I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
The seals of Shayol Ghul are weak now, and the Dark One reaches out. The Shadow is rising to cover humankind. In Tar Valon, Min sees portents of hideous doom. Will the White Tower itself be broken? In the Two Rivers, the Whitecloaks ride in pursuit of a man with golden eyes, and in pursuit of the Dragon Reborn. In Cantorin, among the Sea Folk, High Lady Suroth plans the return of the Seanchan armies to the mainland. In the Stone of Tear, the Lord Dragon considers his next move. It will be something no one expects, not the Black Ajah, not Tairen nobles, not Aes Sedai, not Egwene or Elayne or Nynaeve.
Against the Shadow rising stands the Dragon Reborn.....
This is the 300th book that I’ve read for my Science Fiction & Fantasy Reading Project!
I can’t believe the number of different sources that Jordan drew on while he was writing The Wheel of Time. I mean, Tolkien is obvious. You’ve got the small town lad drawn into the problems of a larger world, sent on perilous adventures with his friends with uncertain outcome. You’ve also got a looming, dark, powerful enemy that no one truly expects him to be able to do anything about. Even things like pipeweed (Tolkien) and tabac (Jordan) being grown in the area that the hero is from (and it being considered superior quality too).
But this novel also reminded me of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The Aiel people remind me a lot of Herbert’s Fremen on Arrakis. They are desert dwellers, they are fierce & formidable fighters, they can blend with their environment, and even the women are dangerous. Just like Paul Atreides, Rand appears to represent a prophecy fulfilled, though some members of the Aiel struggle with this idea. Plus, there are the Aes Sedai, pulling strings in the background just like the Bene Gesserit. Rand, just like Paul, struggles to maintain his independence both from them and from prophecy.
Two things annoyed me during the course of the novel. The first is this whole “Women are mysterious creatures that men can’t possibly understand” thing that Jordan seems to have going. Along with the corresponding “Women easily manipulate men” corollary, which I also don’t buy. Men and women are perfectly capable of communication, asking questions when they don’t understand things. My gentleman friend is actually far too observant for me some days! He’s sees my motivations more clearly than I do and provides a needed perspective. My second annoyance was the whole “To make your female character independent, you show that she is stubborn” assumption. Jordan is so good at providing lots of significant female characters—I so wish that he didn’t subscribe to this erroneous idea. Being stubborn does not equal power or independence, in female or male characters and I see it in far too much fiction.
I can’t believe how many pages I have read and I am only through book 4 of 14. This is an incredibly detailed fantasy world, the author follows a tremendous number of characters, and I can see myself spending many more absorbing hours on the Wheel of Time.