Review of “The Shadow Rising” by Robert Jordan

Title: The Shadow Rising
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time #4
Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 41 hours 13 minutes
Published: 2003, MacMillan Audio (originally published 1992)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The seals of Shayol Ghul are weak now, and the Dark One reaches out. The Shadow is rising to cover humankind.

In Tar Valon, Min sees portents of hideous doom. Will the White Tower itself be broken?

In the Two Rivers, the Whitecloaks ride in pursuit of a man with golden eyes, and in pursuit of the Dragon Reborn.

In Cantorin, among the Sea Folk, High Lady Suroth plans the return of the Seanchan armies to the mainland.

In the Stone of Tear, the Lord Dragon considers his next move. It will be something no one expects, not the Black Ajah, not Tairen nobles, not Aes Sedai, not Egwene or Elayne or Nynaeve.

Against the Shadow rising stands the Dragon Reborn…..

 

MY REVIEW

Forty hours of audiobook is a long listen. It took me a long while to get through it, because I had lots going on at work at the time. But in the end it was worth it! I had to do some research after finishing the listen though to be honest and I’m disappointed that I was not able to follow along as well as I can while listening to a book. Compared to the two previous books, this one did not feel like a journey, just waiting for something to happen. In The Shadow Rising, A LOT happened! I do remember thinking that in the very beginning and was already then impressed with the new speed of the story. A lot of focus on Perrin in this book and it was great “seeing” the old places and people from the first book again. But his story felt a bit dragged out. Battle after battle after battle on different fronts. In the beginning of this one, all the main characters are divided into groups and create their own storylines, some more interesting than others. I think Nyneave and Elayne’s was the best. And I also really enjoyed following Rand a bit more this time.

The worldbuilding, like the previous books as well obviously, is still incredible. And I think this is sometimes what makes it hard to focus while listening to it. But honestly, I don’t think I have the time to read these bricks page by page anyway. Priorities, I know. Something that also makes it hard to follow along sometimes are the many new characters that are introduced all the time. And especially when there’s only one chapter with them.

There are many different storylines to keep track of. But all in all, I’m getting more and more intrigued by the story and I can’t wait to find out what will happen next. It feels like the story has just begun. I mean, this was book 4 out of 14. It will get a strong 4 from me!

Review of “The Dragon Reborn” by Robert Jordan

Title: The Dragon Reborn
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time #3
Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 24 hours 51 minutes
Published: 2004, MacMillan Audio (originally published 1991)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Dragon Reborn—the leader long prophesied who will save the world, but in the saving destroy it; the savior who will run mad and kill all those dearest to him—is on the run from his destiny.

Able to touch the One Power, but unable to control it, and with no one to teach him how—for no man has done it in three thousand years—Rand al’Thor knows only that he must face the Dark One. But how?

Winter has stopped the war—almost—yet men are dying, calling out for the Dragon. But where is he?

Perrin Aybara is in pursuit with Moiraine Sedai, her Warder Lan, and Loial the Ogier. Bedeviled by dreams, Perrin is grappling with another deadly problem—how is he to escape the loss of his own humanity?

Egwene, Elayne and Nynaeve are approaching Tar Valon, where Mat will be healed—if he lives until they arrive. But who will tell the Amyrlin their news—that the Black Ajah, long thought only a hideous rumor, is all too real? They cannot know that in Tar Valon far worse awaits…

Ahead, for all of them, in the Heart of the Stone, lies the next great test of the Dragon reborn….

 

MY REVIEW

The third book in the Wheel of Time felt like an in-between-story while listening. But now, after finishing it and thinking back on everything the characters went through, it was full of action. What was funny though, was that the title felt off. The Dragon was lost and there was only a handful of chapters following him. Although, I guess it was all about him in the end anyway with everyone trying to find him.

I have to admit, that listening to all of these books back to back makes me unable to tell them apart. The stories flows into each other gracefully and after three books and 80 hours now, I definitely see the charm in the series. It’s the world building. It feels so real and even if it is a fantasy world full of magic and so on, it feels plausible. Many fantasy books are unrealistic in the sense that the hero is unaware of their power in the beginning but then masters it in a matter of minutes and becomes the most powerful ever. That’s fun and all, but this is another type of fantasy. Definitely a more adult type of fantasy. And I like the contrasts to what I usually read.

I enjoyed following Egwene, Nyneave, and Elaine in their pursuit of the black Ajah and it was great to see Mat from another perspective than half-dead (sorry for the small spoiler).

I’m mostly listening while I ride my bike or going somewhere and it feels like this world of Robert Jordan’s is where I spend my traveling time. It’s there in the background and I don’t really focus on it too much. I enjoy spending my time riding my bike to practice in this world, but I can’t really say it’s the best I’ve ever read, probably because of not actively reading. Maybe I will physically read it one day. The Dragon Reborn gets a solid 4 because of the immense and realistic world building.

