Yarr! There be spoilers for the series ahead. Ye’ve been warned!
The Shadow Rising is considered by many fans to be the current pinnacle of Robert Jordan’s near-legendary Wheel of Time series. Despite being the longest volume, clocking in at 393,000 words, The Shadow Rising is a showcase of Jordan’s writing where his strengths are in full evidence and the weaknesses that bog down later volumes have yet to become overwhelming. It’s even less concise than the preceding volumes, and already Jordan’s tendencies towards rambling narrative and long-winded, repetitive internal dialogue and self-conflict continue to escalate in frequency and annoyance, but The Shadow Rising also contains many of the series’ most genuinely terrific moments that those flaws are if not unnoticed at least forgiven.
One interesting addition to the series are the ‘Bubbles of Evil’ that Jordan introduces early on in the novel with three of the most memorable scenes in the entire series (in particular, Mat’s fight against the figures from the playing cards has always been one of the most ‘otherly’ and interesting scenes I’ve come across in an Epic Fantasy). These acts of seeming randomness allow Jordan to keep Rand and co. on edge by constantly hovering the threat of violence over their heads. It’s one thing to know that Trollocs can pop out of any shadow (and, by this time in the series, the reader has more-or-less lost any sort of respect for the threat they pose, having seen Trollocs dispatched in absolute droves by the end of this novel), it’s entirely another level of anxiety to know that the sand littering the floor can erupt into a maelstrom of razor-sharp wind trying its damnedest to shred you to pulp.
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