Feb 29 2012 2:00pm

Wheel of Time Musings: The Dragon Reborn

The Dragon Reborn by Robert JordanIt is a curious experience, to be writing about the third book while actively writing the final book. In book three, Rand comes to accept himself as the Dragon Reborn.

Now, you might think he’s already accepted his place. He found the banner in book one, and though he kicked and stomped in book two, it seemed that he truly accepted his title. And that might be true.

However, accepting a title and accepting what it means — what that title will force you to become — are different things entirely.

Book three is, in my opinion, among the darkest of the books — rivaling even later volumes where Rand is descending into madness. This is the novel where Rand accepts that he will have to become a killer, a leader, and a destroyer in order to save the world. That’s heavy stuff.

Robert Jordan, brilliantly, distances us from Rand a little in this book. This is where he begins to show us that the story is about more than Rand — indeed, he shows us that there will be times when we don’t want to see through Rand’s eyes. As painful as this volume is, I believe it shows a technical mastery that the previous two volumes don’t express.

Here is where Robert Jordan truly takes control of his story, in my opinion. It’s a wonderful novel, and I suggest that writers in particular watch how Robert Jordan direct our eyes and emotions carefully toward Rand’s return, as a sympathetic (and more experienced) character in book four.


Keep track of Brandon’s musings on the Wheel of Time in the Memory of Light index.

His thoughts on:

Brandon Sanderson is the author of Elantris, The Mistborn Trilogy, and, with Robert Jordan, the New York Times bestselling The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and the forthcoming A Memory of Light, the final volumes to the epic Wheel of Time.

Rob Munnelly
1. RobMRobM
This is the book that sold me on WoT. I loved the brilliance of having a book called "The Dragon Reborn" and then focusing 95-plus percent of the plot on everyone other than TDR himself. It confirmed that WoT is a multi-polar, messy. complex world rather than one that follows the foretold messiah saves the world trope, and that makes it special.

There is also so much fun in the book - Eg's Acceptance test, Mat's mysterious healing ("I am no Aes Sedai meat), the first serious introduction of T'A'R, Mat's kicking G and G's butts with the quarterstaff, the first widespread encounters with mysterious Aiel, encounters with additional Foresaken, the very funny introduction of Faile (who was very likeable this early in the story), etc.

Ranjan Asrani
2. Allchaos
I think this is the book where I sat up and said, "Wow, Mat Cauthon is one of the best characters ever."

Perrin is also excellent in this and Shadow Rising; I wish he had stayed this cool through the rest of the series.
3. glendroid
I really never thought agout it in this context with Rand. I can see that he has accepted it, and its kind of cool (since im rereading the series.. again...) to see the development of Rand in particualr from what he was, to what he became and now, who he is as TDR. I can honestly say that I loved Crazy Rand. But now that Rand and Lews Therin are now one I can't help but get chills about what the next book holds in stor for us.

As for Perrin I have to agree 100% about how he was one of my favorite characters until Faile. Thankfully he is becoming cool again. With him actually accpeting that he is the King of the Wolves... Sort of.
Robert H. Bedford
4. RobB
This is right in the middle of the POWER TRIO of the series for my reading time. With Rand gone, I think we see to a greater degree what a powerful character he is by those who surround him and simply know of him react to what he's becoming.

I also agree that Mat really comes into his own in TDR.

I mentioned this on my blog when I re-read TDR just about two years ago, but one thing I continued to discover is what a solid character Nynaeve is. Or at least what a solid character she was through these three books. At this point, her “Three Investigators” team with Elayne and Egwene is proving to be an industrious and, if sometimes stubborn, triumvirate.

Also of note, this might be the strongest cover of the entire series, with a great wrapround showing the demonic face on the spine.
Sean Arthur
5. wsean
Yeah, this is the book where Mat became my favorite character. Partly
because I love the bet-with-Gaebril plotline. Partly because of his personality, which we finally get to see. But mostly because of his pure awesomeness and general badassery.
Anthony Pero
6. anthonypero
It is interesting that RJ chose to not give us Rand's PoV very much in this book... and the interesting inversion of that in tGS.
7. Lsana
This one is tied for my favorite WOT book. There are better, more powerful scenes in later books, but this one has two things going for it that I don't think any other book had.

1. I found every storyline compelling. I wanted to be with Perrin searching for Rand, with the supergirls as they became Accepted and started their Black Ajah hunt, and with Mat as he fought to win his "bet" with Gaebril. There was never a point where I saw who a chapter was about and felt disappointed. That hasn't been true in any other WOT book.

2. This was the best plotted novel in the series. It had a solid beginning, interesting build-up, and a spectacular climax as all the plotlines convereged on Tear. The books after this weren't novels in the same way; they were chapters in a larger narrative. And while they were certainly good, but they lacked the satisfaction of building up to a confrontation, then seeing it in its full glory and going away with the story complete.
8. jcs97b
Oddly, this is the first book of the series I ever read back in 1994-ish. I had never read anything like it at the time. I found it at the library at my junior high school. I have no idea now if the paperback version just didn't say "book three" back then or I just loved the front cover graphic so much that I started reading it. Either way, I loved it. I found out there was more to the story and devoured those too.
WOT was the first thing I ever looked up when I first got internet access (yes, seriously) in 1996. I remember reading Leigh Butler's posts (among many many others) on rasfwr-j, lo these many years ago.

