on October 15, 2002
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)
on November 29, 2000
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.
on July 30, 2005
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.
on April 15, 2002
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.
on December 2, 1999
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!
on July 13, 2015
At first I thought I'd just read the first book in the series to satisfy my curiosity. After all, I'd heard about the "Wheel of Time" for quite a while. I had mixed feelings about Book One, but, after reading Book Two I'm getting into the story more. Character development is critical to my enjoyment of a story -- especially one so long as the WOT. I'm pleased to report that even though many of them remain sketchy, Jordan is certainly developing the characters more. Further, many of Jordan's characters start out young and naive. Through the course of the story, those characters grow up. I like that.
Finally, I think the writing is consistently good. Occasionally, Jordan will come up w/ a phrase or a description that is elegant and striking. Those gems are worth noticing.
I have read some reviews that criticize this series as being too derivative of the "Lord of the Rings," and I think I understand that complaint. I do see similarities, and some of them are unfortunate. At the same time, the concept of an epic battle between Good and Evil transcends the LOTR, so it seems a bit unrealistic to write this series off because of places where the WOT veers a bit closer than I'd like.
In particular, I think Jordan's main characters are quite distinct from Tolkien's. And more to the point, the battle in WOT is between the Hero and the Face of Evil (capitalized here because they represent archetypes). OTOH, in the LOTR, the main thread of the story focuses on the destruction of an artifact. So, at this point at least, I see more than enough distinction between the stories to hold my interest.
So I guess I'll give Book Three a try.
on July 17, 2002
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!
on December 7, 2001
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.
on October 12, 2013
First of all, forgive me if I spell the names of characters or places wrong for this review. If you notice that I've done this, please just leave a comment pointing it out so I can correct it instead of raging on me. Thank you.
So I was reading The Great Hunt, bored out of my mind, frustrated with the characters, uninterested in the world, and angry about how many pointless sub plots there were when a strange thing happened. Suddenly, as if out of nowhere, I started becoming invested in the characters. I grew worried about them, tension built inside me until I was gripping my kindle and I was unable to put the book down. Let me put this bluntly for all the Wheelers out there who proclaim The Wheel of Time to be on par, or heavens forbid better, then The Lord of the Rings or A Song of Ice and Fire. The first 3/4ths of this book are a long, boring, tension less bore. Its chock full of plots and subplots that go absolutely nowhere, its main character is flat and one note, and it goes on and on about things I as a reader cared nothing about. Almost the entire way through this book I was at best mildly entertained, and at worst unbelievably frustrated. But how can you blame me, when the book takes FOREVER to begin. For the first hundred pages or so all we have is exposition and female characters talking about how stupid the men are and how they need to house break us. "Oh very well. The best men are not much better then housebroken." Gah! I just want to tear my hair out when I read stuff like this.
Coming off his miraculous victory over the Dark One and the discovery of an ancient and powerful horn vital to the final defeat of evil, Rand and company need to now deal with the fact that he is a man to can channel the One Power, and therefor is destined to go mad and die of a terrible wasting disease. But his triumph over evil is short lived as the Horn is stolen. Rand, along with the male half of his fellowship Mat and Perrin, join Lord Ingtar and his soldiers as they ride from Sheinar to find the Horn. Meanwhile Egwen and Nynaeve begin their journey to the White Tower in Tar Valon to learn to become Aes Seadi. The story pretty much picks up immediately following the conclusion of The Eye of the World and keeps the same tone and pacing of the first book. If you loved the first one, the second book will only appeal to you more, but if you're like me and had major problems with the first then this book will no doubt frustrate you just as much.
So, bare with me, as I have to dump my rage first before getting to what's great about this story. The Wheel of Time is not a perfect fantasy. Not even close. Its problems are many and they are severe. Through most of the first book, and almost all of the second, there is a lack of tension or personal conflict for most of these characters. Despite all the Trollocs and Darkfriends in the world being thrown at the characters I never felt like any of them were in any real danger. This was a problem in the first book, as anytime the characters were in a pickle Moraine would wield her magic wand and poof!! it would all go away. Fire would rain from the sky, the ground would open up, she would pull a Daus Ex Machina out of her back pocket and all the characters would be A okay. Though we don't have Moraine running around saving everyone in this book, this does little to rack up the tension for our characters, at least for the boring first 3/4ths of the novel. See, you can't just throw hordes of enemies and magical elements at a character and expect readers to feel tension especially if the threat isn't really explained or the stakes presented in concrete terms. Throughout there is little real danger to the characters, so there's little tension, and so I lost interest. For example, for a very large swath of the book our hero is forced to play politics in a strange city where everyone assumes he's some kind of lord. However interesting I find politics, the "Game of Houses" he's forced to play goes on far too long and ultimately does nothing to advance the story. SPOILER: Rand finds the Horn, he hides it for a while, it gets stolen again, story resumes. The political intrigue just serves as a sideshow with no real purpose. The whole subplot with the Game could have been avoided entirely, but Jordan has a bad habit of dumping locations on us in order to show off his world instead of letting us experience it naturally.
