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The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, Book 2)
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159 of 177 people found the following review helpful
on October 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I Promise: I'm going to be spoiler free.
This is the second book in the Wheel of Time (WOT) series (after Eye of the World). It is BETTER than the first one. Jordan is really finding his legs with the series. All of the tenants of excellent fantasy are here. Jordan is a great writer who builds an incredible world with a compelling history. His characters are also incredible.
Great Hunt is a great book, but be warned: as of this writing Jordan hasn't finished WOT. The Great Hunt does not stand alone, the ending is something of a cliffhanger. My guess is the end of this series isn't going to happen until 2006 (I believe there are going to be 12 books, but I don't think there's an official word).
Is it going to be worth it? I don't think so. WOT has gotten very complicated and is becoming turgid. Sometime around Book 6, the action began to crawl. Book 8 (the last one I read) was almost 700 pages and took place over three days, AND was practically missing some important characters!
I've read the first five books twice now beacuse it is too difficult to wait a year between reading books. (And he's coming out with them once every other year at this point).
My advice: Wait until Jordan's finished them all. It's best to read them one after another. By then we'll know if it was worth the wait.
You've been warned!
My grade for the series:
1. Wheel of Time: A-
2. Great Hunt: A
3. Dragon Reborn: A+
4. Shadow Rising: A+
5. Fires of Heaven: A
6. Lord of Chaos: B
7. Crown of Swords: C+
8. Path of Daggars: C
9. Winter's Heart (haven't read, waiting for Jordon to finish)
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52 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
The second book in Robert Jordan's epic "Wheel of Time" saga is another fantastic book in this series. Set in the most vivid fantasy world ever created, Jordan takes readers further into this world, weaving new plotlines, introducing new characters and growing the roles of characters first met in "The Eye of the World". This series continues to work on multiple levels, containing nuances which have clearly been missed by the few critics of this series. (Critics of this series often focus on its length, reminding one of the emporer in "Amadeus", who complained that Mozart's concert had "too many notes.")
In the first book, Rand, Perrin and Mat, 3 young men from the village of Emond's Field were forced to flee from minions of the Dark One, accompanied by Egwene, a village girl who wanted adventure, and Thom Merrilin, a gleeman who had come to the village to entertain at the village's spring festival. Guided by Moiraine, a member of the mysterious order of Aes Sedai, women who can channel "saidar", the female half of the One Power, and Lan, Moiraine's Warder, the group was soon joined by Nynaeve, the village's Wisdom, who had followed them to protect the young people from her village who had been had been swept up in an Aes Sedai "scheme". The group, minus Thom, would eventually be joined by Loial, an young member of the long-lived race of Ogier, a gentle giant of a bookworm who had left home to see the world.
One of the joys of the first book was the maturing of the characters, all of whom would change in significant ways: Perrin discovered he could talk with wolves, and now has the yellow eyes of wolf, and has also run afoul of the Whitecloaks, an intolerant military order of zealots; Mat had been uttering the Old Tongue in moments of battle & stress and was then tainted by a cursed dagger from the foul city of Shadar Logoth; Egwene discovered she had the ability to channel and now desires to become an Aes Sedai; Nynaeve learned that she could already channel, having survived what only one in four women do, channeling on her own without Aes Sedai training; Nynaeve has also fallen in love with Lan, a love he also feels, but does not believe he should return; and Rand has discovered that he is a man who can channel. Men who channel inevitably go insane, and have ever since the breaking of the world some 3,000 years ago.
"The Great Hunt" picks up shortly after the end of "The Eye of the World", with everyone in the borderland town of Fal Dara. The Amyrlin Seat, Siuan Sanche, head of the female order of Aes Sedai, arrives, purportedly to meet with the three young men from Emond's Field, all of whom are "ta'veren". A person who is "ta'veren" has a certain ability to manipulate events and chance, e.g. a leader who intends to reject a treaty might end up signing it. But the Amyrlin has arrived for reasons of her own, with plans she means to make with Moiraine.
