I’m actually feeling a bit somber this week, as we reach the very last chapters of The Shadow Rising. Perhaps it’s because the book ends with such a satisfactory conclusion for (this stage of) Perrin’s journey, as does the task Nynaeve and Elayne were set on by the Amyrlin. Of course their journeys are far from over, and they will all face many new trials and dangers in the books to come, but there is still a certain amount of finality, of a bookmark on deeds well done, and a feeling that at least for a night or two, they can sleep the untroubled sleep of the righteous.
On the other hand, while Rand has also closed a chapter of his journey, for him it is more of a beginning than a conclusion, and it is marred by the destruction of Rhuidean and a shaking of the foundations of Aiel culture. Rand himself observes it more than once in Chapters 57 and 58, and we feel his grief at what he has had to do as well as what he knows he must do in the future. The Dragon is supposed to break the World again, but although Tarmon Gai’don has yet to pass, there has already been a Breaking in the Three-fold Land, as the title of Chapter 57 announces. And this is a somewhat melancholy note for a book to end on.