Book Review : The Great Hunt

Book Review : The Great HuntThe Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, #2) by Robert Jordan
Published by Tor Books on October 15th 1991
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic
Pages: 705
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The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
Let the Dragon ride again on the winds of time.

If possible, I think I enjoyed The Great Hunt, even more than its predecessor, The Eye of the World. The Great Hunt does a phenomenal job of setting up for future installments, while still having plenty of character development and action in the future. I think what I like the most about The Wheel of Time series is its portrayal of many complex and powerful women, and The Great Hunt is no exception to this rule. But it wasn’t just the women’s development I found interesting, but also Rand’s too. Though I have never found him very likable, in this novel, he starts to come more into his own, testing his powers and newfound confidence. Despite my interest in the characters’ development, I did find that the pacing slowed to almost a halt a little before ¾ of the way through the novel, but that it picked up pace again at the end. I also found that one of the main antagonists of The Great Hunt did not work for me as intended, but that another threat, the Seanchan, proved much more terrifying.


What I loved the most about this book was the training of Egwene and Nynaeve as Aes Sedai in the White Tower of Tar Valon. Nynaeve, powerful in the One Power and her absolute sassiness, is my favorite character in The Wheel of Time Series so far and I loved watching her go through the trials to become an Apprentice Aes Sedai, a higher rank than that of Egwene’s Novice. I was also thrilled to learn more about the order of Aes Sedai, with its different colored branches and their beliefs–with some even serving Ba’alzamon. It was also very fun to catch up with Min and The Daughter-Heir, Elayne. The only thing that I didn’t like about the time that focused on these women was that all of them but Nynaeve, have feelings for Rand. Yeesh.  As someone who spends a lot of time in his perspective, I honestly don’t get his appeal at all and I really hope it doesn’t cause trouble among the otherwise intelligent, strong, and capable female characters.


“‘However much you say you do not care,’ Elayne said, ‘I think you’d approve less than Mother would. He is interesting, Egwene. More interesting than any man I’ve ever met, even if he is a shepherd. If you are silly enough to throw him away, you will have only yourself to blame if I decide to face down you and Mother both. It would not be the first time the Prince of Andor had no title before he wed.’”


Though Rand is more likable in The Great Hunt, he still has that perpetual “why me?” attitude that is SUPER annoying. He’s terrified of his Channeling, going mad, losing his friends, being revealed as the Dragon Reborn, pretending to be a Noble, losing the Great Horn of Valere, finding the horn, and blowing the Great Horn. There’s literally nothing Rand isn’t afraid of and he faces most threats with the determined petulance and poutiness of a child. He’s also not the brightest crayon in the box, being incredibly easy to manipulate by both pretty faces and the Aes Sedai due to his adamant opposition to his destiny. Despite his recalcitrance, Rand thankfully takes steps to becoming more confident in this novel. Under the tutelage of Lan, he becomes a more competent swordsman, and he also uses the One Power due to circumstances thrust upon him. I can only hope that one day he loses the attitude altogether and accepts his destiny, but I fear it might take about ten more entries in the series. 


“You must choose Rand. The world will be broken whether you break it or not.”


But if the rest of the novels goes as fast as The Great Hunt, I won’t mind it so much. I found The Great Hunt to be much faster paced than The Eye of the World, which took me about a month to read. In contrast, The Great Hunt took me a little over a week to finish. I enjoyed Rand, Perrin, Mat,  and Loial’s chase of the Great Horn of Valere, a horn that when blown will raise the famous warriors of old to fight in battle–whether for good or for ill. Stolen by Padan Fain and Darkfriends, along with the sinister dagger of Shayol Gul, keeping Mat alive, the Horn must be recaptured at all costs. Though Padan Fain is supposedly more evil than a typical Darkfriend and journeys with Trollocs and Fades, I never found him that compelling or frightening of a villain. I felt like the novel missed its mark on that one–so far. 


She’s Aes Sedai, and she was crying, Min! She has a collar on her neck, they make her answer to Pura, and she can’t do anything more about it than I can….She was crying because she’s beginning to stop fighting against it, because she cannot take being punished anymore. She was crying because she wants to take her own life, and she cannot even do that without permission.”


However, the Seanchan, descendants of the great Artur Hawking, who seek to take over Illian in what their people call the Return, were much more terrifying to me. These ruthless warriors wield anything to give them an edge in battle–whether its Shadowspawn, animals, or horrifically–Aes Sedai. Women known as sul’dam are trained to use horrific leashes known as a’dam to control what they refer to as damane, or women who can channel. These a’dam connect to a collar on the poor damane and are leashed to the bracelet of a sul’dam. The sul’dam treat their damane as slaves or dogs, stripping them of their names, controlling their use of channeling and punishing them through the Power. It is a fate worse than death to an Aes Sedai and I was so absolutely appalled by the practice View Spoiler » that anything else in The Great Hunt was not as terrifying.


Though little of the novel concerns itself with the Seanchan, I find that I am already fearful that my favorite ladies Nynaeve, Egwene, Moirane, and Elayne will have to deal with these monstrous people again in the future. Though most of the novel takes place in this chase for the Great Horn of Valere, it does jump perspectives quite a lot. Surprisingly, I didn’t mind the jumping of point-of-views, something that I usually find detestable. I think it’s because I like all of the characters of the novel (except Rand) so much and that there were ample amounts of mystery and foreshadowing for the future, while there was also action. It also kept the pace moving very fast, except when it reached a little before ¾ of the way though The Great Hunt. I grew bored once Rand reached the city Cairhein and got caught up in the stupid politics of the nobles, referred to as the Daes Dae’mar, or the Game of Houses/Great Game. Since Rand does not have the smarts to play the game, and was like a fish floundering out of water, gasping for air, I couldn’t stand that part of the novel and was thrilled when it was over. 


Honestly, if you liked The Eye of the World, or are in general a fan of fantasy, you will like The Great Hunt. And even if you aren’t too big on fantasy, I imagine the powerful female characters would be a pretty strong draw for anyone. I’m very excited to read the next entry in the series, The Dragon Reborn, because there is just so much happening in the present and so many things promised to happen in the future of the series. I cannot wait to see where The Wheel of Time turns next.

Book Review : The Great Hunt - Blogging with Dragons

Posted April 4, 2020 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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