But before any of these plans can be implemented, a sudden raid by Trollocs and Myrddraal, minions of the Dark One, results in the freeing of the peddler Padan Fain, a Darkfriend who had been altered to hunt for Rand, Perrin and Mat, and who had been further changed by following them into cursed Shadar Logoth. The raid resulted in Fain stealing Mat's tainted dagger, and the Horn of Valere, which is locked in its own box. Whoever sounds the Horn of Valere will bring forth heroes of legend who will fight for the Light against the Dark One. Or so it is believed. In truth, these heroes will fight for whoever sounds it.
Rand, Mat and Perrin, accompanied by Loial, set out to recover the Horn and Mat's cursed dagger. Mat is still linked to the dagger and it is needed for him to be fully Healed by Aes Sedai. They will be joined by Verin, an Aes Sedai who has motivations of her own. On this journey, Rand will meet a beautiful woman, Selene, who has also has motivations of her own.
Egwene and Nynaeve head to the White Tower in Tar Valon, to begin training to be Aes Sedai. They will also meet an Aes Sedai with private motivations, Liandrin. They become friends with Elayne, Daughter-Heir of Andor, and Min, a young woman capable of seeing auras around people, both of whom we briefly met in Book One.
But people who are "ta'veren" have a way of drawing to them people of whom they have need and our characters may well meet before this book is over.
In this book, readers learn the fate of Thom Merrilin, the missing gleeman; learn about the mysterious invaders called Seanchan; meet up with ship captain Bayle Doman again; learn more about the mysterious Aes Sedai; get involved with "The Game of Houses" in Cairhein; witness the plots of Darkfriends and Ba'alzamon; and meet an Aiel for the first time.
Jordan has created the most fully realized fantasy world to date, and it is a pleasure to visit again. With stong, complex characters, including numerous strong female characters, vital cultures, and skillful, intelligent word crafting, this series cannot be recommended enough.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on July 30, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
After the skill, fun, and sheer size of the first book in the Wheel of Time series, I eagerly looked forward to the second book. I won't say I was disappointed - many authors slip a little in a second book in the series - the book is nowhere near the fun, the pace, or the interest of the first book. The story: the Horn of Valere is stolen by Darkfriends, as is Mat's soul-stealing dagger. Lord Ingtar takes charge of a group of Shienar's finest in an effort to find and retreive the artifacts. Our three male heroes - Rand, Perrin, and Mat - go along with the Lancers. Meanwhile, our two female heroes - Nynaeve and Egwene - accompany the Aes Sedai witch to Tar Valon, the stronghold of the Aes Sedai, to start their training.

So, what is the problem with the book? Firstly, Jordan felt the need to "regress" his characters somewhat. One would think that the boys and girls who had crossed the world, defended the Eye of the World from the evil one, and had survived numerous battles, would have gained in maturity. And they do so throughout the first book, but their characters are back in their mid-EotW form at the beginning of the second book. Mat is childishly selfish, Egwene is wide-eyed innocent, Nynaeve is a petulant bully, etc. In fact, they stay at this stunted level of development through most of this book. The character of Nynaeve is especially hard to take - she consistently holds to ideas she has seen proven false, she tries to bully everyone into agreeing with her and vows awful revenge when they don't, etc. And yet all the characters seem to think she's wonderful, including the ageless Warder king-heir who must have better offers from scullery maids than the histrionics Nynaeve consistently offers. Yet he is supposed to be in love with her? Did I miss something?

Part of the problem is that, in an attempt to keep his splintered cast alive, he feels the need to touch base with each of the characters too often. While the meat of this book is clearly Rand's pursuit of the Horn of Valere, Jordan will jump back for a chapter here and there following the girls training in Tar Valon. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to have much reason for any of these interludes except to try and keep the characters in the story. The book would have been better served if he had followed the Tolkien route of sticking with one group of people for the long haul, then taking the other characters through the same time all at once in later chapters. It would have cut down on the annoying repetitiveness surrounding the Tar Valon chapters.

