The Great Hunt. (Wheel of Time #2) Robert Jordan. 1991. 705 pages. [Source: Bought]
First sentence: The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass leaving memories that become legend, then fade to myth, and are long forgot when that Age comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Dhoom. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
The Great Hunt is the second book in the Wheel of Time series. It definitely has a different "feel" than the first book in the series, in my opinion. It stops feeling like flattery--an adoring fan of Tolkien writing his own love song to the epic quest genre--and begins to feel like its own unique story. Or more so. Perhaps each book takes us a step or two further away from being fan fiction to Lord of the Rings.
So it is titled The Great Hunt. So expect the questing to turns more towards HUNTING. And the mission this go around is to recover and find THE HORN OF VALERE. The horn is legendary and is linked--supposedly--to the "Last Battle." It was stolen--along with a dagger--and the two must be found. The dagger is less legendary perhaps--though equally dark and shadowy--its worth is of great importance to Rand, Mat, and Perrin (our three heroes) because one of their lives depends on the finding of it. (If you've read the first book, you know which of the three it is.)
Our three heroes, Rand, Mat, and Perrin are joined on their quest with some old friends (like Loial whom I love, love, love and adore) and new faces (like Ingtar, Hurin, and Verin). It will prove a daunting journey.
While half of our characters are out looking for the Horn (and the dagger), our other characters are continuing on with their own life goals. Nynaeve and Egwene travel to Tar Valon and begin their study to become Aes Sedai. They are joined by Min and Elayne. The four form a friendship of sorts. Particularly Min, Elayne, and Egwene. Min has a strong feeling that their fates are all twisted twisted up with Rand's for better or worse.
You might think they have an easier time. What dangers could they possibly face that would endanger their lives--especially compared to the dangers the guys are facing hunting for the Horn. But you'd be wrong. Readers finally, finally get a glimpse of the Aes Sedai in The Great Hunt. (Widening our perspective from just knowing Moiraine). These heroines end up IN VERY GREAT DANGER.
Some of the most intense scenes--in my opinion--involve the human trafficking of young girls and women. Those being targeted are those who can--in varying degrees--channel. And they are being captured, put in bondage, tortured, and shipped out to a foreign country. I'm sure there's a greater scheme at play, but I'm not sure it's out and out stated why the lands--both cities and rural areas--are being searched to find young girls/women to steal.
There are two other side stories introduced (or further built upon as the case may be). Occasionally the action will turn from our heroes and heroines altogether and shift focus. We spend time with some Children of the Light (the White Cloaks) OR learning more about the Seanchan. I'll be honest, it just feels ODD to suddenly start reading a chapter where you don't know ANY of the characters and how it relates to the greater whole. But by the end it was beginning to make a wee bit of sense.
The overall 'big picture' of this one is simple: Will Rand step forward and accept the fate the Pattern has written for him or will he run away--far and fast--and try to escape his fate? Will he accept the fact that he is indeed THE DRAGON of legend REBORN.
I have read the first book in the series The Eye of the World three times. This is my first time to reread The Great Hunt. When I read it the first time--for whatever reason--I rated it four stars--really???? I would definitely raise the stars to five upon rereading.
I do wish it had more Lan.
"You wish everything could be the way it was, sheepherder? Or you wish the girl would go with you instead of to Tar Valon? You think she'll give up becoming an Aes Sedai for a life of wandering? With you? If you put it to her in the right way, she might. Love is an odd thing." Lan sounded suddenly weary. "As odd a thing there is." (8)
Loial was watching them dice, rubbing his chin thoughtfully with a finger thicker than a big man's thumb, his head almost reaching the rafters nearly two spans up. None of the dicers gave him a glance. Ogier were not exactly common in the Borderlands or anywhere else, but they were known and accepted here, and Loial had been in Fal Dara long enough to excite little comment. The Ogier's dark, stiff-collared tunic was buttoned up to his neck and flared below the waist over his high boots, and one of the big pockets bulged and sagged with the weight of something. Books, if Rand knew him. Even watching men gamble, Loial would not be far from a book. (30)
"My mother," she said firmly, "always told me the best way to learn to deal with a man was to learn to ride a mule. She said they have about equal brains most of the time. Sometimes the mule is smarter." (35) (Egwene)
She thinks only of the knowledge, Moiraine thought wonderingly. The culmination of the direst prophecy the world knows, perhaps the end of the world, and she cares about the knowledge. But she is still dangerous for that. (110)
"There is one rule, above all others, for being a man. Whatever comes, face it on your feet." (119) (Lan)
"I never said--" he took a deep breath. "I told you I had nothing to offer for brideprice but widow's clothes. Not a gift any man could give a woman. Not a man who can call himself a man."
"I understand," she said coolly. "In any case, a king does not give gifts to village women. And this village woman would not take them. Have you seen Rand? I need to talk to him. He was to see the Amyrlin. Do you know what she wanted with him?"
His eyes blazed like blue ice in the sun. She stiffened her legs to keep from stepping back, and met him glare for glare.
"The Dark One take Rand al'Thor and the Amyrlin Seat both," he grated, pressing something into her hand. "I will make you a gift and you will take it if I have to chain it around your neck."
She pulled her eyes away from his. He had a stare like a blue-eyed hawk when he was angry. In her hand was a signet ring, heavy gold and worn with age, almost large enough for both her thumbs to fit through. On it, a crane flew above a lance and a crown, all carefully wrought in detail. Her breath caught. The ring of Malkieri kings. Forgetting to glare, she lifted her face. "I cannot take this, Lan."
He shrugged in an offhand way. "It is nothing. Old, and useless, now. But there are those who would know it when they saw it. Show that, and you will have guestright, and help if you need it, from any lord in the Borderlands. Show it to a Warder, and he will give you aid, or carry a message to me. Send it to me, or a message marked with it, and I will come to you, without delay and without fail. this I swear." (135)
Loial grinned, and his ears stood up. He moved his horse closer. "I say things I should not all the time. The Elders always said I spoke an hour before I thought." (146)
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