This review also available on my blog, Stumptown Books
The tone of the series really changes with this second installment. It goes from following a few country bumpkins on their first wide-eyed adventure into the world, to what we know and love the Wheel of Time for - a sprawling epic covering an entire continent. From the prologue, we're suddenly bombarded with the styles and personalities of all the diverse regions of the land, and though it will be hammered home so we always know what Jordan is talking about, we're also expected to start remembering all the crazy threads he is beginning to weave for us.
This is also where a number of phrases that Jordan uses ad nauseam really pick up. See the Wheel of Time drinking game
for more info - beware spoilers! Braid tugging, skirt smoothing, wool heads, boxed ears, and sword stances (such as "Heron Wading in the Rushes") make me constantly roll my eyes. I got into the habit of shouting out the stances whenever they occurred to my begrudgingly tolerating boyfriend. "Cat Crosses the Courtyard!" I shout across the room. "The Swallow Takes Flight!" I'm amazed at the wide variety Jordan came up with; I don't know if one is ever repeated. I thought it pretty ridiculous that anytime the Heron marked blade came out, so did the fighting stances. For me though, this endears the series to me. All the things that are repeated over and over again can either annoy you or bind you closer to the story, it's really up to the reader. I chose to let them make me laugh every time they're mentioned.
Once again we're traveling across the face of the world, but instead of being chased, our young heroes are the chasers. The stakes are high and they never back down, although many readers will find the middle slow moving. There's a lot of information being given that doesn't come into play right away. The climax of The Great Hunt
, however, is shiver inducing, as all the story lines come together for one great release of tension. The Great Hunt
is really just a warm up for the pure awesomeness that is books 3-6, but if you're uninterested in keeping the stories and vast cast of characters straight (and I don't blame you), this is where I suggest stopping. For myself however, I'm remembering why I fell in love with fantasy in the first place. The Great Hunt
became harder and harder to put down with every chapter that I finished, and it took all my willpower to not run immediately to my bookshelf and pick up book 3, The Dragon Reborn
. I can hardly wait to read more!