It occurs to me that every review after this one will be much harder. Because, see, The Dragon Reborn has a cohesive storyline that weaves its way apart and back together again, although arguably Perrin is barely involved in the climactic action, or for that matter any of the rest of the events, which mostly bring everyone together via traps and/or the whims of fate, and meanwhile Perrin is only being dragged along by Moiraine while causing ripples that will have future rather than current consequences. So I suppose I’ve just made a liar of myself, and the truth is that Jordan was already starting to drift away from everyone being a part of the same grand plan for a book’s arc.
But all the same, this is the last time that was even mostly true, and so it’s still noteworthy. Because Rand is… so, here’s a thing people talk about, why he seems so much crazier in this book as though the taint of saidin was ravaging him, then Jordan took stock and realized how much time was left and kind of backed off that plan for a while. Also, this may be a good time to mention that I’m still not caring about spoilers yet. Good? Good. So anyway, that’s a valid stance to take, authorial error. Whether it is such and I’m being apologist or not, I still think the text, especially the preceding events in the overall story, support another explanation. Which is, Rand is experiencing actual regular psychological trauma based on having just had a prophetic fight in the skies above Falme, taking a magical unhealable wound during said fight, being praised by everyone around him as the savior / destroyer of the world, and still not even being able to control the power he’s supposed to use to do whichever of those things turns out to be accurate. My point being, you don’t need magic evil to explain why he might have experienced a temporary break with reality that reset itself once all his doubts had been erased. Sure, he ended up with the crappy end of the bargain, but at least it was no longer just sitting there, unknown and unknowable. “Am I really really the Dragon? Fine, let’s get to work, then.”
I, uh, may have gotten ahead of myself there. So, anyway, you have Rand running off to fulfill the one part of the Prophecies of the Dragon he knows about, just so he can be once and for all sure instead of awaiting Moiraine’s pleasure. And you have Moiraine vexedly following, never so angry before or since at her own inability to to make it happen the way she wants to, and you have our three Aes Sedai in training headed off to spring a trap so it won’t get Rand instead, even though they know that’s probably why they know about it in the first place, and most of all you have Mat finally getting to be Mat, which is nice because I will like him for the whole rest of the series, except for the book he’s not in and the book where his voice is wrong, but it’s better than disliking him, which I have had to do now and again.
And this is me considering the reviews still pretty easy. Oy. The one bright side of reviewing books I’ve read lots of times and that furthermore almost everyone reading the review has read lots of times as well is that nobody has much in the way of expectations. Oh, also, Egwene? Totally binty. I wonder if this is objectively true or more a function of me liking Nynaeve so much better in my old age. I think it’s an objective truth that is undercut by her eventually growing into what she wrongly thought she already deserved in this book. Alright, I’m done. The next one may be a while in coming.