Basically, there's too much filler. When the action is humming along, and the characters are doing something, Jordan's prose shines. We are in a foreign land but we never feel like outsiders (at least, only as much as the characters) because he does so well in describing events. Each new ethnic group we meet is fully developed and unique. Carhein is a wonderfully decadent society, the Seanchan slavers are logical and terrible in the way they've developed their society, and the Whitecloaks are finally given something interesting to do (and are presented not as a spiteful nemesis force but a trans-national entity with their own goals that are simply at odds with Rand's quest). The last 150 pages are barn-burning (better than anything in Book 1) and leave the reader anxious to lay his hands on the next sequel. If the book was 200 pages shorter, it would have been a great story. As it is, it's weighed down and the filler detracts from the rest of the book, but still recommended and it was certainly good enough to convince me to stick with the series into Book 3.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Wheel of Time is probably the best-known and most widely read fantasy series other than The Lord of the Rings. There are many reasons for that:
(1) Books 1-5 of the series are non-stop action, adventure, intrigue, politics, magic, war, history and mystery wrapped together.
(2) Jordan creates believeable and often multifaceted characters.
(3) Attention to detail: from the various cultural traits of the 13 "nations" on the map (dubbed "Randland" by fans), to the commercial, political and economic interaction of the various peoples in the books to the characters and objects throughout "Randland".
(4) End-games. Jordan's at his best in the last chapters of books 1-6 and 9 when he writes of the climactic occurrences of each of those installments.
The Great Hunt, like The Eye of the World, again exhibits the best of Jordan's writing style and pacing. That is true also for books 3-5.
The Great Hunt picks up where Eye of the World left off and adds new facets to the complex plot: schisms and scheming among the sorceresses (Aes Sedai), an invasion by descendants of a long-lost conquistador exploration of lands across the ocean, introduction of the hero's jilted love interest, and exploration of more of Randland. The roles of Rand's various allies and friends are also revealed to a greater degree.
Once again, the writing is smooth, the various characters and their motivations work well, and there's action aplenty. The sense of innocence and mystery that corresponded to the heroes' relative lack of knowledge of their surroundings and the world at large in book 1 diminishes appropriately as the heroes are exposed to more of their world and the chaos therein.
The series is at 10 books (the tenth will be published late 2002 or so) and growing (13 total possible -- it's a common numerical theme in the books). The quality drops off sharply in books 6-8 before increasing slightly in book 9. You will likely enjoy the first 5 immensely, but know what you're getting into.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Wheel of Time books were introduced to me by a friend, and once I started, it was wildfire. I admit that Jordan likes to rant, he likes to put 50+ main characters in his books, he likes to stray. But unlike many of the other authors who do this, you don't really notice and most of all, you actually ENJOY it! I was enthralled by the fact you were enlighted on the training procedures of the Aes Sedai, the military strategy and downfall of the Seanchan, the prejudicial workings of the Children of the Light. I love this stuff. It makes the characters real, it gives them more structures and basis for being where they are, thinking how they do, and reacting to situations differently than the rest of them. Each page fills you with more insight than the first. I cannot wait to finish The Dragon Reborn (the next book), and will eagerly await and read anything that Jordon publishes in the future. If there is an end, I don't see it in sight any time soon. Long live these books!
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 17, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Books 2 and 3 in the series are usually the ones that fans tend to gloss over on repeat readings, because when compared to the later volumes, they're not so packed full of subplots and multiple POVs. There isn't much meat to the story - it's all plot driven. This doesn't make TGH bad; on the contrary, it makes for an exciting read. There just isn't much character development.
The first time I read TGH, I flew through it in 1 sitting, and read it again as soon as I was finished. Quite a lot happens, although most of it goes by so quickly that you have to stop and re-read a chapter or two to regain your bearings. RJ expands the formula he introduced in Book 1: split the main characters into groups, and have them join together at the end. And the ending is wonderful!
There are plenty of heros, and we're introduced to a couple of new villains. The appearance of Selene/Lanfear adds a spicy edge to Rand's confusion about his channeling abilities and his budding maturity. The Seanchan, though, start out in the series as a very impressive adversary; we are allowed to see them through several POVs: Bayle Domon, Egwene, Padan Fain. More chilling are the second-hand reports from the Whitecloaks and Hurin that describe heinous acts of cruelty and murder. The Whitecloaks may be insidious, but the Seanshan don't mess around- they get in your face post-haste.
