Robert Jordan's "The Dragon Reborn" - book 3 of "The Wheel of Time" - largely ignored Rand al'Thor, even though he is the central character of the series and the title character of that book. In book 4 - "The Shadow Rising" - Rand takes center stage.

Rand has embraced his fate as the reincarnation of Lews Therin and his destiny to lead the forces of light in the coming battle against darkness. His mystical power increases and he begins to gather an army around himself. Meanwhile, various factions vie for power in an often violent way. The monstrous Trollocs and the fanatical Children of the Light and the farmers of the Three Rivers, the powerful Aes Sedai, and the warrior Aiel - now revealed as Rand's native people.

At 981 pages, this book is the longest in the series; but not by much. 7 Of the remaining 10 novels top the 850-page mark.

Each book follows the same formula: the protagonists split up and travel through the world and/or reunite and are attacked by the bad guys, climaxing in a battle between Rand and one of the "Forsaken", who have chosen to follow the demonic Dark One.

Jordan moves the story forward more rapidly than in the earlier volumes, but at a slower pace than I would like. As in the previous novels, he does a good job of developing the characters and the world. We learn the secret history of the Aiel; and a coup among the Ais Sedai, along with the fate of their leader of that order. In addition to Rand's evolution, Perrin comes into his own in this story, rising to the challenge of leading the defense of his village against an invading army. His arc was my favourite of this book.

The series still has me intrigued. I will continue.