I think the idea will be to update you guys as I continue reading the Wheel of Time this year rather than doing full exhaustive reviews for each entry. First of all- here is the video of me chatting about WoT and A Monster Calls(which there is also a mini review of up here on the blog).
What follows is a reflection on WoT book 2-a spoiler free portion followed by some spoiler filled reflections.
The Great Hunt is a five star continuation of the series. Jordan picks up right where he left off. Rand is paralyzed by fear of what might be and wrong about what has been. He’s dealing with the weight of the world slowly being heaped upon his shoulders and this book delivers a really compelling exploration of that ‘denial’ portion of the hero’s journey. It also does it in such a compelling way that this book is a relatively ‘fast’ read for an epic fantasy and delivers a nail biting ending.
I think when I first read this book I kind of just wanted Rand to face the music a little sooner, but this go I really just relished the slow burn of him grappling with fate. This series is 14 books long so there’s no reason to rush, but there should also be meaningful progress as well. And the series isn’t just about Rand either. We must have progress on multiple fronts for this to be worth it. That meaningful progress necessarily takes on lots of different forms as we get a more diverse perspective of the story both in terms of character and location. If you liked the first book but were unsure if you should commit any further I say The Great Hunt feels like a good barometer to test whether or not you are willing to invest more in the characters and the world. Jordan delivers on that character development so well, that for me, that question gets a resounding yes.
You Are My Lucky Star
I think the stars of this book are Perrin and Nynavae. Perrin further developing and wrestling with his powers is a great way to explore his character. Perrin always feels a little big and awkward, but his wolf side is instinctual and unashamed. Seeing him begin to take ownership of that is really compelling.
Nynavae’s test in the ter’angreal to be an Accepted is perfectly delivered. We can’t view Nynavae as some kind of controlling or overbearing mother figure once we see into her heart with the clarity offered during her test. Her struggle is emblematic of the struggles our other characters are facing(that conflict between who they thought they were and who they are becoming) but it’s so important this happen before our eyes for her. It humanizes her and it colors how we see her even through the eyes of others going forward.
World Building Gets Taller
It’s important for a series of this length to really showcase new portions of the world, the magic, the setting, the cultures in each volume. I think the highlight of those features in this volume is the Seanchan and their chained Aes Sedai. Egwene wearing the collar is simulatenously my favorite and most hated portion of this book. It’s powerful to see Egwene struggle against her free will being stripped from her but it’s also really painful. She comes out the other side of it a different person and we’re still unsure at the end of this book how different she’ll be. I’m really happy with how Jordan introduced this concept, made it personal, and then got Egwene out of it before the end. Nicely done.
The Wheel of Time Turns…
I finished this book in 8 days. I took a breath or two and decided that the only book I wanted to read was The Dragon Reborn. Really liking it in the first two hundred pages. There’s a definite weight to most everything now and the temperature is turned up on all our characters. I’ll have more thoughts next week along with the review for Miranda and Caliban!