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Title: The Great Hunt
Series: Wheel of Time #2
Author: Robert Jordan
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
From TarValon.net and authored by Toral Delvar
The book begins a few weeks after the end of The Eye of the World. Rand has remained in Fal Dara, practicing the sword with Lan, even though he had said he would get as far away as possible. Any plans he had to leave are shelved when a contingent of Aes Sedai visit, the Amyrlin Seat among them. Rand is questioned by one of them, Liandrin of the Red Ajah, who uses the Power on him to try and get answers to her questions. Moiraine convinces the Amyrlin, Siuan, that Rand must be allowed to go his own way, and that she will be there when he needs her.
Trollocs attack the town, freeing Fain from the dungeons and taking with them the Horn of Valere and the dagger, which are within the same chest. They leave Dark Prophecies on the wall, linking Luc with Isam, Lan’s cousin.
Rand is brought before the Amyrlin, Moiraine and another Aes Sedai, Verin, who has realized that Rand must be the Dragon Reborn. They tell Rand that he was born on Dragonmount at the end of the Aiel War, where Tam, his father, found him. They also tell him he is the Dragon Reborn, which he refuses to accept.
Moiraine convinces Rand to follow after the Horn, telling him it is important that Mat gets the dagger back. As the Aes Sedai are leaving, an arrow is shot from one of the towers, which only just misses the Amyrlin, though it might have been meant for Rand.
They set off after the Horn, using a man called Hurin, who can smell violence, to locate it. Perrin and Mat see Rand with the Dragon Banner Moiraine gave him, and Perrin reasons that Rand can channel. Fain, meanwhile, is beginning to show increasing abilities, which enable him to take control of the Darkfriends and stake a Myrddraal to a door.
Lord Ingtar, the leader of the Shienarans, tells Rand that Moiraine has made him second in command. Rand enters a room in a deserted village and experiences strange flashbacks. During one night, Rand, Loial and Hurin are transported to an alternate world via a Portal Stone. Rand wakes to find a heron branded into his hand. Hurin is able to use his abilities to keep on the trail, so they set off after the Horn. On the way, they meet Lanfear, calling herself Selene. She spends much of her time imploring Rand to seize greatness. They see a memorial of the victory of Trollocs over Artur Hawkwing and realize that in this world, all animal life has been destroyed. Eventually they find another Portal Stone, which Rand uses when they are under attack by creatures known as grolm to transfer them back to the real world. They find they are ahead of the Darkfriends, as Hurin had been smelling where the Darkfriends were going to be, not where they have been. Rand and Loial sneak up on them, and take the Horn and dagger back.
The head on to Cairhien, outside of which they see a sa’angreal in the form of a giant great statue which Rand feels calling to him. Rand is taken for a Lord, and gets mixed up in Daes Dae’mar; the noble houses begin sending him invitations, which he just burns, leading to invitations from greater and greater Houses, eventually leading to invitations from the King and Lord Barthanes, the King’s main rival.
Rand sees Trollocs in the city, and ends up in the Illuminators chapter house when he tries to flee them. His actions lead to the chapter house burning down. He meets Thom, who survived the Myrddraal in Whitebridge. While Rand visits him, the Darkfriends steal the Horn back.
Ingtar and the rest of the Shienarans are joined by Verin, who claims that Moiraine had sent her. They meet an Aiel claiming to be seeking He Who Comes With the Dawn, but Verin says they have seen no signs of him. They then catch up with Rand and the others.
Hurin traces the Horn to the manor of Lord Barthanes. The group uses an invitation to attend a party Barthanes is throwing. Here, they discover that Fain has taken the Horn through the Ways to Toman Head, on the Aryth Ocean, where Barthanes, a Darkfriend, says he will wait for Rand. The Waygate in Barthanes’ manor is blocked by Machin Shin, which tries to come out when they open it, although Verin insists it can’t be controlled. The following day Barthanes is found dead, his body completely ripped apart, presumably by a gholam. Thom’s girlfriend is killed by men working for the king who was suspicious of his involvement with Rand and his presence at Barthanes party. Thom kills the king.
They try a Waygate outside a nearby stedding. In here they meet more Aiel, which is unusual, as Aiel never leave the Waste. Mat tells Rand they are searching for him, as he is the only Aiel they know. Rand is not amused. Loial is nervous, since he doesn’t have permission to be outside his own stedding. He meets a female Ogier, Erith, who he is attracted to. The Waygate outside is also blocked by Machin Shin. They try using a Portal Stone. Something goes wrong when traveling through the Stone, enabling them all to experience many lives they could have led if circumstances had been different. In each of them, Rand is defeated, hearing the words “I have won again Lews Therin” as he dies. They arrive in Toman Head in autumn, having actually lost time due to their use of the Portal Stone.
In Falme, Fain meets with the Seanchan High Lord, Turak, claiming to be a descendant of men who kept their oaths to Artur Hawkwing. Fain gives him the chest with the Horn and dagger in it, though he is only interested in the dagger. The High Lord opens it and intends to present it to the Empress. Bayle Domon is also taken to see Turak, as one of the Seanchan, Egeanin, believes that his interest in the Age of Legends may prove interesting.
The girls head for Tar Valon, beginning lessons in the use of the Power on the journey. It becomes apparent that Nynaeve cannot channel unless she is angry, but when she does, she is very strong. Egwene starts having dreams of Rand, and one of the Aes Sedai, Anaiya, suspects she may be a Dreamer. In Tar Valon, Egwene befriends Elayne and Min, and meets Elayne’s brother, Gawyn, and their half brother, Galad, who Egwene is immediately attracted to. She also sees Logain, who looks utterly forlorn. Both Gawyn and Galad fall for Egwene. Nynaeve is raised immediately to Accepted. Passing three times through a ter’angreal that is perhaps connected to Tel’aran’rhiod, she first fights Aginor. She is then forced to abandon the Two Rivers, then Lan, in order to prove her desire to be Aes Sedai.
