The Wheel of Time
Book 3: The Dragon Reborn
On the one hand, if you've decided you don't like Jordan and his story, this is the perfect place to end your journey. The whole time you're reading, you feel as though the story is already over, and you're left wondering what on earth Jordan could have included in the remaining eleven books. There doesn't seem to be much left.
Given that it's only the third part, though, just about everything is left, but again, if it's not to your taste, yours truly suggests you don't put yourself through the fourth instalment in the series.
If you do decide to continue, however, reading this part is like hitting a wall. Using Lord of the Rings as a control of sorts (because the comparison is inevitable), imagine the area around the middle of the Fellowship of the Ring, where you got so bored you actually considered putting it down. Permanently. Then you were glad you didn't. Similarly, The Dragon Reborn can make you yawn at times, and wonder what happened to all the exciting stuff that was happening in the previous two books. Well, bridges are meant to be hard to cross.
Just a small incentive: the ending is quite spectacular. We wouldn't recommend missing it.
And it's definitely worth powering through three to get to four.
Book 4: The Shadow Rising
The book starts off with all major protagonists are gathered at the Stone of Tear, where Rand al'Thor has proven that he is, indeed, the Dragon Reborn, by wielding the sword Callandor. The characters undergo several changes between the third and fourth segments. This book is also where the dark forces literally show themselves in the form of the Forsaken, and allows us a glimpse into the hierarchy of the shadow world.
The protagonists are separated almost instantly, though, and the book follows them in four main plotlines. While Rand, Mat, Elayne and Moiraine go on to the Aiel Waste, Perrin returns to the Two Rivers. Min Farshaw arrives at the White Tower, and Elayne and Nynaeve encounter a second Forsaken in the city of Tanchico.
Meanwhile, the One Power's curse contained within Callandor begins to spread through Rand, as it does through all men who channel it, tainting their minds. Like every magical artefact out there.
Overall, The Shadow Rising is a turning point in the story. If The Dragon Reborn is the end of the introduction, The Shadow Rising is the beginning of the main storyline. You can trust that it won't disappoint.
If you're still reading this and haven't started the series yet, just go download the eBooks already.
By Professor Spork
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