The Shadow Rising and serves as a wide ranging extension of the narrative developed in The Dragon Reborn as the heroes of the tale are separated far and wide where they must face their own unique trials. Multiple story arcs diverge and interleave as prophesies are unfolded and the Dark One makes further gains in his escape from his bondage.
The hero of light, the Dragon Reborn, Rand al'Thor is in a desperate battle to fulfill his destiny against mind-numbing fatigue and frustration over the hands who wish to kill him or control him. Without really a clue as to how he is supposed to go about saving the world from the power of the Dark One, he manages to fall back on instincts and vague feelings about which step he must take next. Precariously he walks along a knife's edge one step from destruction and defeat. Finally, the leadings and manipulations of the Aes Sedai are able to control and corral him less and less. Moiraine, the powerful sorceress who has led him away from his home in the farming community of Two Rivers, has been shut out by Rand, and her frustration at her failure to keep him in check is growing. She does not yet realize that Rand is following the path that he must. One by one he must face the powerful protectors of the Dark One.
Perrin Aybara has found his way back to the Two Rivers to battle the monstrous armies of evil who have been sent to draw Rand out from the safety of his protectors. Perrin, a thoughtful young man whose only dream was to be trained as a blacksmith, has grown to become a leader of his people. Not only does he repel the horde, but he grows fully into manhood as he not only saves his community but he frees Rand from the bait of distraction.
Egwene al'Vere, Nynaeve al'Meara, and Elayne Trakand continue in their quest to root out the schemes of the black Ajah, those Aes Sedai who have pledged their souls and allegiance to the Dark One. Even though they are young in their training and often ill-equipped from the standpoint of experience, they each possess raw abilities and talents that have not been seen in Aes Sedai in generations. Bit by bit their work is gaining traction, but even still, they seem to be overmatched in each encounter they face. Worse yet, they do not yet realize that the White Tower has fallen and they are completely on their own.
A fascinating set of narratives that I have absolutely embraced. I now move onto the fifth book in the series, The Fires of Heaven.