The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan, Narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer

The Shadow Rising picks up where The Dragon Reborn left off, with Rand al’Thor wielding his authority from the Stone of Tear after breaching the fortress with the assistance of a cadre of Aiel and taking Callandor in accordance with prophecy. For a brief interval, the companions who set out from the Two Rivers are together in one place again, before the machinations of the Forsaken and Rand’s reluctant determination to embrace his fate forces them to head in separate directions yet again.
Mat and Moiraine follow Rand deep into the Aiel Waste, set for the sacred city of Rhuidean where Rand means to fulfill the next prophecy on his path to become The Dragon Reborn.
Perrin, Faile, and Loial depart for the Two Rivers, where Perrin hopes to save his family and friends from the Children of the Light, only to discover that things are far worse than his nightmares prepared him to expect.
Nynaeve, Elayne, and Thom Merrilin follow the trail of the Black Ajah to Tanchico, desperate to discover the secret weapon the dark sisters are hoping to use against Rand.
All of this takes place while Min attempts to sus out the meaning of her prophetic visions at the White Tower, as tumult and upheaval loom on the near horizon.
The Shadow Rising was one of my favorite books in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series when I originally began reading the series years ago. This was primarily because we begin to catch tantalizing glimpses of the world before the breaking as well as insights into the less previously well-explored cultures introduced in the first three books, in particular, the Aiel and Seanchan. Jordan also provided readers with a fascinating look at the dynamic between various Forsaken as well as the Dark Friends operating in the world, and how those various individuals and groups are frequently acting at odds with one another.
It isn’t all world-building in this book, though. There’s plenty of action and a whole lot of story along the way.
As with the previous three audiobooks, the narration provided by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer is spectacular, at no point taking the listener out of the experience or disrupting the flow of the narrative.

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