Monday, July 9, 2018

The Great Hunt

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The first sequel of the late Robert Jordan’s main Wheel of Time series opens with a prologue centering on a masked man named Bors and his followers, where the repetition of “the main who called himself” is somewhat unnecessary. Bors hosts guests from many nations in the known world, among them being Aes Sedai, Trollocs, and Myrddraal, owing allegiance to the Dark One. Ba’alzamon and others in the meantime are at the foot of Shayol Ghul, and news abounds of a boy with a heron-marked blade destined to become the Dragon Reborn and his companions, with Bors making Tarabon and the Almoth Plain his targets.

When the main chapters open with the same motif Jordan and his successor Brandon Sanderson use, the wind rises in the Mountains of Dhoom, blows southward across the tangled forest of the Great Blight, tainted by the Dark One’s touch, and reaches the walled town of Fal Dara, ending atop the tower of a great fortress where the Warder Lan instructs Rand in the art of swordsmanship. The leader of the Aes Sedai, the Amyrlin Seat, comes to the city, with Rand thinking he is a target, given that he attempted to channel the One Power whose masculine half the Dark One tainted eons ago.

The city gates are sealed with the Amyrlin’s arrival, with events across the world raging such as false Dragons ravaging the land in Saldaea, Murandy, and Tear, and street riots occurring in Caemlyn in Andor. Meanwhile, Lady Elayne has safely arrived in Tar Valon to commence her instruction as an Accepted, with Moiraine Sedai further presenting Egwene and Nynaeve as candidates to learn the ways of magic. Rand is still believed to be the true Dragon Reborn, and in a dream fends off a Trolloc with his companions Mat and Perrin whilst in a farmhouse, Padan Fain, Ba’alzamon, and Black Ajah with them.

Most of the first sequel’s action revolves around the stolen Horn of Valere, said to bring long-deceased heroes back to fight for good, and Rand ultimately departs with Ingtar to seek the MacGuffin. Portal Stones occasionally teleport Rand and company, who eventually cross paths with a woman named Selene, who too seeks the Horn, and wants to go back home, although beasts known as the grolm delay her plans. In the meantime, Egwene and Nynaeve train with the Amyrlin seat aboard the River Queen whilst fearing Rand to be in danger, the latter accepted into the White Tower after a series of tests.

Rand soon finds himself in the company of Loial the Ogier and Hurin, a tracker, finding their way to a man named Barthanes Damodred. A royal succession war is also imminent, and the sequel introduces new adversaries known as sul’dam, Holders of the Leash, who use cuff-and-collar pairs known as a’dam to shackle Aes Sedai, who enslaved are known as damane, with sul’dam able to sense One Power users within ten miles. The search for the Horn of Valere and a tainted dagger intensifies late in the book in a conflict centered around a location known as Tomon Head.

Overall, the first Wheel of Time sequel is very much on par with its predecessor, and while there are dozens of characters, it’s not terribly troublesome to keep track of them, and the series effectively weaves some of its own mythos, given things such as the unique terms involving the enslavement of the magical Aes Sedai. As with before, however, the late author seemed to be a fan of the Star Wars cinematic franchise, given the enigmatic One Power and its light and dark sides, although those who enjoyed The Eye of the World will most likely enjoy The Great Hunt.

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