The Dragon Reborn is book 3 of 14 in The Wheel of Time series. The Dragon Reborn is the last Wheel of Time book to wrap up most of its storylines in the same book and the last before the series became big E Epic, for good or ill. The story revolves around a prophecy that the Dragon Reborn will take The Sword That is Not a Sword (Callandor) from the Stone, a fortress the size of a small mountain that has never fallen (it has been present from the beginning, but the influence of Arthurian legend really becomes apparent in this book).
The effect of being ta’veren only becomes prominent and important in this book. It sometimes comes off as dues ex machina or some other kind of authorial shortcut. But it can result in some pretty cool stuff when it’s not vital to the story. More importantly, it represents a very serious attempt to reconcile the concepts of free will and destiny, which must co-exist with each other in Jordan’s world. It’s the kind of deep thinking I look for in speculative fiction. The same is true for Min’s viewings and other prophecies.
One of Jordan’s Big Ideas is that men and women are very different but their achievements are greatly limited unless they work together. The Supergirls (Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne), who play a bigger role in this book, just don’t get that (a sign of their immaturity). Which is why they get a counter to track the number of times they’re trapped.
The Dragon Reborn is again a chase. This time everyone is chasing after Rand. But Rand, after having the bulk of POV chapters in the first two books, takes a back seat and other characters step up, especially Mat and the aforementioned Supergirls. This has a few advantages. It allows Jordan to develop other characters. It puts the reader in the other characters’ shoes guessing at Rand’s mental state. And it demonstrates how going forward Rand is the center of a maelstrom that pulls everything and everyone else in the story.
Mat finally gets a POV chapter and stops sucking and starts being a fount of pure, unadulterated awesome. Perrin stops mid-story to do a little blacksmithing. Honest labor—how often does something like THAT happen in epic fantasy? It might seem a bit non sequitur, but it’s central to Perrin’s character. He’s a born craftsman forced into the role of a warrior.
An Aiel appeared in book 2, but The Dragon Reborn is really our introduction to the Aiel—an “exotic” created culture on par with the Seanchan introduced in book 2 (albeit a very different culture). New shadowspawn, darkhounds, are introduced (spooky, but not as spooky as the ravens in book 1, nothing will ever be that scary). Perrin finds a love interest (unfortunately one of the most annoying characters in the series). We’re introduced to White Tower politics.
The cover for The Dragon Reborn has always been among my favorites. It’s not particularly accurate to Jordan’s descriptions (true for pretty much all the original covers), but it captures the key scene in the book, captures on a deeper level its place in the broader story (The Dragon Reborn entirely revolves around Rand taking Callandor).
Supergirls ‘It’s a Trap!’ Counter: The Dragon Reborn-2, total-3
Original or new cover? Original. (Original 2, New 2)