Rand worked his mouth, trying to get a little moisture. He stared at the column approaching Fal Dara as if it really were a snake, a deadly viper. The drums and trumpets sang, loud in his ears. The Amyrlin Seat, who ordered the Aes Sedai. She's come because of me. He could think of no other reason.
They knew things, had knowledge that could help him, he was sure. And he did not dare ask any of them. He was afraid they had come to gentle him. And afraid they haven't, too, he admitted reluctantly. Light, I don't know which scares me more.
"I didn't mean to channel the Power," he whispered. "It was an accident! Light, I don't want anything to do with it. I swear I'll never touch it again! I swear it!"
Author: Robert Jordan
Synopsis: Expecting either to lose his power at the hands of the Aes Sedai or to go insane and die of it, Rand al'Thor parts with his girlfriend, Egwene, an Aes-Sedai-in-training. He leaves Fal Dara with friends Mat and Perrin on a hunt for the mythical Horn of Valere and healing for Mat. But Rand cannot escape his destiny. No matter where he goes, no matter what he chooses to do or not to do, he either finds or causes trouble—or both.
Moiraine Sedai insists that he is the Dragon reborn; Ba'alzemon says the same in Rand's dreams. Rand refuses to become the one chosen to break the world, but the Wheel of Time drives him along the Dragon's path, and the Dragon's banner sits folded in his saddlebags.
Notes: I've been checking these books out from the library, but part of me wonders at what point I'm going to have to start buying them. And whether I'm going to wind up at a midnight release party for Memory of Light in 2012, dressed as Nynaeve al'Meara.
Did I mention that I love Nynaeve? You were right, Donna. I cannot wait to see who that girl becomes.
Robert Jordan has me thrilled over everything about epic fantasy right now—the carefully constructed universes, the battles and magic, the quests and heroism. I did not see this coming. I never would have pictured myself as a genre reader—no disrespect to any genre, but the things that make me love a book have never been genre-specific. I like a little bit of everything. Be that as it may, I think I've lost my heart to speculative fiction.*
The most fascinating bit of symbolism in this book for me, at least on first read, was the use of a simple form of the yin yang symbol as the White Flame of Tar Valon and the Dragon Fang, together as seals on the Dark One's prison. I'm no Taoist, but it's not as if Christianity has no contact with the idea of resolution of contraries. It certainly did in past centuries, when guys like Aquinas and Luther thought alchemy was great. Robert Jordan was apparently a High Church Anglican and a Freemason; I'm not sure where his philosophies will take this, but I'm interested to see how the wielders of saidar and saidin reunite.
I also think Rand al'Thor is wonderful—along with nearly all the girls in the tale, apparently. Rand is undeniably the hero, but I may lose my respect for him in the next few books. The way he held out against Selene's purring temptations was beautiful and heroic, as has been his tenderness over Egwene. But after Min's final statement to Egwene left me in a fury (Pattern or no Pattern, that is not something you say to a friend, Min Farshaw!), I went and read a bunch of online spoilers. Clearly, numerous things are not going to go the way I want them to.
On the other hand, spoilers are not the best way to find out how things go. Also, most of my anger at Min subsided after a couple of re-reads of the last few chapters, and—well, there's no way I'm not going on with the books. Even with the cliffhanger ending (I hate it when authors do that), I loved this book far too much to stop now.
My new goal is to get all of them read before the release of the final one. I think I can. I think I can. I think I can.... I brought home The Dragon Reborn from the library today.
For amusement purposes: I found a fantasy cast for a Wheel of Time movie, in which the actors chosen look strikingly like my own mental pictures of the characters. That is, of the characters I've known thus far—there are numerous names that I don't even recognize. (Warning: Not all of these celebrities are modestly dressed...)
Recommendation: Make yourself comfortable. Seven hundred pages, and you're not going to be able to put this book down.
* Speculative fiction, from Wikipedia: "Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more highly imaginative fiction genres, specifically science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history in literature as well as related static, motion, and virtual arts."