Review: The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, book 2)

The Great HuntTitle: The Great Hunt
Author: Robert Jordan
Published: November 15, 1990
Author’s Website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jordan
Genre: Fantasy

Review:  With a double meaning, The Great Hunt is a prefect title for this book.  The Great Hunt of the Horn has been a gleeman’s tale for generations and it describes marvelous Hunters heeding Illian’s call to search the land for The Horn of Valere, fabled to call dead heroes back from the grave.  It’s an epic story that tavern goers love.

The more pertinent meaning, though, is Rand’s, Perrin, and Mat’s pursuit of Padan Fain and items he steals during a raid by Trollocs on Fal Dara during the Amyriyn Seat’s visit:  the dagger Mat took from Shadar Logoth and the Horn of Valere, recovered during the climax to The Eye of the World.  Riding along with “Lord Rand,” as many folks have taken to calling him because of the way Moraine has adjusted his wardrobe, and the group is a contingent of Shienarans including one-eyed Uno, ever-mistrusting Masema, and headed-up by Lord Ingtar, charged to recover the Horn.

Rand, Loial the Ogier, and the ‘sniffer’, Hurin, get separated from the group one night by unknowingly sleeping too near a portal stone which takes them to an alternate world.  Here, Rand rescues the unnaturally beautiful Selene who helps them get back to their world, steal back the chest with Horn and dagger from Fain, and flee to Cairhien, before disappearing.

In Cairhien, Lord Rand is drawn into Daes Dae’mar, the Game of Houses, against his will while also trying to dodge Darkfriends and Trollocs who have infiltrated the city.  Perrin, Mat, Lord Ingtar and Verin Sedai arrive in Cairhien just after Fain has retaken the dagger and Horn.  This time, though, he leaves a message telling Rand that he’ll be waiting for him on Toman Head…a land far to the west.

When the ta’veren headed off to pursue Fain from Fal Dara, Egwene and Nynaeve head to Tar Valon to begin training to become Aes Sedai.  Based on her age and ability to channel the one power a bit, Nynaeve is allowed to test and becomes Accepted shortly after arriving in the city, leaving Egwene a Novice and stuck with a roommate…who just happens to be Elayne Trakand, the daughter-heir of Andor who Rand encounter on his way though Caemlyn in The Eye of the World.  Egwene and Elayne immediately hit it off with each other, as well as with Min, another young girl visiting Tar Valon, not to become Aes Sedai, but because Moraine is interested in learning how her ability to see auras around people works.

An Aes Sedai of the red Ajah finds the women in one room and tells them they’re to go with her and not to speak to anyone about their leaving because the Black Ajah walk the halls of the White Tower.  They meet her that night and she leads them through The Ways, delivering them to the Seanchan.  Nynaeve and Elayne escape, but Min and Egwene are captured.  Egwene is immediately collared by a sul’dam to become her damane and they are taken back to Falme where Egwene learns what it means to be a ‘leashed one.’

Rand and company arrive in Falme and, thanks to Mat’s affinity to the dagger, quickly locate the Horn and dagger.  The party enters the home of a Seanchan High Lord and lay their hands on the items before being discovered by the High Lord.  Rand wins his first fight against a real blademaster and the group escapes…just as Nynaeve and Elayne put their rescue plan into action where they learn that not only can the leashed ones channel, but also the leash holders.  With Egwene and Min rescued, they head for the docks to escape by ship.

Trying to flee Falme, Rand, Perrin, and Mat decide to use the Horn to help escape the Seanchan so Mat blows it, calling forth the dead heroes of the ages to aid them.  While the battle rages, Rand finds himself facing off against the Dark One again, this time sword vs. staff, their fight displayed in the skies above.  Rand eventually allows himself to be impaled his enemy’s staff so that he can strike the killing blow.  Spurred on by Rand’s victory, the dead heroes drive the Seanchan back to the sea.

Bottom Line:  Jordan continues with great pacing and continues a pattern of splintering then reuniting the group of main characters.  We’re introduced to a couple new cities/realms and we see the Dark Ones reach getting stronger as more of his agents begin to exert influence on the main characters.  It’s another great book and pushes the plot along well.  Long live The Dragon!

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