Spoilers for Eye of The World and chapter 1 – 21 of the Great Hunt. | More info | Please no spoilers for future books/events
In my plan to read The Wheel of Time, and posts about my experience, I’m now on book 2, The Great Hunt. (Couldn’t do The Eye of The World because of time issues, but I did review it). This post covers the first twenty-one chapters.
So we pick up a few weeks after the climactic ending of The Eye of The World. The prologue gives some interesting perspective on the whole darkfriend thing. There’s an appearance by Ba’alzamon, confirming what I already was almost sure of – whatever Rand did at the Eye of The World, it didn’t actually kill the Dark One. Also, the existence of the Black Ajah is confirmed. But apart from that it is mostly uneventful, though no doubt it foreshadows some stuff.
The Amyrlin Seat comes to Tar Valon
Back in Fal Dara, Rand is taking sword lessons from Lan. About time too, I say. And then the Amyrlin seat arrives, and Rand straight up goes batshit. Trying to run away from Fal Dara. And then trying to protect Mat and Perrin by being a huge dick to them. And then the whole thing with Egwene, leading to hiding in the dungeon. With Padan Fain. Who is established to be worse than a darkfriend. I honestly wanted to shout at him to stop this idiocy. But then, with his stubbornness, I doubt he’d have listened. But really, we know that the Dragon is supposed to be this special legendary person, and it was pretty obvious to me that he wouldn’t be gentled or anything, which made his panic seem totally overblown.
Next up, Moiraine goes to meet the Amyrlin Seat, and there’s some of the oft-repeated Aes Sedai ajahs and plotting. I already get evil vibes from Liandrin. So, we meet the Amyrlin, and lo and behold, she’s up to something. I absolutely do not like what Moiraine is getting into with this whole conspiracy. In typical fantasy fashion, it appears that the two girls who almost randomly followed Rand and co. from Emond’s field are going to become the most powerful Aes Sedai in centuries. What with Perrin becoming a wolfbrother, all that’s left is for Mat to turn out to be the heir to Tear or something. Moiraine’s plans about Rand also seem to be having way too much left to chance, and I doubt they’ll actually work.
… and lo and behold, Liandrin is indeed up to no good. Black Ajah? I think so. If I were Amalise, I’d be very suspicious indeed. But then the poor woman is scared out of her wits and Liandrin is using magic too. So whatever. As far as I can tell, no major wrong comes out of this.
The Shadow in Shienar: Attack of the Trollocs
Rand is having another one of his nightmares. At this point, I’m kinda sick of them. Yes, I get that he’s having dreams, but do we have to read through every single one in excruciating detail? They aren’t even all that varied. The Dark One appears, talks trash to Rand for a bit, and maybe leaves some mark/wound that’ll show Rand it was more than a dream. Also, if the outcome is so certain, why is Ba’alzamon so keen to get Rand to work for him? Father of Lies indeed.
Continuing his string of ill-advised decisions, Rand goes ahead and invokes Shai’tan’s name. I’m generally not on Nynaeve’s side, but this time I understand her anger. Well, surprise surprise, a bunch of trollocs and fades crash the party. The Horn of Valere and Mat’s dagger are stolen. Padan Fain escapes in a mysteriously terrifying way. Inside help or no, Fal Dara’s security sucks. Scrawled on the wall we find this refreshingly simple and straightforward message:
WE WILL MEET AGAIN ON TOMAN HEAD. IT IS NEVER OVER, AL’THOR.
Rand immediately tries to rub it off. Stupid Rand, tampering with evidence.
Then we discover suitably creepy and enigmatic dark prophecy about the return of the Dark One and some lady forsaken. Verin tries to help us figure it out, but unfortunately I kinda powered through Lan’s backstory so I don’t get it. Also, apparently Hawkwing’s armies are back. Whatever. To no surprise, Verin “uncovers” the Amyrlin’s and Moiraine’s conspiracy. Then there is some much-needed backstory provided by the Amyrlin, but we don’t get to listen to any of it and the POV switches to Perrin. Damnit! I detest when authors do this shady fade to black trick to keep information from the reader. Rand tries to patch thing up with Perrin but predictably makes a mess of it.
Rand is.. The Dragon Reborn
Rand is summoned to meet the Amyrlin, and to Rand’s surprise, he’s the Dragon Reborn. Actually, looking back, this is the first time that Rand finds this out, so his panic at the start makes more sense now. Oh well. Then there’s some very transparent mind games by the Aes Sedai to get Rand to join the hunt for the horn. They needn’t have bothered IMO. With Mat’s life in the balance, Rand would certainly have gone anyways.
The Hunt for the Horn begins
The Amyrlin prepares to leave for Tar Valon, while Rand joins Ingtar, Mat, Perrin, Loial etc. to search for the horn. There’s another surprise attack. Lord Agelmar is embarrassed, and rightly so.
