by Robert Jordan
Flashback to March 2012: A dashing young part-time fry cook and recreational blogger picks up The Eye of the World on the advice of some of his nerdy friends. He reads it, decides he likes it, and writes positive things about it on his aforementioned blog.
A world-weary (yet still dashing) young man picks up its sequel, The Great Hunt. It’s tough at first because he’s forgotten most of what happened in the first book, but he soon begins to enjoy it and, after several weeks, finally finishes. The end? Of course not. There’s twelve more books in the series as of today, when the 14th and final installment is released.
Like I said, it took me a few chapters to get back into The Wheel of Time. It’s hard to remember such a large cast of characters, and I was confused as fuck about what happened at the end of Eye anyways. But after a while (and after asking Wheel experts about a few details) I got really into it. Almost embarrassingly so; Metro riders seem to prefer more intellectual fare. Judgmental commuters.
I don’t want to get too much into the plot here- you either read the first book or you didn’t- so I’ll just tell you what I liked or didn’t like about the book. Mostly liked. First of all, one of the plot elements from the first novel really becomes important here. The main characters are frequently described as Ta’veren, meaning that the world kind of revolves around them. Makes sense, right, for the main characters in a fantasy novel to have a huge impact on their universe? So that’s cool, but I think in The Great Hunt, it plays out in interesting ways. Characters that have had minimal interactions with our heroes seem to have been greatly affected by them. It’s kind of a stupid thing to think is cool, but I like the way the story incorporates and reinforces the notion that these characters are equally important to their own world as to the audience.
I also liked that, with few exceptions, the narrative is pretty focused. It’s called The Great Hunt, and about 90% of the book follows various characters’ attempts to find, steal, protect, or use the Horn of Valere, the object of the eponymous hunt. This is somewhat different from The Eye of the World, in which the Eye itself wasn’t important till the end. Come to think of it, I don’t even really remember what the Eye was, and since it wasn’t mentioned in Hunt, I’m assuming that it doesn’t fucking matter anymore. Again, this might not seem like a big deal, but it’s nice to have some structure in place from the beginning, and to know when the finale is approaching.
Speaking of Eye, while I understand the whole hero’s journey thing, I do get tired of Rand al’Thor (our protagonist) complaining that he’s just a shepherd from the Two Rivers. No. Shut up. All signs point to the contrary, and it should be obvious even to you, Rand. The character Moiraine, who provides general expository services, already identified you as the Dragon Reborn at the end of Eye. The third book is called The Dragon Reborn. You don’t need to be a rocket surgeon to figure this out.
Since I seemed to have transitioned into things that I did not like, I must say that at times it’s frustrating to try to remember each and every character. Jordan has this annoying habit of introducing several characters at once, following one of them, and then not mentioning the others for hundreds of pages. All of a sudden they’re back, and you’re supposed to remember everything about them. It frustrates me, and means that the longer I take to read one of these books, the more confusing it becomes.
Many things confuse me, however. Writing checks, for instance. What goes on this line, and that one? Sometimes it takes a minute. Don’t front, you know it’s confusing as hell. But anyway, I can’t really complain about getting confused by Wheel; I have the sneaking suspicion that I’m supposed to be confused, or at least curious. There are certainly questions left unanswered, plotlines unexplored. I know that there are twelve more books, so I guess I have to be patient and have faith that the rest of the series will provide those answers. Or I guess I could just forget about the questions I have, and move on anyway.
And I am going to move on. Not immediately, though. I like to mix it up a little bit, and not read too much of any one thing for too long. Diversification. So I’ll probably read a book or two before moving on to Dragon. And y’all benefit too, as my blog (hopefully) won’t turn into a Wheel of Time forum. Or a James Bond forum. Or a weekly rant about the state of our political process, to hint at what I’m reading now. But I will come back to Dragon, and I intend to read the whole series.
The Great Hunt did more than The Eye of the World to hook me into the The Wheel of Time. Pretty exceptional.