Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Dragon Reborn (Midpoint Analysis)

The Dragon Reborn has had its hills and valleys over the first three hundred and some pages.  The premise is still amazing, picking up where the first two books in the series let off, and the elements that make epic fantasy one of my favorite genres are used in perfect amounts.  A few places could have used a touch more editing.

Robert Jordan was known for his massive amount of viewpoint characters.  It's an incredible strategy to world-build and assemble plot points by throwing in viewpoints from tertiary characters when we need to learn something from them, especially if it can be done in a page or two, which Jordan often did.  Some authors abuse the strategy, however, bringing us to the brink of a sub-plot only to shift over to a different viewpoint.  Jordan knew exactly when he could cut a viewpoint short and come back later.  He varied the voice of each character enough that we always knew who was the POV character in the first paragraph of any scene and got to see a variety of perceptions from people of different pasts.  Brandon Sanderson pointed out that the similes and metaphors that each character uses are in direct correlation with their background.

One of Robert Jordan's funniest uses of character thought is brought to a head in The Dragon Reborn.  Perrin, Mat, and Rand each think the other two are better with women than they are!  It shows that even if the three of them are confident individuals, they're still everymen.  He also handled the subject in a clean manner that I can appreciate.

Several times while reading the first part of a certain chapter I thought to myself that Jordan was having a poor day when he was writing "this".  Then I hit the climax of the scene.  I was blown away.  [Spoiler] Mat defeated two people training with the Warders in swordplay using a quarterstaff.  It really sunk in then and there that things don't always turn out as you would originally expect, even while preserving logic.  Farmers with large sticks could defeat swordsmen in legitimate fights.  Everyone's a hero sometimes.  Robert Jordan needed an everyman, in this case Mat, to convey a little snatch of theme.  He did so brilliantly.

A few times while reading I've noticed small typos.  I read just below the surface, so throwing me out of the story isn't a huge deal for me, but it could be for some.  Granted, it's a huge book and there are bound to be an error or two.  I'll consider it a forgivable offense.

I can't cite anything specific off the top of my head that has thrown up a red flag for me.  In reality, they're more like pink flags anyway, and it's near to impossible to keep up five star quality page in and page out.  A few places felt a little dry or redundant perhaps, nothing huge.

Overall, The Dragon Reborn is panning out to be one of my favorite books.  It isn't a flashy, heart-shaking tome, yet everything has fallen into place and the prose is serene.  To end as cliche as possible, this is "Jordan at the top of his game".