawyn and Galad are mooning over you.
But.... what happened here..? Cause when we left her in the last book she was still imagining marrying Rand.
Ohh so those rumours Mat heard were more than just rumours. They were Moiraine pushing her agenda. Now I see.
It’s a fair plan. Having an army will probably come in handy.... if he can trust them.
(This makes me wonder what happened to the Shinerian they left behind in TDR)
Ufff. I thought she was done, but oh no, Moiraine has more slaps to spare. Damn.
She’s right though. Both in what she’s saying and about the Wisdom.
This might actually be the root of my disagreements with the Wisdom
Yes exactly!! This was one of my many predictions for this book. We need to deal with the Foresaken who have found power in high command!
Starting with Sammael and Illian seems like a wise idea. Both for geographical reasons and practical reasons. They KNOW he is there. He NEEDS to die.
That’s very strong. But also... if I may..?
There is a threat that you do not know about Moiraine. The Seanchan!!
I don’t think you’ve included them in your calculations?
And where have you placed the Whitecloaks...?
MAT MY LAD!!! Your friend the Dragon Reborn... I mean, your friend RAND needs your help!!!
Please come and translate this document properly for him to help set him on his path.
Please Mat my lad. Please come around and help your old friend.
Phew! I’m so relieved that Moiraine said this. Because I could imagine the girls deciding to secretly go down and use it...
They might still do that but at least now they have been warned on what not to ask.
Also how does Moiraine know about this..? Is she a history buff?