Today we begin a new feature on Tor.com. To announce the publication of the each upcoming Wheel of Time ebook, we’ve invited luminaries from the Wheel of Time community to write posts introducing their favorite books in the series, which we’ll publish to coordinate with the ebook launch.
Announcing the latest ebook in the collection—Dragon Reborn, which is available for purchase starting today—is Jennifer Liang.
When Tor.com asked me if I’d like to talk about my favorite Wheel of Time book, I had a bit of a dilemma. See, I actually like all of them about equally. Yes, even Crossroads of Twilight. Suck on it. That bit where Seaine reveals that Ajah shawls can be of any design, so long as they have the fringe and the Flame? Revelatory. And I’m not making this up. I think I’m mentally ill. If it had been an option, I would have picked The Eye of the World. Not just because it’s first, but because it’s the one I most often get to see through someone else’s eyes.
See, I teach middle school, which is the age was at when I started reading the series. Many of my students love fantasy and science fiction. But they are scared to tackle WoT. It is, after all, a super long series, and there are much shorter, easier reads out there. (They all seem to adore Mistborn, for example.) But it’s a very different experience guiding someone through his or first read of the series and seeing that excitement as they get caught up in the same awesome things that you did. There’s nothing cooler than some kid walking up to your desk and whispering slyly, “I figured it out. Rand is the Dragon Reborn!” at you.
Anyways, rambling asides aside, I have a hard time deciding which book is my favorite. So I decided to write about The Dragon Reborn. I have fond memories of reading this book in junior high. I did a last minute book report on it, right before class, because I forgot it was due and had to come up with something fast.
There’s some really awesome, iconic moments in this book. Egwene’s Accepted test. Rand taking Callandor. Perrin meeting Faile. But for me, this book stands out because this is The Book Where Egwene Sucks. Now, for many of you, Egwene always sucks. For reasons I’ve never fully understood, there’s many, many Egwene haters out there. (It’s a bad thing to be ambitious? Really?) But I’ve always had an affinity for her. I grok her. We’re very similar in many ways, we both are short brunettes who were teenage Amyrlins. We both want to be the best at everything we do. But I find Egwene to be super annoying in this book.
See, this is the first book where the balance of power has shifted between Egwene and Nynaeve. The first book, Egwene was Nynaeve’s apprentice. The second, Egwene was a novice and Nynaeve was an Accepted. But now? Both Accepted, both equals. And Egwene spends the whole book asserting that equality. It’s chock full of Nynaeve saying “Right” and Egwene saying “Left.” And poor Elayne gets stuck in between them. It’s aggravating to read someone who normally has better judgment saying and doing dumb things, just to prove you aren’t the boss of her. Luckily, she snaps out of it for the next book and goes to back being awesome. But it was rough there for awhile.
I also like this book because of the lack of Rand. Not because he annoyed me (yet), but I liked that the attention was on the other characters for a bit. Since I’m a fan of the expanded universe Jordan created for us, our first real glimpse of what’s out there and who’s in it is very appealing to me. You really start to get a sense of the real scope of the story, just by taking the focus off the main character dude for a bit. I think this is also when I started to find the B plots more compelling than the A plot.
So what stands out to you when you read this book?
Jennifer Liang is Director of Wheel of Time programing for Dragon*Con, Special Projects Manager for Dragonmount.com, and the Chair of JordanCon, the only Wheel of Time fan convention.