Fourth in Jordan's colossal Wheel of Time series (The Dragon Reborn, 1991, etc.) and, again, all but unintelligible if you haven't read the preceding volumes. For series fans, then: Rand, now openly proclaimed as the Dragon Reborn, must journey to the lost city Rhuidean in the Aiel desert in search of answers and the fulfillment of prophecy. Perrin, the yellow-eyed wolf-friend, hurries back to Emond's Field, his home, now occupied by deluded religious-fanatic Whitecloaks and besieged by vile Trollocs and evil-magic Fades. Tar Valon, city of the Aes Sedai (women who can Channel the one Power), is sacked by traitorous Black Ajah serving the Evil One; meanwhile, Nynaeve and Elayne travel to the festering city Tanchico in pursuit of more Black Ajah, and where they hope to seize a deadly device with which their enemies intend to control Rand. Will the fiercely independent warrior Aiel acknowledge Rand as their destined leader? Can Perrin defeat both Trollocs and Whitecloaks? And can Nynaeve, alone, defeat a supremely powerful Forsaken, one of the Evil One's minions from the previous cycle of the Wheel? Such questions keep the narrative chugging along, despite much overblown description and general lack of control. A work of genuine and often stirring imagination—in that Jordan imagines everything: he imagines how dialogue might sound, battles might be fought, people might behave. Sometimes he strikes a note of real pathos or insight; more often he doesn't. Huge, then, and not entirely unrewarding.
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