The Great Hunt is book 2 of 14 in The Wheel of Time series. It’s perhaps the most standalone of all the Wheel of Times books (I’ve lent it to friends who haven’t read book 1), although that’s relatively speaking. It was also for many years my favorite book in the series, but that has changed as I’ve come to appreciate some of the latter books (notably A Shadow Rising) in the context of the entire series.
The Great Hunt is aptly named. Most of the book is devoted to The Great Hunt, literally the hunt for the Horn of Valere, which is stolen early in the book. It’s great because a chase is one of the things Jordan does best. Pretty much the entire book is a huge chase (the first three books are all very chase-heavy, for that matter). Much angst is expressed over fantasy authors’ propensity to set their characters to traveling and the boredom that ensues as their travels occur. Traveling is far less boring with Jordan; it’s always a mad dash away from danger or a desperate effort to catch someone (too bad old-fashioned travel is rendered irrelevant later).
The Great Hunt features the first of Jordan’s two great “exotic” created cultures—the Seanchan (the Aiel being the other). Such a culture, likely drawn from various real world analogues but stitched together and added to in such a way they become unique, is one of the great joys of a fantasy created-world when done well, achieving the right blend of not plausibility necessarily but a realness and a foreignness. It is extremely difficult to do both, which is why it can be so special (I’ve always maintained that it is the Tsurani alone that lift Feist’s Magician above standard fantasy fare). The Seanchan are such a culture, based off Imperial China, Edo Japan, and the Persian and Ottoman empires but with exotic creatures, a cruel method of controlling channelers, and a few quirks all their own. The Great Hunt also further fleshes out Shienarian culture, one of my favorite from the Wheel of Time and with heavy analogues to generic Western European cultures and feudal Japan.
The Great Hunt also begins opening up Jordan’s incredible world to us. We learn much more about the magic of his world as Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne begin their training to become Aes Sedai. Nynaeve’s test to become Accepted and the trips by Portal Stone begin to show the serious thought on the interaction between destiny and free will so central to The Wheel of Time. Carhien is our first exposure to convoluted national politics. Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne (collectively, the Supergirls) begin having their own adventures.
Supergirls ‘It’s a Trap!’ Counter: 1
Original or new cover? New.
Original 1, New 2