There are a lot of impressive scenes in TGH, scenes that resonate in future books. As with the first book, this is Rand's book, and we spend a great deal of time watching him deal with the various challenges, and RJ does a good job of showing Rand mature into the role of a leader.
PLOTTING: There were essentially 2 main plot threads, with one splitting into two for half the book. Separating Rand from the others gave RJ the chance to make him an impromptu leader, as well as strengthening Perrin's wolfish abilities. The girls in Tar Valon fall into a trap so obvious that it made me want to howl. The plots all move quickly and without much preamble, although the beginning scenes in Fal Dara are slow. More importantly, the plot threads are timed better than in book 1, resulting in a clear narrative. No confusing flashbacks in TGH.
CHARACTERIZATION: When you're writing the kind of action-adventure story that inspires memories of Indiana Jones movies, character development tends to fall by the wayside. Of the 3 boys, only Rand has any significant development, as we see him gradually growing into a leader. We learn a bit more about Min and Elayne, but not enough to truly separate them from Egwene in our minds. Moiraine nearly disappears from the narrative entirely, but instead we get Verin, who seems as mysterious as her Blue counterpart. It is clear at this point that RJ has a great handle on the mental makeup of the average Aes Sedai. Of the secondary characters, Hurin stands our as a likable, loyal guide, and it's a shame that he hasn't made any subsequent appearances (yet).
PACING: After the slow beginning, which sets up the rest of the book, the narrative moves with liquid speed, without almost any clogging introspective passages of minor plot thread side trips. The suspense builds nicely, with the false climax in Cairhien a highlight, and the real climax is written with more conciseness than you'd expect from a fantasy writer.
BEST SCENE: It has to be Rand's audience with the Amyrlin. If the reader's sympathies weren't totally with Rand before that scene, they definitely were afterwards.
MOST POV: Again, as in Book 1, this is Rand's book. The title of the book refers not just to the hunt for the Horn of Valere, but Rand's hunt for his identity, his destiny. TGH begins and ends with scenes that have Rand front and center, although you have to wonder if he's better or worse off by the end.
OVERALL: TGH is a lot of fun, even though it doesn't match the complexity of the more recent books. The plotting may be a bit formulaic, but it's still better than most fantasy out there.
P.S. Sorry for my rambling on, and making the review so long. Hope it helps!
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on July 24, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I consider the Eye of the World to be more of a prelude to the Wheel of Time series and indeed can serve as a standalone novel. With The Great Hunt, the story becomes more complex as the true multiple threads begin, the Forsaken become more active, and the Seanchan arrive. Also, Rand's true ancestry is strongly hinted at for the first time, which adds new dimensions to the breadth of the storyline.
The novel maintains the fast pace of the first book, although the story isn't quite as linear anymore! It's hard to put the book down, especially as some characters' loyalties become questionable (i.e. Lord Barthanes in Cairhien and the Shienaran warrior behind the escape of Padan Fain). The ending brings the story to a satisfying close with plenty of loose ends to be tied in the next book. A great read!
I give this book a 4 not 5 because the childish behavior of some of the characters annoys more than in the first book. Aren't these people supposed to be in their 20's? Why do they act like they're 13 years old? Jordan could have portrayed the characters as innocent adults instead of stubborn kids!
And the length of time Jordan spends on some of these immature confrontations is over the top. For example, an entire two chapters or so is devoted to the three girls (Nynaeve, Elayne, Egwene) frustrating themselves in not being able to "sweet-talk" Mat into delivering a letter to Morgase, with Elayne batting her big brown eyes at Mat and Mat complaining to himself that when women are nice they want something. The failed effort at moving a "mulish man" enrages the girls and puts them in a rotten mood, from which they grudgingly decide to give Mat one of Siuan's notes of authority.
Anyway, the book is good, read it! Start with the first one, of course...
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on December 7, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I eagerly anticipated getting to this book, especially after having spent so long trying to wrap up the first in the series. It is really more the first book than "Eye....", which seemed more of a introduction into the world of Jordan. You don't even necessairily have to read the first book: the characters and their back-stories are all explained, not too great length, but enough to get a good idea. I'd suggest reading EOTW anyhow, it's a good piece of literature.
