In the first Wheel of Time book, The Eye of the World, five young adults set out from a tiny village with thoughts of adventure dancing in their heads. They quickly find out that real adventures are a lot less glamorous than the songs that are sung about them. Real adventures are cold, messy, boring, and terrifying all at the same time. By the end of The Eye of the World Egwene, Nynaeve, Rand, Perrin, and Mat are all changed. But The Wheel isn’t done with them yet. See where the pattern takes them next in The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan.
[Warning: My review of The Wheel of Time Book Two: The Great Hunt contains some spoilers!]
A lot of growing up in The Wheel of Time’s The Great Hunt
When Rand, Mat, Perrin, Egwene, and Nynaeve left Two Rivers they were essentially still kids. I suppose both the girls were considered women by the village but they were very naive about life still. Now in The Great Hunt, they’ve grown up. All of them have been changed by the adventures they’ve had. But their journeys are far from over. The Horn of Valere has been found, the Dark One has been banished (maybe), and Two Rivers heroes are taking a little break at Fal Dara before they go their separate ways. Egwene, Nynaeve, and Mat are going to Tar Valon. Perrin may follow or he may go home. And Rand is planning on leaving and going somewhere far away from everyone.
But before he can go, the Amyrlin Seat shows up at Fal Dara. Rand is terrified that his secret will be discovered. Then Fal Dara is attacked by trollocs and myrddraals! The Horn of Valere is stolen, along with Mat’s dagger! Both must be recovered, now. A hunting party is assembled to track the retreating enemy. Mat must follow the dagger or die. Perrin of course wants to help his friend. So does Rand. So even though Rand is terrified of accidentally hurting someone he joins those searching for the horn, hoping to still keep his secret from everyone.
Meanwhile, the women decide to return to Tar Valon, with the Amyrlin Seat when she departs Fal Dara. Egwene and Nynaeve are given lessons along the way. Egwene is eager to please but Nynaeve fights both the instructions and her instructors at every step. Even though she doesn’t say it out loud, it’s obvious that the only reason she even wants to go to Tar Valon is to try and hurt the Aes Sedai with their own power.
The Great Hunt splits the friends up again
Just like in The Eye of the World, there are a lot of characters in The Great Hunt. Robert Jordan solves this problem by splitting up the characters into smaller, more manageable groups. First, he splits up the boys and girls. Then he separates Moiraine and Lan from Egwene and Nynaeve. Then Egwene and Nynaeve get separated from each other! Rand also breaks off from Perrin and Mat for a little side adventure. Each of these separations allows the characters space to grow and mature. It’s an easy way to allow room for character development with such a large cast. Jordan uses it to great effect in both books.
I imagine that he’ll continue to have the character group come together and break apart over and over throughout the series to give each character a chance to shine and grow. Different configurations of characters will create different dynamics for the groups. This will force the characters to really stretch out and become full, complete people as the adventure continues in the next few books.
Rand is the main focus now
Robert Jordan spends time with all of the characters in The Great Hunt but there is no doubt that Rand has taken on the true title of “main character”. With the revelation that he is the Dragon Reborn and is destined to fight the Dark One and destroy the world, the rest of the characters fall away just a little.
Sure they’re still important and they all get time to be the main focus for a least a few pages (or chapters). Egwene and Nynaeve are still taking up a lot of pages with their adventures. And they even manage to meet a couple more girls and add them to the party. I’m pretty sure that Nynaeve is actually going to be the more important of the two women eventually but I could be wrong. And their adventures end up being rather important in the long run. So while Rand may have “main character” status, don’t toss out the others as unimportant just yet.
Sense of building in The Great Hunt
Obviously, when I read The Eye of the World I knew it was part of a much larger series. The story did have plenty of teasers and lead-ons for later books. But it felt a little more like a complete story. The Great Hunt has more of a series feel to it. It has a distinct story but you can tell that the story is just building to the next story. There are a lot of things being set up that we don’t get a resolution for in The Great Hunt. It just has a very different feeling from the first book.
Still, the adventure is exciting and the plot is well laid. Knowing going into it that this was a long series, I’m less bothered by the feeling of an incomplete story than I usually am. The Great Hunt is certainly worth reading if you enjoy fantasy books, especially if you’ve already read the first one. And it’s the perfect time to read it, with The Wheel of Time on Prime Video airing its second season currently!
The Wheel of Time Book Two: The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you’ll be reading this fantasy novel!