Our hero Rand is tossed around like a leaf from a tree from one location to another, from one set of characters to another, as if Jordan wanted to introduce us to characters and didn't really know how to do it and so resorts to inventing teleportation which magically allows him to solve all his problems. In The Lords of the Rings Tolkien had to write about a cohesive journey from the Shire to Mordor; in Wheel of Time, Jordan just teleports them. Convenient; and cheap. The biggest problem, however, is that little of this is interesting. His side quest with the Game of Houses is completely unnecessary and only serves to set up the NEXT book, but does little to enhance the enjoyment of this one. Not to mention Martins Game of Thrones makes the Game of Houses look like children fighting at the kiddy table. Leave the political intrigue to Cersi and Tyrion, they do it much better. Rand's story doesn't really go anywhere until near the end after reading through hundreds of pages of text before it finally pays off. We also get a fine little sub plot involving a leader of the Children of Light, which was VERY interesting but lasted all of a couple chapters. In fact, if I were to be honest, the most interesting parts of this novel are the parts where Rand is nowhere to be found. The sub plots with Moraine, Egwene, Nynaeve, and the Children had some of the best moments in the entire story whereas Rand's were just a boring chore to get through. What's more his two friends, Mat and Perrin who were favorites of mine during the first book, are regulated to side characters making snarky remarks. Mat's role in the story is to look sick, while Perrin's role consists of a lot of looking down. Mat's no longer a smart ass, Perrin is no longer a bad ass, and Rand is just as much a whiny idiot as he was before.
So after saying all that, how could I give this book anything but a negative review? Well, simply put, because the parts of this book that were good were really, really good. Insanely good, in fact. In the far west of the world, along the coast of the Aryth Ocean, a new enemy has arrived from across the seas known as the Seanchan riding on the backs of monsters and leading slave Aes Seadi on leashes like dogs. No amount of resistance can stop them in their quest to retake the lands in the name of their ancient king. None can stand against them, even the mighty Aes Seadi are brought low by their power. See, it's not the thousands of Trollocs, Fades, or Darkfriends that are frightening in this tale. They're just cliché generic bad guys no more fearful then the average Orc or Goblin. But the Seanchan now, they're freaking terrifying. And it's not just their sheer military might which makes them so frightening, no, but their arrogant, totalitarian society which places no value in human life or decency. I realize the servants of the Dark One are much the same, but never in this book or the last did their actions reach the heights of unimaginable cruelty those of the Seanchan did. I cannot think of a more horrible fate a human being could possibly suffer then to become a slave Aes Seadi, or a Damane as they are called, at the mercy of Seanchan masters. I would rather be skinned alive by a Trolloc or drop the soap in a Fade prison then be subjected to the torture and degradation some of these characters are subjected to. Finally, we get to see some real vulnerability, some real no kidding danger they need to find their own way out of with no magical Aes Seadi or unstoppable Warden to get them out. And for the first time in two books, I actually felt fear for the wellbeing of these characters that good fiction is supposed to evoke. Funny how characters being laid bare and vulnerable will do that for a story.
Another example of this would be Nynaeve's test to become one of the Accepted. In order to do this she muster enter a magical instrument which forces her to face her deepest, darkest fears three times. Never before have we seen a moment of such tenderness, such vulnerability, such insight into a character who's only character trait thus far was being angry and feminist. Such an insightful look into the mind of a character so universally hated (at least by me) was so well written and so unexpected I almost brushed it off as a fluke. Shirley a writer whose brought me nothing but unemotional and tensionless "drama" couldn't possibly have meant to deliver something as heart felt as that. "No way," said I, "he couldn't possibly do that again."
But here's the thing; he did. Oh good lord, he did, and it was one of the most amazing moments in fantasy I've ever read. Nynaeve and Egwene disappeared for most of the story, not that I missed them very much, as their overly feminist "I'm better then you" attitude towards men hadn't faded at all since the first book. But once they came back and became an important part of the story again, and their subplot fell in line with the Seanchan subplot, well, let's just say I've not gripped my kindle so much since the ending of Dance with Dragons. Where before it took me weeks to read only a few chapters, the last couple hundred pages or so flew by in only a couple nights. I sincerely hope this carries on to the third book.
The Wheel of Time, at least thus far, is not a great fantasy, though on occasion it shows sparks of greatness. It's no Song of Ice and Fire, and it certainly no Lord of the Rings, but it doesn't have to be to be a good read. It's well written even if its pacing is a bit slow, the world can be interesting at times though Jordan throws too much lore at us without giving us time to take it all in, and some of its characters can be quite interesting though the females are still very annoying. But for all my gripes and complaints I can't deny that I was riveted by the end of the story, and couldn't wait to get my hands on the third book. It may not be The Lord of the Rings yet, but of Jordan built on the momentum coming off the amazing ending for The Great Hunt, it might very well come close.
on March 2, 2016
If you’ve read a few reviews by me you might know that I’m a huge fan of Brandon Sanderson. This is one reason that 2016 is the year of the Wheel for me since Sanderson finished out this series. As I move along in this series I can see how BS got some of his roots from Jordan. They distinctively have different voices to be sure but one of the reasons I’m enjoying The Wheel of Time series is because of the intricate world building that is going on and the layers that are being set up.
