Spoilers for Eye of The World and chapter 1 – 40 of the Great Hunt. | More info and previous posts | 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 chapter 22-40.
Moiraine and Lan
Finally, someone on one between Lan and Moiraine. A bit of flashback about their first meeting, and then a discussion of their relationship as Warder and Sedai. I’m still not getting the dynamic between these two. Is it love? Friendship? Why would someone willing become bound to an Aes Sedai, so that (even though Moiraine doesn’t) they can be compelled to do anything? To become, essentially, a glorified bodyguard for life? Maybe New Spring will shed some more light.
Then Moiraine does some research on the Dragon, which translates in her asking Vandene a bunch of questions. Of course, Vandene immediately guesses the truth and asks Moiraine whether she knows about the rebirth of the Dragon. And Moiraine’s response really drove it home to me what it means that Aes Sedai never lie, but the truth they speak may not be the truth you hear;
“If I did,” Moiraine replied levelly, “would I be here, instead of in the White Tower? The Amyrlin knows as much as I, that I swear. Have you received a summons from her?”
Because, of course, the Amyrlin knows everything – they are co-conspirators! And the rest are just questions, not facts! Clever. Then there is a surprise attack by a Draghkar, who proceeds to try and give the Dementor’s Kiss to Moiraine, but is cut down in short order by the Warders. Man, I would enjoy these books so much more if their ideas hadn’t been re-used in later stuff that I’ve already read. The chill that I felt when I learned about what Dementors can do – that should’ve been here.
There is a tantalising hint of some hidden answer in this chapter, but despite a second read through, I couldn’t find it 😦
Nynaeve’s Test, and Min Elayne and Egwene bond
Nynaeve’s test to become an accepted was really hard-hitting. I came out the other side feeling a lot more sympathetic about her. Both for how much she genuinely cares about the people in Emond’s field, and for how hard it was to abandon them, and a happy life with Lan, to return. Whatever bad you say, the lady’s will is rock solid. There’re more indications that Nynaeve is not your regular Sedai, and very powerful. I’m totally digging these inside views of the Aes Sedai. The oaths are mentioned – not to lie, not to make weapons, and not to use the One Power unless in mortal danger.
At this point though, a question comes to mind. Apparently, the oath to not lie is not good manners, but it is binding. Then how the hell does the Black Ajah still exist? I mean, all you have to do, is periodically ask all the Aes Sedai whether they are a Darkfriend and a member of the Black Ajah! It’s a simple yes/no question, and they cannot lie. Any attempts at misdirection won’t work – because they will be asked only to answer with a yes or a no. Has no one ever thought of that? To just ask?
After that, there’s a meeting and befriending between Elayne and Min and Rand, swooning over Galad and a few glimpses of life as a Novice. Interesting stuff, but nothing relevant to the current plot.
Rand, Hurin and Loial arrive in Cairhien, city of pomp and show and apparently a noble class that has zero redeeming qualities. They settle down to wait for Ingtar and Selene (goddamnit Rand that woman is no good!) in an inn. Poor Rand continues to sink in the quicksand of Daes Dae’mar and lordship, despite his trying best to stay out of it. The more you struggle the faster you sink… He goes out to explore the city, and stumbles across Thom.
Thom’s Alive! Yayyyyy! Thom tells Rand to fetch his flute and stuff while he finishes his jig – which Rand does, because like the stand-up guy he is, he is still hanging on to them. Rand and Loial go to Thom’s inn and meet Dena, Thom’s sweetheart. Good for you, Thom you old dog! Then there is some serious discussion about the Horn and the Karaetheon Cycle. Another bloody riddle/prophecy, and about the Callandor paradox. Rand asks Thom to join him on his adventure again, and Thom refuses.
Wait, what?! Huh. I guess Thom has a point though – he’s already helped Rand and the boys a lot – even going so far as to fight a Fade. And he’s in love. Cairhien will pay well, and he can settle down and have a happy life. But if Thom’s part in the story is done, then I’m a chimpanzee. You just wait Thom. Rand’s ta’veren.
On the way back, Rand and Loial are ambushed by trollocs. Rand tries to use the One Power – but can’t. What does this mean? Is this the randomness because of his not being trained? Or something else? Anyway, Loial kicks some ass and they escape. But they are still surrounded, and Rand decides to run and take shelter in a walled compound on a hill. And then they come across Selene. Run, Rand, Run! But of course the dumbass is all worried about her. They hide in the compound, which apparently belongs the Illuminators, aka fireworks people. And they kill trespassers. Oh boy, frying pan and fire. Rand sets off some fireworks – which I was sure he would from the moment they were mentioned. They avoid discovery thanks to what I suspect is Selene’s magic (who thankfully abandons Rand soon after), dodge the trollocs, and return to the inn. Rand finds a note from Selene. There’s her usual crap about greatness and glory, and then this:
“And think of me, for you are always mine.”
