Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Great Hunt, by Robert Jordan

I managed to get my hands on the second book from the library rather quickly so today I'm looking at the next book in the Wheel of Time series, The Great Hunt. While it moves away from cribbing largely from Lord of the Rings, I feel like this book is still leaving a lot to be desired. Jordan does a lot of work establishing aspects of his universe and creating additional plot threads, but I feel like we're still waiting for the main plot to get kick-started.

Let me take a minute to talk about the characters, which is difficult because there's about a thousand of them and at this point it's hard to tell who's going to be important and who's going to just be minor characters. (Although there's a possibility all of them will be important, so I can't even.) So let's start with Rand, Perrin, and and Matrim. These are three young men who grew up in the small town of Emond's Field and get called to adventure in the first book, along with the characters Nynaeve and Egwene, but more on them later. All three men have the ability to channel the one Power, which means all of them are destined to have a great influence on the world. Rand specifically as it turns out is the Dragon reborn, which is a sort of messiah-cum-destroyer end of days figure. Jordan pulls pretty extensively from Taoism so there are a lot of things being two things at once within his series.

Anyway, these three men are chosen ones, Rand being slightly more chosen than others, and they are involved in the hunt for the Horn of Valere. The horn is one of your typical artifact macguffins, it's tied to a prophecy regarding the final battle and whichever side has it will be able to summon a hundred slain heroes to their side, etc etc. Anyway, the characters found the horn in the previous book and had secured it in a vault. However this book begins with the bad guys successfully stealing the horn so now our heroes have to go get it back. The horn actually changes hands a couple times in the book but the thing that bugged me is that the hunt for the horn gets put aside a couple of times as characters get distracted by other plotlines. Specifically Rand gets lured by a beautiful woman to visit a city where deadly games of politics are occurring. I was 90% sure the woman was luring Rand into a trap because he kept making bad decisions based on what she was advising him to do, but it ultimately led to nothing other than him wasting a bunch of time.

Then there's the arrival of conquerors from over the sea, claiming to be  descendants of a warrior king from the age of legends. It looks like these conquerors are planning on reclaiming the known world and enslaving all women capable of channeling, but as of right now all it does is throw another ball into the air when we're still waiting on the Dark One plot to get going. And this doesn't even get into the brief amount of time Egwene and Nynaeve spent at wizard school. (Sort of wizard school, anyway.)

That's really my biggest problem, Jordan seems to have way too many things going on at once and the result is a muddled plot at best. It's sort of like the issue with Song of Ice and Fire as the series went on. We kept getting more and more characters, and more and more plotlines, and the result is a massive, tangled kudzu vine with no potential clarification in sight. If I can, I guess I'll keep trying these books from the library, but there hasn't been a lot of promise so far.

- Kalpar

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