Having declared himself the Dragon Reborn, Rand al’Thor must proceed to fulfill the prophecy that he will protect the world from the return of the Dark One. Jordan’s hefty addition to his massive series begins very much in medias res as an unknown danger threatens the city of Tar Valon, home of the powerful, nunlike Aes Sedai. In a whirlwind of uncertainty stirred up by the conflicting motivations of such groups as the Whitecloaks, the Darkfriends and Trollocs (among an abundance of others), Rand travels to the city of Rhuidean in the Aiel Waste for answers. Jordan (The Dragon Reborn) seems to be intent on turning the series into an endless soap opera; in each successive volume he introduces more new elements than he resolves. What was originally a mood-setting technique-the tendency of most characters not to share their special knowledge with either their companions or the reader-has by now become boring. Hundreds of characters and dozens of conflicting plots cause much of the action to take place offstage. As a result, this fully imagined saga threatens to burst the seams of its steadily more intricate design. Nevertheless, the sheer force of his invention develops a momentum that established Jordan fans, and probably like-minded new readers, will find hard to resist.