Overly Attached Girlfriend much? Ah, I remember now, Lanfear was supposed to be connected to Lews Therin somehow. Selene = Lanfear = Daughter of The Night confirmed as far as I am concerned.
Mat and Perrin
Ingtar and co. continue to follow the trail thanks to Perrin. They have already come across where Rand stole the horn, and Perrin knows the one who killed the trollocs (aka Rand) as Shadowkiller. Cool name. They stumble across an Aielman, who very helpfully gives some more cryptic hints – about a forgotten but not forgiven sin, and a search for He Who Comes With The Dawn. I think theAielmen are somehow descended from LewTherin, the sin is whatLews did in the prologue ofEoTW -kinslaying and breaking, and the guy theAiel are searching for is none other than Rand himself.
Bornhald the Child of The Light get some pagetime – the Whitecloaks are up to no good, as usual, and Bornhald is not happy, and finally decides to take matters in his own hand, ignoring the orders of his superiors.
On the Spray, Domon is being pursued – and is soon captured – by the Seanchan. It seems that yes, they are indeed return from across the sea and are the spawn of Hawkwing. They’re badass warriors, but not nice. Not nice at all. There’s a culture of rigid hierarchy, cruelty and generall stuck-up-ness. They also have damanes – enslaved channelers, leashed like a friggin’ dog. Which figures, given Hawkwing’s loathing for the Aes Sedai. The Seanchan have apparently managed to conquer Falme and the nearby territories, and are being dicks to the locals. I don’t like these people.
They find the cuendillar which they don’t know is in fact a broken seal of Shayol Ghul. How the fuck did Domon get it? I know it was mentioned earlier in his POV too, but it’s broken! That makes 2/7 broken seals. This is not good, at all.
Cairhien to Toman Head
Rand. Poor Rand, continues to sink ever deeper into Daes Dae’mar. Now he’s getting invitations from royalty. Not bad for a sheperd. On a serious note, they’re trapped in Cairhien, with nowhere to run and no sign of Ingtar.
Rand visits the medieval version of an information desk, and has to deal with petty civil servants thinking the world revolves around them and generally being unhelpful dicks. Pretty much like bureaucracy today. That’s the least of their worries though, as Rand and Loial spot fire on the way back, and rush back to find the inn burning, Hurin wounded and unconscious (who Rand, stand up guy that he is, saves from death by fie), and the Horn of Valere™ stolen. Oh noes! All is lost!
No, all is not lost – Ingtar and co. arrive at last, and Rand, Mat and Perrin are reunited. Yay! They move to an unburned inn. Ingtar is getting really manic about the horn, BTW. I don’t like this – it feels that he’s heading for disaster and tragedy. Anyway, the group hold a war council about what to do now. Rand brings them up to speed on his adventures. Verin is immediately suspicious of Selene. Hurin works his smelly magic and finds that the trollocs are hiding in Lord Bathanes’ palace. It is decided that Rand will RSVP Barthanes’ invite, and they will try and infiltrate the palace and look for the horn and the dagger – it’s kinda urgent now, because Mat is getting worse.
And apparently the big ass crystal ball that gave Rand a weird trip is a sa’angreal, and now what Rand felt makes much more sense. Though I still don’t understand why he shouted that Aiel saying. It seems there are two – one for a man, and one for a woman. I bet that these sa’angreal will be used to epic effect – if not in this book, then certainly sometime in the series. The One Power is clearly like electricity in that you can draw as much as you want, but too much will burn you out and destroy you. I like this – it’s clever because it makes the magic at once basically unlimited in scope in theory but dangerous to do in practice.
At Barthanes’ party, Rand continues to accidentally be a superb player of Daes Dae’mar. Mat bitches about having to play the role of servant. Damnit Mat, it’s just acting and it’s critical for the Quest and to save your ass. Rand meets Thom, who seems none too happy to be wasting his talents in a noble party where no one seems to appreciate him. Thom reiterates that he’s done helping Rand (though he’s not happy doing it) and Rand must look out for himself. I reiterate the fact that Rand is ta’veren and the plot is not done with Thom.
