Disclaimer: I started reading The Eye of the World in spring last year, but I didn’t enjoy it and I gave up about halfway through. I found it a very generic fantasy story which felt too much like poorly done Tolkien fan fiction. I also thought the pacing was very slow and parts of it were boring. So, I didn’t continue with the series. (Don’t attack me just yet, keep reading below.)
Then at the end of 2021, I started watching the Amazon Studios Wheel of Time TV Series adaptation and got pulled into the story. I know this adaptation has been getting a lot of criticism, especially by fans of the books, but I thought it was well made. I haven’t watched the final episode yet. I paused my viewing because I picked up a copy of Book 2: The Great Hunt. I wanted to give the books another chance. This time I got drawn into the story and enjoyed the second book much more than the first. I’ll watch the final episode soon then give my thoughts on the whole season. (I’ve been enjoying fellow blogger H.P.’s coverage on his blog.)
For me, The Great Hunt was a 3-star read. A Wakizashi 3-star rating means it was good and I enjoyed it; a solid story which was well written but didn’t blow me away. I’m not going to describe the plot, instead I will highlight what I enjoyed about the story. (*This may include some mild spoilers.)
Worldbuilding – While the worldbuilding in The Eye of the World felt limited, Jordan expands it well in this book. I feel like we get a better idea of some of the different settings. We spend more time at the White Tower with Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne learning more about the One Power. Their individual journeys learning how to use this power makes for a very interesting plotline. We also discover more about the Aes Sedai.
There’s a very memorable part in which Rand, Loial, and Hurin are transported to some kind of alternate world or dimension. There, everything is different and Rand comes face to face with his nemesis. We also vist the port city of Falme in Toman Head where an invading army of “Seanchan” pose an imminent threat to our heroes. The Seanchan are an intriguing addition to the world and I’m curious to learn more about them in future books.
Characters – Most of the main characters are fleshed out better in The Great Hunt. I got to the end of the book feeling like I had a clearer grasp of who they are, their personalities leaving a stronger impression than before. I’m not decided on who is my favourite character yet.
It feels like the wrong thing to say but I enjoyed the gradual deterioration of Mat as he feels the evil effects of that stolen dagger. I also appreciated the addition of the clairvoyant Min. She is a character that I want to learn more about. Loial continues to amuse me with the way he speaks. Yet Rand is still kind of flat for me. I don’t feel like he’s a “hero”, but perhaps that’s what the author was going for, this kind of division in him; which way will he go from here? He’s battling himself at times.
Action – There is a lot more action in The Great Hunt. Going back to Rand, I like the way Jordan describes his sword fighting like movements in a dance. Lan has been teaching Rand how to fight and he must put his skills to use to survive. The Trollocs return and attack again and there are a couple of encounters with the dreaded Myrddraal. There is an ongoing “hunt” to retrieve the famous Horn of Valere and we get a glimpse of its magical power near the end of the book. I enjoyed the fight between Rand and Ba’alzamon near the end
Use of Magic – We get to “see” more of the magic of this world and are given glimpses of how it is used by both women and men. “Saidar,” the female half, seems to be more gentle than “saidin,” the male half. Or perhaps it’s the way the practicioners approach it. I feel like the male half of the One Power requires more control, but I’m not sure. Please correct me if I’m mistaken. What I’m sure of is how much I like Robert Jordan’s magical system and I’m curious to know more about it.
So, overall I’m happy I have returned to the books. I enjoyed The Great Hunt so much more than The Eye of the World. I am intrigued enough to continue the series with Book 3. Isn’t it funny how the much-criticized TV adaptation has turned me back on to Jordan’s books.
*Here is a Link to a fascinating piece written about the “Rolling Up The Wheel of Time” panel held in 2008. In this panel, Brandon Sanderson talks about writing the conclusion to Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy. It’s written by Peter Ahlstrom, “erstwhile manga editor and longtime Wheel of Time fan who’s known Brandon for 10 years.” I think it’s worth a read if you are intrested in knowing more about Jordan’s plans for finishing the story. I had no idea that Jordan originally planned it as a six-book series.
Thanks for reading!
-Wakizashi, *still surprised by how much of a sweet old teddy bear Boba Fett is. Who knew? Certainly not Han Solo!*