The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

We, mortal human beings, have inhibitions, and one of my personal inhibitions is not to read fantasy, but when you live in an ever-expanding world of books and an ever-shrinking actual world, some of our constraints should be overcome and new horizons are eventually open. As a result of this new adventure, two novels of the famous and iconic epic fantasy saga, ‘The Wheel Of Time’ were read back to back. What’s more, while book one took more than two months to read, the second novel in the series took only two weeks. Now it is time for a fantasy neophyte to review and compartmentalize the pile of diverse thoughts about this high fantasy opus. Mainly, this review is about the second book of the series, The Great Hunt (Wheel of Time, #2) , but they are so intrinsically connected that readers of this review will find numerous references to the first novel.

The first novel ends with the indefinite finiteness – the main character claims that he has vanquished the shadowy character of the Dark One, but the only connoisseur readers are familiar with, Moiraine, is non-committal and neither denies nor confirms his statement. This sets a scene for the next book, and it starts with the bang. It is definitively a gruesome beginning with very gory scenes. It is as if Jordan is sending a clear message – you might have been mistaken about the target audience in the first novel because the level of violence was minimal and non-descriptive, but this book, though fantasy, is not a fairy-tale for children and sensitive souls. It is a world where violence might rule and death can be a very distinct and painful possibility. It is also a world where everything is shrouded in mystery, prophesies, hints, uncertainties. The precious Horn of Valere with the feature of calling back the past heroes to battles is stolen, and the game is afoot.

Jordan is using the move he has already used in his first novel – he splits his characters into groups, and the adventure begins. Then he splits them even into smaller groups; thus, the challenges become more personal and more daunting, and the atmosphere is nearly palpable. This time the division is gender specific. Mat, Perrin, Rand and the military ilk of Fal Dara are tracing and hunting while the novices are struggling with their new lives in Tar Valon. This separation is only short-lived. Eventually, the plot lines converge, and characters meet for s short while and then split again. I think Jordan is literally trying to show how the Wheel of Time weaves, uniting and separating people into intricate and quaint patterns called Life.

Some of the moves and characters in this novel are quite genre specific, but a good novel is a good novel regardless its genre, and this one is a solid book. I personally like how the perspective of the world changes in the second novel. If the first novel is a story of a personal discovery and basic survival, a certain maturity initiation rite, where characters are very self-centered and introverted, and it seems that the world is only in them and around them, the second novel offers a broader panorama with different kingdoms, traditions, games, secrets. The world is unfolding, and I am sure the subsequent novels in the series will offer even more amazing discoveries. The world is not about the Two River folks any more; it is expanding in front of our eyes. Its expansion is not geographical, it is surprisingly scientific as well. I believe Jordan’s degree in physics helped him to come up with the ideas of the Ways (wormholes) and parallel worlds with stones as portals where the fabric of time and space is distorted. As a hard-core sci-fi aficionado, I can only welcome it.

I also enjoyed a social commentary in the novel. Most of you will possibly consider this superficial and not worth mentioning, but the concepts of ‘damane’ and ‘sul’dam’ are the very symbols of slavery. On a personal level, it makes me happy that Jordan is very categorical about slavery – it is dehumanizing, destructive, disgusting, and repulsive. On the other hand, the two traditional binding concepts of high fantasy, loyalty and oath, are glamorized and glorified. All in all, I actually toyed with the idea of reading the third novel immediately, but decided that a short break will make this reading experience more delectable in future. The Wheel Of Time series, here I come!



Filed under Book Review, fantasy

7 responses to “The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan

  1. Lisa Moore

    I am so glad to see you reading these! I have read about halfway through the series and would love to read your commentary. This review is excellent and does well to encapsulate thoughts I had and couldn’t express. Read on!

  2. You got a long way to go. 14 books. I read them all and enjoyed them. But I’ll never read them again. I concur about the physics and the portals. I thought the same thing when I was reading it.

  3. The WoT series is one that I have attached to from day one. I have read each volume in the series 3-4 times with the exception of the last book which I read shortly after it came out. I view it as an American mythology, much as Tolkien’s Middle Earth can be viewed as a British mythology. I think you’ve got it right about Jordan’s social commentary that is woven throughout the entire tale. Have fun making your way through it all.

    • I am currently reading books three, and although it is enjoyable when it comes to exposition and descriptions, actionwise it is very slow. I think it is attributable to the fact that he split the narration into 4 lines. I know it is only the early stage of the story, but I have a suspicion that he deliberately started to slow down because of some contractual obligations. It is one of modern fantasy land-marks – books should be at least 6oo pages …My husband is currently listening to book 13, but when he was listening to book 10, he was very frustrated – there is no action. And this is not a small book
      I am sure I will read more books in the series because it is an iconic fantasy series, but honestly literary fiction is my favorite reading material.

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