Rereading The Great Hunt, chapters 45-46

In which Nynaeve, Elayne, and Min capture a sul’dam and discover she can be leashed, five ride forth into Falme, Mat gets distracted by a naked lady, the Horn and Dagger are recovered, Rand spots Egwene, Rand faces off with a blademaster and kills a man, Mat tests the durability of the Horn, Egwene is rescued and exposes the secret of the sul’dam, Nynaeve pronounces justice, Seanchan and Whitecloak armies muster, and Ingtar reveals a terrible secret and attempts redemption.

The climax of book 2 of The Wheel of Time has arrived!  Though maybe it is a fake climax, with the real climax to follow.  Or a small climax before the big climax.  Any time you can pull off multiple climaxes it is well received, in my experience.

In my last post I talked about Nynaeve acting the leader and brave, even her internal monologue showed her own uncertainty.  We see Rand act similarly in these chapters.

Grolm.  There was no mistaking those wedge-shaped heads with their three eyes.  They can’t be.  Perhaps he really was asleep, and this was all a nightmare.  Maybe we haven’t even left for Falme, yet.

The others stared at the beasts as they walked past the guarded house.

“What in the name of the Light are they?” Mat asked.

Hurin’s eyes seemed as big as his face.  “Lord Rand, they’re . . . Those are . . .”

“It doesn’t matter,” Rand said.  After a moment, Hurin nodded.

Rand’s initial reaction is incredulity.  But he correctly realizes it doesn’t matter.  The grolm are irrelevant to their objective.

Or maybe it does matter.  But it isn’t the matter at hand.  It is a very interesting fact for us, although not exactly a new one.  Rand, Loial, and Hurin traveled to a parallel universe where Artur Hawkwing lost the Battle of Talidar when Trollocs left the Blight in huge numbers to invade his empire.  Maybe his descendants returned (a bit earlier this time) and threw the Trollocs back with their grolm and other monsters?  The problem with that, though, is that Hawkwing didn’t even begin building the fleet that would sail to the Seanchan continent until two years after the Battle of Talidar.  Maybe Jordan was not yet clear on the timeline, or I am working off a bad timeline, or someone from Seanchan (it was heavily populated when Hawkwing’s son got there) makes their way to Randland with grolm, finding a land largely depopulated after the Trollocs turned on themselves (I have my theory about the appearance of unsustainably large armies of Trollocs, but that is a theory for another time).

Jordan returns to the juxtaposition of confident action and unconfident thought with the Supergirls.  Nynaeve pronounces harsh judgment with conviction in her voice and doubt in her head.  She also soothes Egwene, still playing the role of wisdom.  The Great Hunt is the last time she deals with the other girls on unequal terms.  The cause for Nynaeve to soothe Egwene taps another Jordan theme.  Egwene is upset after lashing out at her damane.  In Jordan’s view, causing another person pain does harm to the causer.  We should not do bad things because they hurt other people (or not just because), but because they hurt ourselves.

Rand squaring off against a blademaster and surviving to tell the tale caps the immense progress he has made as a warrior.  He was always a big, athletic guy and a deadly hand at the bow, but he becomes deadly with blade as well in this book.  If not, perhaps, quite to blademaster level.  Turak is surely the least impressive blademaster we see.  Given what we know of Seanchan society, there may not be a very level playing field when it comes to handing out heron-mark blades.  Of course Rand still has to embrace the Void to win, one of the many small steps taken out of begrudging necessity on the road to his declaration as Dragon.

The showstopper here, though, is Ingtar’s revelation and self-sacrifice.

“Rand, when Verin brought us here with the Portal Stone, I—I lived other lives.  Sometimes I held the Horn, but I never sounded it.  I tried to escape what I’d become, but I never did.  Always there was something else required of me, always something worse than the last, until I was. . . .  You were ready to give it up to save a friend.  Think not of glory.  Oh, Light, help me.”

After a time, Ingtar spoke again, firmly.  “There has to be a price, Rand.  There is always a price.  Perhaps I can pay it here.

Rand will wind up paying a price, but better that price than the other.

I need one last post to finish out The Great Hunt and will get it up before the show premieres.  Or maybe the show releases at midnight and the last reread post goes up on Friday morning.  I don’t do cocaine, so I won’t see the first three episodes of the show until I get off on Friday.  But I am planning to cut out a little early, so my recap and reaction post will go up Friday evening or Friday night.

You can find all of my reread posts at The Wheel of Time Reread Index.

About H.P.

Blogs on books at Every Day Should Be Tuesday (speculative fiction) and Hillbilly Highways (country noir and nonfiction).
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10 Responses to Rereading The Great Hunt, chapters 45-46

  1. Bookstooge says:

    I’m not sure if I’ll be working friday or not myself. They’ve given it off, unpaid, the last 2 years so I’m hoping precedent has been set. Of course, they might not JUST to unset precedent 😦

    Either way, I’ll be looking forward to what you think of the show.

    Liked by 1 person

    • H.P. says:

      Now I’m hearing that the show could drop as early as 7pm ET today. So maybe I shouldn’t go see the latest Bond movie after all. 7pm I can do; midnight not so much.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bookstooge says:

        I can’t believe it’s releasing tomorrow. I thought it wasn’t until Thanksgiving.
        I did find out at work that we’re getting the friday after thanksgiving off so I’ll probably binge on it for that 4day weekend.

        I can’t remember the last time I even saw midnight on my clock. I can’t do it and get up at 5am any more….

        Liked by 1 person

        • H.P. says:

          I thought it was a little weird, you talking about getting THIS Friday off. I will be in Texas with my wife’s family. I might have to convince at least one of them to binge all four.

          5am is earlier than I need to get up, but Daylight Savings Time and some back pain have been getting me up early and giving me extra incentive to get down at a reasonable hour.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Andreas says:

    Those last few chapters are always on steroids, contrasting the low tension in the rest of the book. That’s a recurring pattern which was broken in TSR.
    Rand as blademaster felt a bit unnatural for me, because from one or two months of sword training from Lan, you cannot get the muscle memory needed for that level. I always thought that Lews Therin helped him a lot there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • H.P. says:

      He has the natural ability – a big, strong, fast guy – and the Void helps a lot in this world, but I’ve come around to that view, too, that it was Lews Therin bleeding through that helps him progress so fast. And I don’t think he is really up to that level yet here, Turak’s status was probably undeserved.

      I am surprised going back to them how long it takes things to really get cranking. Man, it takes FOREVER for them to leave Tear in TSR. I notice it more now because I intentionally pace myself reading and because I have less time to read. 25 years ago I would absolutely plow through these books. Jordan’s writing is so easy to read, and real setup and development is happening, that it doesn’t bother me, then or now, but it probably help advance a bad trend of big books with huge swathes where basically nothing happens.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Andreas says:

        I’ve just started re-reading Fires of Heaven. First 10% are recap mostly. The pattern is always the same: stay in the place where they left for some 25% of the next book. Do a lot of inn visits. Dawdle around. Then break your neck in the high velocity of the last 20%.
        As I said, TSR was way better, but FoH already returns to that pattern 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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