Review of “The Great Hunt” by Robert Jordan

Title: The Great Hunt
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time #2
Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 26 hours 34 minutes
Published: 2003, MacMillan Audio (originally published 1990)
My Grade: 4 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

For centuries, gleemen have told the tales of The Great Hunt of the Horn. So many tales about each of th Hunters, and so many Hunters to tell of…Now the Horn itself is found: the Horn of Valere long thought only legend, the Horn which will raise the dead heroes of the ages. And it is stolen.

 

MY REVIEW

I’ve now seen the whole first season of the TV series which contains most of book 1 and some from book 2 and 3. I think I do understand why they mixed the TV series up a bit. Like with The Eye of the World, Robert Jordan really took his time to tell the vivid story that is Wheel of Time. 26 hours went by pretty fast this time when I had really gotten used to the narrators. But when I think about the story now, after finishing it, what happened really? Yes, the great hunt. But that’s it. It was a long journey. Exciting and things kept happening, but I can’t really say exactly what.

New people were introduced, and once again, I won’t give you the satisfaction of trying to spell the names that I now can pronounce, and it took me a while to understand what they were and what role they played in the story.

The ending was wow! And I can’t wait to pick up the next one, but I still kind of feel like this is still just the beginning. Which is amazing, big things have already happened, but what else is there still? I like the character development. They feel real and not everyone behaves strong and heroic like fantasy heroes usually does.

The Great Hunt receives a 4, it’s either because it actually steps up a notch, or it’s because I’m more familiar with the world, not sure. A great listen in whichever case.

Review of “The Eye of the World” by Robert Jordan

Title: The Eye of the World
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: Wheel of Time #1
Narrator: Michael Kramer and Kate Reading
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 29 hours 57 minutes
Published: 2006, MacMillan Audio (originally published 1990)
My Grade: 3,5 out of 5

GOODREADS’ DESCRIPTION

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

When The Two Rivers is attacked by Trollocs-a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts- five villagers flee that night into a world they barely imagined, with new dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.

 

MY REVIEW

The night before the Wheel of Time TV series premiered, I finished the first book in the 15 book long series by Robert Jordan. I honestly don’t know why I never picked it up. It’s been on my to-read-list (the unofficial one in my head, not on Goodreads) for ages but I guess I was afraid of picking it up because of the enormity of it. 15 books, each several hundred pages long. A kick in the butt from the TV industry is a good way to get me to start reading at least, haha!

Since I started listening to audiobooks a year and a half ago, I’ve mostly listened to science books and children’s books. The last one I listened to was Paolini’s sci-fi novel, which had such an amazing narrator who made it rather easy to follow the story. After Jennifer Hales interpretation of To Sleep in a Sea of Stars, I was spoiled and was not prepared for Michael Kramer reading an epic fantasy story, heavy with world building. At first I honestly didn’t think I would get through it. How much of the first few chapters did I really hear and understand? Fortunately, I got used to it, and the rest of the 30 hours total was not too bad. I almost feel bad for saying it about an award winning narrator, but his voice just didn’t seem inviting to me. I’ve come to realize that when listening to audiobooks, this bond with the narrator is very important. It can change the whole book. Or at least, I think it does. I don’t really feel like I have the time to compare reading and listening to books as long as these are, but one day that would be fascinating to do.

In any case, according to my grade system, I feel like this first installment reaches a steady 3,5. If that is because of the story or narrator or anything else, I’m honestly not sure. I do appreciate the immense world building, the magic system seems believable, even if I don’t quite understand it yet. There are several characters but not too many, but I have to admit that sometimes it was hard to know who was who. And also, all the names. They are great, but wow, they are so hard to relate to because they are so far away from our reality. And just hearing them (I won’t give you the satisfaction of spelling them, because I honestly wouldn’t even know where to begin guessing), and not seeing them in front of me was hard. It took me probably 25 hours of the 30 hours total, to know how to pronounce Nynaeve (yes, I did just Google it), even if I had heard it countless of times. The names are complicated and maybe that’s a small thing that drags the whole grade down a bit.

Another thing might be the pace? I can’t really say what I mean, but it feels a bit dragged out. Until the very end which is rushed. A solid 3.5 feels like the correct grade! If what I’ve heard is correct, then the series will be better and better. And I’m really excited to listen to the next!

 

A side note, I’ve of course already seen the first three episodes of the Amazon Prime show that came out on November 19th and I it is amazing so far! Several things are different from the book, of course. But since I didn’t really make out any details while listening, it didn’t bother me at all while watching. Maybe Michael Kramer gave me the story as a whole, and Rafe Judkins (producer) visualized it for me. I’m glad I did it in that order!