The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass. Blog posts are written; heroes are born and die and fade to legend. Those legends turn to myth when the heroes inevitably say something stupid and start a Twitter war. In one month, a month called August by some, a month that’s happening now, a month that will come again in 12 months, a blog post was started. It wasn’t the beginning…because the beginning was last month, when I made my first Wheel of Time post.
At the end of the first book, our party has gone to stay at a city in Lan’s home country, and Moiraine is pretty sure that Rand is the Dragon Reborn. One thing I didn’t mention in that post was the small fact that they found a legendary item called the Horn of Valere. The Horn of Valere is supposed to bring back legendary heroes from the Age of Legends and make them ride forth for the Dragon. The Horn is the subject of a very popular story called “The Great Hunt,” and every few years, in fact, a new great hunt occurs where people from all over the world gather to search for the horn. No one thinks they’ll find it, not really, but they all try to become famous for other things. We actually hear about a new great hunt commencing during The Eye of the World, and everyone just kinda dismisses it as a fool’s errand. Guess what this book, titled The Great Hunt, is about.
That’s right! The Horn of Valere is stolen, and our heroes have to hunt it down. The person who steals it is actually Padan Fain, the peddler from the beginning of EotW. Now, we find out that he’s a Darkfriend—and a particularly horrible one apparently. He’s being interrogated by Moiraine, and Egwene and Nynaeve also visit him a lot to try and figure out his deal, despite this being a terrible idea and literally everyone telling them not to do it.
Meanwhile, Rand is being trained by Lan to be a badass swordsman, Perrin is still brooding about his awesome superpower, and Mat is busy almost dying from his dagger. They get word that the Amyrlin Seat, the leader of all Aes Sedai, is coming to visit; she will escort them back to Tar Valon, where Mat can get healed and Egwene and Nynaeve can begin their training. When she arrives, we learn that she and Moiraine have been spinning a massive conspiracy to find the Dragon Reborn and keep him safe so that he can fight the Dark One at the final battle. If the rest of the Aes Sedai knew this, they would probably kill them.
A quick word about Aes Sedai: They are split into seven groups called Ajah. Each Ajah has a certain concentration. The Ajahs are Blue, Yellow, White, Red, Green, Gray, and Brown. So far, not all of the Ajahs’ concentrations have been spelled out, though they have been hinted at. The one that has had the most explanation is the Red, which focuses entirely on finding male channelers and gentling them. As you can imagine, Moiraine doesn’t like the Reds because they stand in the way of her plan. A lot of people don’t like the Reds actually. I’ll explain the other Ajahs as the need arises, but the Reds are important to the story of this book. There’s also rumors of a Black Ajah that works for the Dark One, but most Aes Sedai refuse to believe this and get very angry if it’s ever mentioned.
So, as you can imagine, shit goes wrong. Trollocs and Myrrdraal attack, and Padan Fain escapes with the Horn of Valere. A new Great Hunt is going to set out with Mat, Perrin, and Rand, along with a lot of soliders. There was also this really annoying subplot where Mat and Perrin get mad at Rand; he tried to Old Yeller them to keep them safe from his channeling, so he pretended to hate them. The two of them were already mad, especially Mat, because Rand’s last name—al’Vere—makes the people of Shienar think he is a lord because they denote lordship with the prefix al. It’s wacky. It doesn’t help that Moiraine only packs Rand really fancy clothing and comes up with an excuse for everyone’s clothes to be burned. Shenanigans.
This stupidity goes on way too long, mostly because of Mat, and it’s easily the most annoying part of the book. Loial, at least, gets what Rand was trying to do and keeps talking to him. Also, there’s an assassination attempt on the Amyrlin Seat right before everyone leaves, though it’s later revealed that the arrow was actually meant for Rand. This…doesn’t ever get resolved. Unless I’m forgetting. Which is entirely possible.
So now the book splits between Egwene and Nynaeve in Tar Valon and the Great Hunt. Soon after, it will further split into a third POV as Loial and Rand are whisked away into a strange dimension. Soooooooo… I’ll do this as fast as possible.
Starting with Egwene’s side: Nynaeve is risen to Accepted immediately (the second level of Aes Sedai) whereas Egwene must be a Novice. Egwene meets Elayne, the princess of Andor (which is the country that the Two Rivers is part of), who Rand had met in book 1. She also finds that another girl they had met in book 1, Min, is in Tar Valon. Min can see the future, kind of, but her ability has nothing to do with the One Power, so the Aes Sedai want to study her. This leads to my least favorite part of all the books so far: Min, Elayne, and Egwene are all in love with Rand, and they NEVER shut up about it. Seriously: every one of their chapters has to talk at great length about how in love they are with Rand and how they’re worried about what it means for their friendship. Their infatuation makes sense only because Rand is Ta’veren and twists destiny just by being alive. Other than that, their love is mostly very forced with the exception of Egwene since she’s technically kind of engaged to Rand already. I’ll come back to this a lot. It really bothers me how much they talk about it.
They spend a few chapters in Tar Valon until a Red Ajah named Liandrin tricks them into leaving the city with her because of some vague problem with Rand. It’s an obvious trap, and they’re all incredibly stupid for falling for it, but they do, and Liandrin takes them into the Ways. When they get out, they’re captured by some mysterious people called the Seanchan who put a collar on Egwene. Nyaneve and Elayne escape, and the rest of their story is them trying to save Egwene.