Hurin follows the scent meanwhile, and it seems Padan Fain and his followers have used a Way Gate to escape, and set the Black Wind to guard the gate (something Verin assures us is not possible). Rand tries to use magic against it, but is almost fried in the attempt. Loial closes the gate though, and they return to the party. Barthanes all but admits to being a Darkfriend to Rand and tells him that Padan Fain awaits him at Toman Head. What the hell is it with Toman Head? Domon is there. Whitecloaks are there. Fain is there and wants Rand to follow. Seanchan are there. Wait.. the Seanchan are there. Does whatever Fain plan have something to do with them? But what?
Another War Council, and Ingtar and Co. decide to try their luck at nearby Stedding Tsofu’s Way Gate, because Mat dies if they have to ride to Toman Head.
Meanwhile, Thom returns to find Dena dead and assassins in ambush. Going into badass mode, he kills the first, and then the second. Wow. Also, poor Thom. Finding love and happiness only to have it snatched like that, in a snap. Zera tells Thom that the assassins work for Galldrian, the king. Also, we find out Barthanes is dead. Who killed him, because Fain has already left. Galldrian, maybe?
We cut to a brief POV by Fain. The man is full of schemes and hate and vileness. As I suspected, he has some plans about the Seanchan. He walks in town and gives the horn to High Lord Turak. WTF! Why? I’m honestly stumped at what he hopes to achieve. Is he doing this on his own, or is it part of Ba’alzamon’s plan? But either way, why give the horn away? Does he mean to make Turak (or Turak’s empress) ruler of the whole land, and then control the ruler from the shadows? We’ll see. Also, the dagger seems to have worked its influence over Padan Fain as well. That thing is dangerous. Fain also sets a trap for Rand, telling Turak that Rand’s a darkfriend and whatnot. Sneaky bastard.
Rand and party make their way to Stedding Tsofu. Loial falls for a Erith, a pretty lady Ogier. There’s an interesting bit of worldbuilding as we see how the Ogier society and way of life. Ingtar is totally losing his shit. Calm down, dude. In short order though, they get permission to use Tsofu’s Way Gate, try to open it only to find the Black Wind lying in wait, and close it again. Stuck!
Aha, not so fast! Conveniently, Tsofu also has a portal stone. So Verin has Rand try and activate it again. Creepiness ensues, as Rand (and presumably everyone else) lives/sees a bunch of possible versions of his life – him going crazy, him staying in Emond’s field, him being gentled, him becoming a soldier… flicker flicker flicker flicker… And at the end of every life, “I have won again, Lews Therin”. Creeepyyy…
In the end the teleport/freakshow ends and they find that Rand has managed to teleport them to Toman head, except they’ve lost four months. What the heck! I’m calling it now, the portal stones are just crrazy. Everyone picks up the pieces of their mind, which was blown by all the flicker-ing, and set off west.
Flight From The White Tower
With almost all the pieces assembled at Toman Head, the big ones remaining are Egwene and Nynaeve. So we move to Tar Valon. Egwene’s training is progressing pretty well (also, off-stage. I want to see more of Sedai School). She’s starting to get addicted to the power, too. Nynaevel, Min, Elayne and Egwene are hanging out chatting and bonding, when Liandrin (of the Black Ajah, which would not exist if only people like Amyrlin would only ask her point blank whether she’s a darkfriend) crashes the party, feeds Nynaeve and Egwene about Rand being in danger.
Nynaeve’s skepticism, which would have irritated me earlier, now feels smart caution – because we know Liandrin is up to no good. Yeah, I’m definitely starting to like Nynaeve. Min and Elayne join Egwene and they sneak out from the White Tower and rendezvous with Liandrin, who leads them into a Way Gate, a mostly uneventful journey, and out to Toman Head.
Where they are immediately ambushed by the Seanchan, who try and leash Egwene and Nynaeve, but luckily Nynaeve and Elayne escape. Egwene and Min are not so lucky. Apparently, Lady Suroth is a Darkfriend as well, and Liandrin was planning to have Egwene and friends shipped across the sea. Maybe scared that they’ll become too powerful Sedai and mess with her (and Ba’alzamon’s) plans? The damane thing is revealed more. And yes, it is just as bad as I thought it to be. Capturing people and treating them like pets? Not cool.
Nynaeve meanwhile is having trouble channeling because she’s no longer angry, only afraid. Damn. Anyway, she and Elayne set off west as well, to Falme.
Well well well. I said in the previous post that I’m liking The Great Hunt better than The Eye of The World, and that’s more true now. The characters are starting to really grow on me, the plot is moving to new and exciting places, more and more of the epic world is being revealed. The next post will conclude my reading of book 2 – only 10 chapters to go!