I met my best friend in college thanks to these books. I created my first webpage based on this series. I got my wife interested in fantasy literature thanks to WOT. Now we're going to name our soon-to-be-born son "Gareth Bryne".
It is amazing to think how much of my life has been affected by picking up TDR in a jr. high school library. Funny how things work that way.
9. FellKnight
The Mat sequence, from when the girls arrive back in the tower, to the girls being raised accepted, to the healing, and especially Mat's awesomeness vs Galad/Gawyn and his escape, is my favourite sequence in the entire series. This was when we first truly met Mat, and found out how awesome he is when he wasn't corrupted by the dagger.
Barry T
10. blindillusion
One of the coolest parts of the book? Seeing just how Mat's luck truly works. Imagine if he'd followed that lightening.
John Massey
11. subwoofer
Yes, Rand walks the earth like Caine and we get to see the various DR sightings culminating in the fall of the Stone. That was awesome stuff.

...That and Thom spazing over Mat's casualness in regards to fireworks and open flames:)

Anthony Pero
12. anthonypero
Everything from Rand leaving Moiraine all the way through Dumai's Well was simply the greatest 3000+ pages of storytelling ever.
James Hogan
14. Sonofthunder
When I was first introduced to WoT, my friend lent me a book at at a time. I remember when he handed me TDR, I just thought, "Oh yeahh." The epic cover. The title. I knew I was in for one great book. And it didn't let me down. From the beginning of the book(Wait, what are we doing in Perrin's head??) to the end(all roads end in Tear), just a joy to read. So many great moments. I remember reading part of this book in a tree stand in northern Florida...engrossed in the growing madness of Rand al'Thor while surrounded by the beautiful wilds of the Florida wilderness...will never forget that.

Right now, most of my books are in storage in Texas, but I have three WoT books with me. This one, TSR and ToM.

Great, great book.
15. A.W. Goold
While re-reading the series I have learned how much Matt was a whiner throughout the first book. I have also come to realize that these books are by far better than that of any other epic fantasy novels.
Rob Munnelly
16. RobMRobM
@15 - Mat was pretty awful through the first two books. What a great surprise when he turned into my favorite character from then on.
john mullen
17. johntheirishmongol
My reading on the books was a bit odd. I started to read TEoTW when it first came out and I thought it was decent but I didn't want to wait for more books, so I put it away for a long time. I didn't get back into it until LOC.

I have to agree that this was where Mat turned it around and he is definately the most fun character, and the most fun to read about. But I am still more of a Rand fan, because he is the linchpin of the series and he has had to deal with that life and expectation, even though he didn't grow up with it.
18. BenDavidZ
One of my favorite scenes in the entire series is where Perrin finds the blacksmith shop in Tear. There's just something so perfect about that scene--a moment of tranquility before everything changes forever for Perrin, his friends, and the world.
19. Manshima Alantin
The scene at the blacksmith with Perrin is also one of my favorites. It takes much more of a person to create than to simply destroy. I think this is where I adopted Perrin as my favorite character...that and everything RJ wrote about him and wolves.
20. davezdude
@15 &16: having just re-read the entire series, Mat was a whiner but that gives power and dimension to his later character growth -- from self-centered trickster always looking for fun to the "lion" Tuon sees in him in KoD.
21. Wotman
I agree that Mat is my favorite guy, and I love him. I like perrin . . . but he just is lacking something i can pin point. I enjoy Rand . . when he is Two Rivers Rand, but not liking him when he is Lord of the Morning Rand. I think one of my frustrations is later in the series, the reader is not given much insight into what Rand is thinking or planning. we are just like his friends and allies in always wondering what he intends to do.
DA Ford
22. Ford75
This was the first Wheel of Time book I read - the one that hooked me on the series those many many years ago!
23. Geckomayhem
Brandon just loves book four and can't help but aim us towards it, albeit somewhat surreptitiously. ;)

I was glad when Rand was finally free of "Lews Therin". He really was a dark character -- who only got darker -- through all those books. Robert Jordan did a brilliant job of painting that picture, but it didn't shy us away at all. Because as Brandon said, it became so much more than just Rand, and it really was relieving at times to see things through the others' eyes.
April Moore
24. aprildmoore
I definitely agree with Brandon and with some of the other posters that tDR was the book that really sold the series to you. Seeing how Rand's passage unknowingly affects so many was a very powerful way to understand what being the Dragon Reborn really meant to the world. Love this book.

And also Mat is awesome. A friend started reading the series recently and I kept talking about how awesome Mat is. She didn't get it; I had forgotten that he really wasn't very awesome until he leaves the White Tower and spends that fateful night in Tar Valon. Great stuff!
25. Fantam
Having just read tDR, I fully realise that I must be nearly as lucky as Mat was after Tar Valon to be reading this series for the first time !

I agree that Mat truly came alive with his fighting and gambling spirit, and it was also good to see the development of the other main characters.

Up to now, I had also enjoyed Selene, so I guess that I would need more than even Mat's luck to hope that she does not become too awful, now that I have discovered who she really is !

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment