Review: As the fourth book in The Wheel of Time series opens right after Rand Al’Thor has drawn Calandor and taken the Stone of Tear along with Aiel. Each of the three ta’veren are attacked by animated inanimate objects…Rand, while Berelain, the First of Mayene, is coming on to him, Perrin while he and Faile are having a chat, and Mat, while he’s playing cards with some young nobles. All three survive their encounters without significant damage and without killing anyone else, but it does shake them up a bit.
News of Whitecloaks in Two Rivers looking for them makes Perrin decide he has to go back to help. He’s convinced that if he turns himself in, they’ll leave Emond’s Field and the rest of Two Rivers alone. He, Faile, Loial, and a few Aiel take The Ways back to a waygate near the Two Rivers. They find the villagers trapped between the Whitecloaks and trollocs…one group just more overt about the suffering and despicable acts they perpetrate on people wherever they go. Perrin turns out to be a natural leader, although he constantly doubts himself.
Elayne, Nynaeve, Egwene, and Moraine get the the captive Black sisters to admit that the Black Ajah has fled to Tanchico. Egwene is able to confirm this by dream walking. In that same visit to Tel’aran’rhoid, she also meets an Aiel Wise One who tells her to come to the waste and she will train her in dream walking. Elayne, Nynaeve, Thom, and Julian, the thief-catcher, head to Tanchico aboard a Sea Folk vessel where they befriend the Wavemistress and Windfinder of the vessel.
Mat and Rand, along with Moraine and Lan, Egwene, and Aviendha, as well as the rest of the Aiel who took the Stone, head to the Aiel waste beyond the Dragonwall via a portal stone. Once in the Aiel waste, Rand goes to Rhuidean, presumably because he read that he needs to in one or more of the many books on the prophecy he read while in Tear. Mat also goes because people in a ter’angreal told he must or he would die. In Rhuidean, Rand learns a lot of the history of the Aiel and Mat is almost killed, but returns with a fox head medallion and the broken head of a black spear carved with runes…and quite an extensive knowledge of the Old Tongue.
Rand shows his double golden dragons at Alcair Dal, declaring himself “He Who Comes With The Dawn”…the man prophesied to unite and to break the Aiel …which begins almost immediately after his declaration, followed by a confrontation with one of the Forsaken.
Bottom Line: While the pacing may have backed off a little and it may have the highest page count of this series, The Shadow Rising is full of important information and events, and isn’t too slow …even on a reread. To say it’s full of life changing events for many of the main characters would be an understatement. A bit of foreshadowing is also thrown in that can easily be missed as such without knowledge of the rest of the story. Very clever. It helps provide an “ah, ha” moment for those on a reread.