We find out Ingtar plans to locate the horn by having a guy literally smell the trolloc party. This is just a really sucky plan. What happens it the trolloc party splits? The sniffer will have zero idea where the horn went. Or what if they hand over the horn to some other party and lead their pursuers on a merry chase? Honestly, the Fal Dara people have taken so long to get their asses into gear, I guess that’s the best they can do. Why not give chase ASAP after finding the horn missing? And we have already established that trollocs can cover distances faster than horses, so how does Ingtar even expect to catch up with them? Anyways…
Egwene’s magical education continues on the trip to Tar Valon. There are some conceptual clarifications about the nature of the One Power, and Nynaeve is acting irrationally stuck up and angry as usual. Nothing major.
From Stone to Stone
On Rand’s end though, things are shaping up to become rather interesting. Apparently, he’s managed to teleport himself into an alternate dimension, courtesy the stone with mysterious carvings. Holy shit! After a bit of panicking though, Loial, Hurin and Rand set off after the trail once more. Meanwhile, Ingtar is totally losing his shit on finding three people from his party missing. Perrin is on the case though. Conveniently enough, the local wolves have heard of him and immediately agree to drop everything and help him and Ingtar. They find the slaughter that Padan Fain has left behind, and are joined by Verin of the Brown Ajah.
In the alt-world, Rand stumbles across a monument that tells them this is a world where the trollocs won against Hawkwing. Another Ba’alzamon dream, Rand gets his hand burnt. Meh. Glad to see Rand doing his best not to use the One Power. Rand “rescues” Selene. I am having extemely bad vibes about this lady. Worst case, she’s probably the aforementioned forsaken, The Daughter of the Night. Rand’s legendary Aiel+Manetheren stubbornness goes out the window with her wily charms (probably aided by some magic), and he is almost a puppy in her hands. This is not good. This is not good. It is 100% obvious that she’s doing everything to get Rand to use magic. When her charms fail, she sics a bunch of grolm on them to force him to use the stone. No way, Rand whips out his bow and does some Grade A archery. Take that, Lars Anderson. Selene responds by summoning even more grolm. Long story short, Rand teleports(?) back into the normal world.
To The White Tower
Egwene is also having some sort of psychic dreams about Rand, as if her being one of the most promising Aes Sedai wasn’t enough. I’m kinda fed up with people exclaiming that X hasn’t happened for centuries. Egwene and Nynaeve take more lessons, this time from the Amyrlin herself. Nynaeve continues to astonish me at how irritated I am with her. Goddamnit woman, get a hold of yourself. The Amyrlin shows off some more power. I’m really intrigued with her making the sword. AFAIK, magic is elemental here, so what is she doing? Super condensed air? Optical illusion? Also, apparently people can cut off others from the True Source. That explains Logain the ex-false dragon’s Aes Sedai escort.
We finally get to see Dragonmount and Tar Valon.
Rand recovers the Horn
Rand continues to be unaware/oblivious of the fact that Selene is obviously totally evil and bad for him. As they say, Love (Lust) is blind. Rand and Loial manage to sneak under the noses of Padan Fain and his trollocs and run off with the Horn and the dagger. It doesn’t feel right to me. Too easy. Way too easy. Maybe Selene helped Rand secretly? Anyway, I’m glad to see Rand grow some backbone again and keep the horn out of her scheming hands. Anyway, that was fast. I expected the hunt to last the length of the book, kind of the mirror of book 1, with Rand hunting trollocs instead of vice versa.
There is some weird spiritual thing that happens to Rand when he spots an enormous crystal ball. There’s some song, a super strong connection to saidin, and a flash of the Aiel words. I have no idea what just happened. It freaked out Selene, so I guess it can’t be too bad. Rand and co. get to the inn and Rand plays some music. If I don’t have to see that flute and hear song names or how they’re different in different lands, it will be too soon. Caldevwin the captain is mighty suspicious of Rand, what with his painfully obvious attempt to verify that Rand is from Andor. Little does he know, Rand has already had an audience with the Queen Morgase (I loved that scene). His attempt to interrogate Selene falls flat as she redirects everyone’s attention by messing with the poor maid. Caldevwin also sticks rand with an “escort”. Apparently this is part of some inter-house cloak and dagger bullshit. Poor Rand.
On the next day, it seems Selene, spooked by Caldevwin, has left. Aww yeah! Good for you, Rand. You don’t know it yet though. And so Rand and co. plus their “escort” ride off on the way to Cairhien. Which, I gotta say, is a stupid idea. He should’ve tried to meet up with Ingtar instead. If nothing else, then because Mat needs that bloody dagger!
All in all though, I’m liking this one better than EoTW. There’s minimal LoTR ripoffiness, and the story seems to progressing better, thanks to the Aes Sedais providing a nice counterpoint to the hunt for the horn. So far so good.