And then the book goes full BDSM-dom/sub mode as Elayne’s collar grants total control over her to one of the Seanchan. Turns out the Seanchan’s entire purpose is to find Aes Sedai and put these collars on them. I doubt it’s meant to be as sexual as I read it…but then maybe not. Egwene is forced to give up her name and be entirely obedient to the person who holds her leash. And only women can hold the leash. I dunno; I definitely got a sexual vibe from the whole thing.
Back the Great Hunt, the leader of the Hunt is a guy named Ingtar, and he’s super obsessed with finding the Horn in a very…foreshadowy way. He keeps saying things like “I have to find the Horn; only then will I be redeemed,” and nobody ever calls him out on it. They have with them a “Sniffer” named Hurin who can basically smell violence. He can follow Trollocs for obvious reasons. One night, everyone goes to sleep, and Rand, Loial, and Hurin wake up in a crazy silent version of the world where distance makes no sense. They’re able to travel hundreds of miles in very little time. There are glaring differences between this world and the real one, such as a giant statue of a Trolloc where in the real world there was once a statue of a human king.
While looking for a way out of this place, they meet Selene. Selene is super sexy—make-men-fight-each-other-to-the-death-for-her sexy—and obviously a baddie. I’ll save you a lot of time and obvious foreshadowing and just let you know that Selene is actually one of The Forsaken. Her real name is Lanfear, and she was in love with the original Dragon. Her whole point of being is trying to get the Dragon to fuck her. She’s not…the best character. Shit goes down, and they get out of crazy alternate world—turns out The Wheel of Time subscribes to the many worlds theory of physics, and that place was one of the many worlds where everyone had died. The group comes to what Selene says is her home, the great city of Cairhien. She immediately disappears.
The people of Cairhein also assume Rand is a great lord, and they all start trying to get him to come to their homes cus they think he’s part of a plot someone is hatching for The Game of Houses. The Game of Houses is basically the Game of Thrones: political back-stabbing and vies for power. Now. I haven’t done an actual count, but I think it’s safe to say that the phrase The Game of Houses, or one of it’s many variations, is said at least 18,000 times in the book. Oh, also, before they got to Cairhien, Rand and co. found Padan Fain and stolen back the horn and dagger… Kind of…an important plot point.
Anyway, Rand decides to lay low until Ingtar and everyone else comes to Cairhien, and during the interim, he finds Thom alive and well and living with a sexy young lady he’s training to be a Gleeman. Or Gleewoman. Apparently there’s never been a female one. Thom refuses to come with him on his journey.
So, can you imagine what happens next? Of course you can! Trollocs attack, the Horn is stolen again, and Ingtar’s company shows up about an hour later. Shenanigans! They find out the Horn was stolen by one of the Cairhien nobles, and they have to sneak into his palace to get it back. And, wouldn’t you know it, Rand just so happened to get an invitation to a party in that palace right before everything went down. Ta’veren yo! They find a portal into the Ways in the palace, but they can no longer go into them because they’re guarded by a horrible mist of madness. Instead, they go to a Stedding nearby—Loial meets a female Ogier he falls in love with; it’s adorable—which holds another portal to the crazy silent world. They know exactly where the Horn is going because of a message Padan had left Rand (also prophecy), so they use the silent world to go there. They arrive in Toman Head, the city where Egwene was captured.
So, Nynaeve can only channel when she’s super angry, and she’s been spending her time trying to find a way to break the Seanchan collars. She figures it out and mounts a thrilling rescue of Egwene. Min is there too, and she’s not collared cus she’s not Aes Sedai, which makes the Seanchan give her free reign of the slave quarters for some reason. Anyway. They rescue Egwene, and she blows some shit up with her brain. Her time in bondage has given her greater control of her powers, and she starts using them as a weapon, which is a big no-no among Aes Sedai.
At the same time, Rand et al. find out where the dagger is, and they attack one of the Seanchan nobility to get it back. Rand kills him just as all the shit with Egwene is going down. So suddenly the city is in disarray. Leashed Aes Sedai calling down lightning, Trollocs, Padan Fain—who had ingratiated himself to the Seanchan lord—kulking around, and, wouldn’t you know it, the Whitecloaks are marching on Toman Head. Rand and Co. get caught between the Seanchan and the Whitecloaks, and Ingtar reveals…he was the one who let Padan Fain go!! Yeah…didn’t see that coming. He sacrifices himself in an honestly touching scene, but the boys still haven’t escaped.
They have no way to avoid getting between the two armies, so they do the only thing they can do: Mat blows the Horn of Valere. The spirits of heroes from all throughout time show up, declare that Rand is the Dragon, and fight the two armies, decimating the shit out of them. Meanwhile, Rand has a psychedelic fight with Ba’alzamon in the sky above Toman Head and kills him again.
So now everyone knows that the Dragon is reborn, and they know what he looks like. He’s injured, and Min finds him, holding him close to her body to keep him warm. Egwene finds them that way, and Min feels bad and Egwene feels bad, and I roll my eyes because Min had literally spoken two sentences to Rand before deciding she loved him. And so the Great Hunt is finished, and Rand declares himself the Dragon.
Man. A lot of shit happens in these books. Overall, I liked this one a little more than the first one, but I still don’t love it. It was good enough to keep me reading and had some genuinely exciting moments, but a lot of it was predictable. And the love square is super annoying. And so is Mat’s jealousy. And how easily Egwene and Nyneve were tricked. Whatever. Book 2 down!
2. The Great Hunt
1. The Eye of the World
Let the Dragon Ride Again on the Winds of Time