The Dragon Reborn began with Rand, Perrin, Moiraine, Lan, Min and Loial camping in the mountains near Toman Head and Egwene, Nynaeve, Elyane, Matt and Verin on the road to Tar Valon.
Rand left the mountain camp on his own, in the wake of a Trolloc attack, with the intention of both escaping Moiraine’s plans for him and seeking out a powerful sa’angreal called Callandor in the Heart of the Stone in Tear. Rand intended to attempt to fulfill one of the prophicies that was considered one of the greatest signs that the Dragon has been reborn as a way of confirming to himself one way or the other whether he was truly the Dragon Reborn or whether the Aes Sedai were trying to use him as a false Dragon.
Upon discovering what Rand had done, Moiraine, Lan, Perrin and Loial set out in pursuit of Rand. Moiraine ordered Min to carry a message to Tar Valon to update the Amyrlin on what was happening with Rand. On their journey to Tear they encountered a caged Aiel named Gaul, who Perrin freed, a Hunter for the Horn named Zarine a.k.a. Faile, who took a special interest in Perrin and discovered that two more of the Forsaken were loose. Sammael, was posing as one of the council of the nine in Illian, while Be’lal had assumed command as a High Lord of Tear. They also learned that someone had set a pack of Darkhounds and Grey Men on Perrin and Rand’s trails.
Matt, who had been at death’s door by the time they reached Tar Valon, was healed of his connection to the Shadar Logoth dagger, though he still suffered from gaps in his memory. Elayne and Egwene were raised to the Accepted. The Amyrlin recruited Egwene and Nynaeve to hunt down the 13 members of the Black Ajah who had fled the tower and they brought Elayne in on the chase. Once the girls decided the Black Ajah had gone to Tear and they would have to follow, Elayne charged Matt with carrying a letter to her mother in Camelyn.
On the journey to Tear, the girls met Aviendha, a member of a group of Maidens of the Spear who were searching for He Who Comes with the Dawn. Once in Tear, they recruited a theif catcher by the name of Juilin Sandar to help them find the Black Ajah, but Liandrin used her compulsion ability on Sandar to find and imprison the girls in the Stone as bait for Rand.
Matt discovered Thom Merrilin performing at an inn in Tar Valon and convinced him to come with him to Caemlyn. In the process of delivering Elayne’s letter, Matt discovered that the queen’s new advisor and paramour was plotting to kill Elayne, Egwene and Nynaeve. Matt and Thom rushed to Tear to attempt to save the girls. With the aid of Sandar, Matt was able to break into the Stone and rescue the three girls with an assist from Egwene, who had used her ability as a Dreamer to disable the Black Sister who was guarding their cell before Matt arrived to let them out.
Rand and a large group of Aiel also broke into the Stone that night. While the Aiel battled the Defenders of the Stone, Rand confronted Be’lal, who was attempting to goad Rand into taking Callandor, so that he could then take Callandor from Rand, however Moiraine arrived and killed Be’lal with balefire. Rand was then immediately forced into a conflict with Ba’alzamon, who fled to tel’aran’rhiod when Rand confronted him with Callandor. After battling in the world of dreams, Rand was able to kill Ba’alzamon with Callandor and thinking he had won the Last Battle, declared himself the Dragon Reborn.
While all of that was going on, Perrin was fighting his own battle in the Wolf Dream, in an attempt to rescue Faile, who he had fallen in love with, from a trap set by the Black Ajah for Moiraine. Perrin was able to save Faile, but was seriously injured in the attempt.
In the aftermath, Moiraine revealed that she believed “Ba’alzamon” was actually one of the Forsaken, possibly Ishamael, posing as the Dark Lord and that the Last Battle was far from over and that 9 of the Forsaken still remained loose in the world. She also learned from an Aiel leader named Rhuarc, that the Aiel are the “people of the Dragon,” mentioned in the prophecies.
The Dragon Reborn, begins the major transition from Rand as a young man running away from a fate he does not want to becoming a formidable weapon against the shadow and leader of men. Perrin also begins to become more accepting of his connection to the wolves, while Matt is still fighting against his role in events, though he finds himself unable to actually abandon his friends in order to escape it.
Nynaeve, Egwene and Elayne’s abilities with the One Power continue to expand, with Nynaeve discovering the ability to wield balefire and to heal without her herbs and Egwene beginning to utilize her rare talent as a Dreamer.
Moiraine continues to try to guide Rand down the path she feels he must take, but finds events outpacing her and instead of guiding Rand’s path, she must follow him and settle for just trying to keep him alive.
The world continues to grow more dangerous for all of the major characters, with the Forsaken attempting to use or kill them as part of their various plots to gain power and advantage.
Much like the previous two novels, The Dragon Reborn, is full of action which culminates in a grand battle against the Forsaken at the end of the novel.