This is the continuation of th WOT series, and is basically the platform on which to set up Rand al'Thor and his future. In fact, a more appropriate title would be "The Book of Rand", since the other characters generally sit around, watching and waiting for the next move. Perrin, my favorite character, doesn't really make the kind of advancements that I would have liked, and Mat is still basically as he was at first, not quite realized, just a stock character of sorts, although he is one of the main reasons for the story to go on, and he has a good role in the ending. Nynaeve becomes a bit more likable, a bit more tolerable, and Egwene is more fully realized. Moiraine and Lan don't have much of a role here, although you do find out more about them. Also, a character comes back from the dead....
As with the first book, I have a serious bone to pick with Rand. His stubborness and his refusal to accept the truth are very irritating and somewhat nerve-wrecking. I found myself wanting to slap him on numerous occasions. He does somewhat become more enjoyable towards the end, and he has noble enough reasons for doing a lot of the things he does. A main element of the series so far seems to be the beauty of friendship, loyalty, love. Another is the conflict between good and evil.
This novel doesn't seem quite as long as the first, and I was able to complete it in a few weeks. Keep in mind, I have a LOT of free time. If you had 6-8 hours of steady reading time every day, you too could finish it in about that much time, but otherwise it could be a matter of months. The finale alone is worth sticking along with the tale for. As would be expected, the book ends, when you would like it to keep going. Fortuately, there are many more to be read, and I am going to be starting "The Dragon Reborn" very soon. All in all, it's fantastic read, and I recommend it highly.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Great Hunt," representing the second volume in Robert Jordan's apparently never-ending series "The Wheel of Time," is a great deal like its predecessor, "The Eye of World." Jordan's narrative style is the same (straightforward, linear, and utterly lacking in judgement as to what to show and what not to show), his characters are the same (resolutely refusing to change in any way, regardless of events), and the basic story elements are the same (mostly an extended chase, although in this case the heroes are the chasers rather than the chasees). As before, the imaginary world Jordan has created lives and breathes more convincingly than any of his characters, though it should be noted that this is true for most writers in this particular genre.
"The Great Hunt" does manage to improve on the first volume in several ways, however. While some of the devices Jordan employs to move his characters around seem contrived (the Waygates and Stones, for example, are little more than excuses for teleportation), he uses fewer of the "deux ex machina" escapes from hopeless situations that characterized "The Eye of the World"--though, of course, they are not eliminated entirely. The climactic meeting with the Dark One near the end of the novel seems more like an earned outcome and less like a lottery win as it did in the first book, though again, the lottery "feel" of the ending is not entirely missing. It is also in this volume that Jordan gives the first hints of how complex he can make things, and how he'll be able to stretch this series to 8+ books, with the introduction of the Seanchan, the Black Ajah, the Aielmen and other elements.
Like all writers of epic fantasy, Jordan owes an unpayable debt to Tolkien, and is half the writer besides. Still, I suppose the same could be said for this book as I said about the first one: if you go for this sort of thing routinely, you'll enjoy this book. Otherwise, this is not inspiring material, but might be worth a read, if only to experience another fully realized imaginary land.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 25, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Grave is no bar to my call." The Horn of Valere had been lost for centuries, hidden away in the Green Man's garden with the Eye of the World, a well of saidin, the male half of the One Power, untainted by the Dark One's counterstroke. It is told of in Gleeman's tales, Valere's Horn, that it would resurrect the ancient dead heroes of legend for the Last Battle, Tarmon Gaidon.
Now, after all this time, it has finally been discovered. Soon after, though, and very soon, it is stolen and now, all of existance depends upon its recovery.
In The Great Hunt, Rand Al'Thor, the Dragon Reborn battles against his own destiny and Matrim Cauthon, who will blow the Horn in the last battle has discovered his.
In this momentous epic, Jordan actually manages to surpass The Eye of the World, the first book of the series.
With four dimensional characters, a vivid vision and the most complicated plot of any story, Jordan transcends the fantastic, discovering a trale truer than any text book, a story for all stories, a legend for all time.
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