This book is over twenty years old but you can’t really tell and that is one of the coolest things about fantasy is they can stand up to the test of time since there is an entire new world in every single one and so it never really feels dated.
The Eye of the World reminded me of The Lord of the Rings in quite a few ways and while for the most part The Great Hunt is moving away from that feeling there is still one part that very much reminded me of Tolkien. The Great Hunt is all about the Horn of Valere. Whoever blows the horn calls an army of dead heroes to fight with them….I’m pretty sure I saw that somewhere else like the army of the dead in LotRs, but that is about the only thing that really reminded me of LotRs this time around.
The world continues to get a little bigger for our group from The Two Rivers. There are new people, customs, places and danger seems to be EVERYWHERE. It seems that most of the book is about Rand since he seems to be the very reluctant and ridiculously stubborn hero. Temptations abound as various characters try to pull him into their machinations including a new beautiful woman Selene. I hated her immediately and seriously why does every woman (except Nynaeve of course) need to be in love with Rand??? Why can’t Perrin or Mat find someone interested in them??? I was sure I knew who she really was from the beginning and that can be nothing but trouble for Rand so I hope all the stubbornness pays off in the end.
Rand struggles with the fate that keeps calling him. He is so hell bent on going the opposite direction the Aes Sadai wants him to go he is easy to manipulate.
***“I have purposely let him think I no longer have any interest in him, that he may go where he pleases for all of me.” She raised her hands as the Amyrlin opened her mouth. “It was necessary, Siuan. Rand al’Thor was raised in the Two Rivers, where Manetheren’s stubborn blood flows in every vein, and his own blood is like rock beside clay compared to Manetheren’s. He must be handled gently, or he will bolt in any direction but the one we want.”***
All the people from the Two Rivers seem to be incredibly naïve, except Nynaeve and I can’t help but yell at them sometimes in my head for the choices they make.
While Rand’s Journey was pretty interesting especially to the final showdown in the book I liked learning about the rituals and training of the Aes Sadai more. Nynaeve and Egwene’s time at the white tower and after was probably the most interesting part of the story for me. Learning what trials Nynaeve had to go through for part of her training was so intense and actually a little heartbreaking.
***“I do not know what is happening, Nynaeve, but I feel as if I were losing you. I could not bear that.” He put a hand in her hair; closing her eyes, she pressed her cheek against his fingers. “Stay with me, always.”***
But the run in with the Seanchan and learning what they do with women who can channel was the most horrible and intense thing in the book for me. Egwene and Nynaeve have come far from where they started out and I’m very interested in seeing what becomes of them as the books continue.
Best side character for me is Loial. The Ogier is a great addition and I really enjoyed going into another stedding and meeting a few other Ogier. Plus could it be that Loial might have a crush. If that wasn’t the cutest thing ever I don’t know what it.
~~~~A few issues I had~~~~~
They are really silly but I find this with quite a few older high fantasy novels. People know each other for a few pages and BOOM they are in love or speaking of marriage and such. Lan and Nynaeve are a good example of this. I like that they have this longing and forbidden romance of sorts happening between them. I’m a girl and I really like a little romance with my fantasy but I also like a little build up. Still at least there is a little bit on the romance side of life and I am rooting for them even though there wasn’t much build up.
***“I must go now, Nynaeve mashiara. The Amyrlin wishes to leave before midday, and there is much yet to be done. Perhaps we will have time to talk on the journey to Tar Valon.” He turned and was gone, striding down the hall. Nynaeve touched her cheek. She could still feel where he had touched her. Mashiara. Beloved of heart and soul, it meant, but a love lost, too. Lost beyond regaining.***
The other issue I sometimes have is that it seems like every core member suffers from what my friend Gavin coined quite well Two Rivers Idiocy. At some key moment in the book one of the crew from The Two Rivers will do something that is completely stupid. ’Hey we need to sneak out of here under no circumstances use magic. Two paragraphs later: ’Draws in all the magic to use it. *sigh*.
~~~~~~ Overall ~~~~~
This is good Epic High Fantasy. Sure there are smaller stories arcs being told but there are prophecies to be confronted and evil to destroy. There are epic journeys that need to be taken and bad guys all over the place, some of them even think they are the good guys White Cloaks I’m looking at you.
If you enjoy epic journeys then this series seems to be exactly what you are looking for. Plus good news is that it is finished no waiting years between books.
Audio Note: Kate Reading and Michael Kramer (who also do The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson *wink, wink*) are fantastic. This is very well performed if you are a fan of audio.