Liandrin comes to tell Egwene and Nynaeve that their friends are in danger and that they are both needed to help them. They agree to go with her through the Ways, bringing Elayne and Min with them. When they come out of the Ways, they are met by a group of Seanchan and it becomes apparent that Liandrin belongs to the Black Ajah. Nynaeve and Elayne escape but Egwene and Min are captured. Egwene has a collar fastened to her neck, which gives another woman total control over her. She is told she is a damane and the woman her sul’dam.
Nynaeve and Elayne stay around to try and figure a way to rescue Egwene. Nynaeve eventually discovers a way to use the Power to remove the collars; these make her angry enough to channel just by looking at them. Nynaeve arranges with Bayle Domon to take them away from the area. They release one damane and capture her sul’dam by using the collar, much to the sul’dam’s surprise. They then go to rescue Egwene.
Moiraine visits with two old Aes Sedai, Vandene and Adeleas, who she believes to know more about Dark Prophecy than anyone else. Whilst there, they are attacked by a Draghkar that is warded in some way so that Aes Sedai cannot detect it. They believe this means it was sent by one of the Black Ajah.
Mat, Rand, Perrin, Ingtar and Hurin enter Falme, to try and retrieve the dagger and the Horn, after Verin warns them that the Seanchan may sense a man channeling. They go to the house of the ruling Seanchan lord. Rand kills him, and they escape with the dagger and the Horn. Rand sees Egwene and decides he cannot leave her behind. Ingtar reveals that he is a Darkfriend, but wishes to return to the Light, and stays behind to prevent them being caught. They end up between two large armed groups: Whitecloaks, led by Geofram Bornhald and Seanchan. Mat blows the Horn to enable them to escape safely. The Heroes, led by Artur Hawkwing, appear, claiming to know Rand and telling him they need the Dragon Banner to be able to fight. Perrin raises it and the Seanchan are driven back. Rand is involved in a fight of his own, against Ba’alzamon. This duel is visible in the sky, with the pattern of their fight influencing the battle below. Eventually, Rand decides to let Ba’alzamon strike him, so that he can strike Ba’alzamon, who disappears.
Rand is severely wounded, and Min, Elayne and Egwene are drawn to him. Min keeps him warm, and is greeted by Lanfear, who tells her that Rand is hers.
Ok, this shows Jordan’s writing in top form! In the first book the characters really annoyed me on several occasions but in this book, I don’t think it happened once. Yes, they were still them, but the fingernails on chalkboard aspect wasn’t there. A big part of it is that they’re going their separate ways and aren’t in one big group, where everything gets ratcheted up annoyance-wise. I don’t think I’m going to have as much to say about this book as the previous, but here I go.
As I mentioned, the characters were much more palatable. It helps that Matt is pretty much sick and out of commission for the entire book because of not having the dagger. His obsession with getting it back makes him more focused, less mischievous and not a dick. Nynaeve isn’t a witch the entire time because she’s getting a solid dose of humility with starting her training as an Aes Sedai. I in no way advocate violence against women, but my goodness, Nynaeve makes me want to stuff a sock in her mouth and spank her til she cries. But she’s not nearly so insufferable this time around. We also get to see just how smart she is when the rescue for Egwene happens. I needed to see another side of her and thankfully Jordan provides that. I think Rand is the one who changes the most though and as the main Main Character, he needed to. He’s maturing and growing up and beginning to take on some of the responsibility that the Dragon Reborn is going to have to shoulder.
Darkfriends and the Black Ajah and the Seanchan and the Forsaken. The book starts off with a gathering of darkfriends, with hints that some extremely powerful people are part of the dark cabal. Jordan moves Darkfriends from a group of hick villagers who lust after power (like we saw in the first book) to a real Cabal of the powerful. The Black Ajah goes from being something that nobody really believes to having it shoved in our faces with the selling of the girls to the Seanchan by one of the Black Ajah. They haven’t really amped up their threat level in terms of power but have definitely made their move into the larger storyline. The Forsaken, namely Lanfear and Balzaman, show just how divided the Forsaken are, with each having their own goals alongside trying to return the Dark Lord from his prison. Finally, the Seanchan and their chained, trained and battle ready slave women who can channel. I found it almost heartbreaking to know that the descendants of this worlds version of King Arthur had turned into a stratified slave society.
The world continues to grow at a very organic pace. As our various groups of villagers go out into the greater world, they learn about the world they inhabit and we as readers are along for the ride. I think Jordan made the right choice with starting out with ignorant characters, as it doesn’t feel like we’re having information shoved down our throat. What the characters learn, we learn. It is also becoming apparent that this world does nothing but cycle through Ages. Thankfully we readers aren’t running for our lives so we have time to think about what “X” could mean AND we have several viewpoints all feeding us input. It is no wonder this series spawned a rabid fandom that thrived on speculation.
To do the whole Wheel thing, I’ll end where I began with this review. Jordan’s writing is as good as I could ask for. Not once during these 1000 pages was I bored, or confused or overwhelmed. I might not have understood everything but I was never flailing. It takes consummate skill as an author to guide your readers like that and Jordan showed a deft and masterful hand that way. I ended up giving this the Best Book of the Year tag as I enjoyed every part. I suspect several of these WoT books will get that tag this year 🙂