Book Review: THE GREAT HUNT by Robert Jordan

I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected My opinions.

Title in black on white before a grey snake in a figure of eight interlocked with a wheel
Genre: fantasy (classic)
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: yes - second book

*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE EYE OF THE WORLD*

Synopsis:

Book cover for THE GREAT HUNT: title below the wheel of time logo on a dark forest

The Forsaken are loose, the Horn of Valere has been found and the Dead are rising from their dreamless sleep. The Prophecies are being fulfilled – but Rand al’Thor, the shepherd the Aes Sedai have proclaimed as the Dragon Reborn, desperately seeks to escape his destiny.

Rand cannot run for ever. With every passing day the Dark One grows in strength and strives to shatter his ancient prison, to break the Wheel, to bring an end to Time and sunder the weave of the Pattern.

And the Pattern demands the Dragon.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


Review:

There is a blurb! On Goodreads that actually tells me a bit about what might happen in the book! Still vague as anything, but better than The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. I know I’m making a point about this, but blurbs are SO IMPORTANT. They are ultimately what decide whether I’ll pick up a book or not. The blurb is what tells me whether a book is likely to align with my tastes or not. I know that a series like this gets to rely on name clout, but I honestly wouldn’t have started it without the copies from the publisher as I just knew nothing about it.

This book, though a 100 pages shorter, was harder to read than THE EYE OF THE WORLD. There were points that I really did have to sit down and force myself to read, but I kept getting distracted by social media – which, when reading, is a good sign that something in the book isn’t hooking me.

I’m engaged enough in the world and the overall promise of the book (not to mention its reputation!) to want to keep reading, and read right through to the end (all 11 books left.) However, there’s something making it really hard to read for long bursts, and that took me a while to work out. It’s something that the first book also “suffered” from, but was accentuated here, as this is not a first book in series.

This series is BIG – 14 books plus a prequel. The books themselves are very long (I don’t think there’s a single one, save the prequel under 650 pages. And they can easily near 1000 pages.) And I know that going in.

The thing I’m struggling with is how little the story seems to progress in terms of overall story arc. Both emotionally and in terms of where they are in relation to the overall epic quest fantasy narrative of good vs evil, the characters seem barely to have moved since the previous book. Rand is still hating the idea of being the Dragon, and even at the end he seems to be denying it despite the fact he clearly is. The world is not really anywhere that it wasn’t before on a macro level. And by this point, I’m almost 1500 pages in (excluding the prequel). And I don’t even want to guess how many 1000s of pages there are less.

It feels like not enough happens to justify the page count. It’s not satisfying enough, because there isn’t enough change or momentum pushing the story forwards. I like to have an idea of where the book will end (even if it’s wrong) or at least feel like I’m being led towards a climax where something big is going to happen that feels deserved. I want to have a sense that there’s an endpoint where things have changed.

I don’t get that here. The book seems to meander and bob along until the last 150/200 pages or so (based on this and the previous book), and then it starts to feel like it’s building towards something. For this book, as the characters fragment into many storylines, this was most noticeable in Rand’s part of the story (and not at all in others’.) But Rand is the lead, so his story should be, personally, the most momentum filled and engaging.

Like I’m slogging through words with little reward. And the reward is in the secondary characters (and rich world building.) The women have a much more complete feeling story (as much as a part of a series other than the ending feels complete.) They change and grow and both emotionally and physically move forwards in their journeys. At this point, I’m reading for the fact that it’s a massive series, and for them. I’m hoping to come to read for Rand, but his stubbornness about not being the Dragon is starting to irritate me a little. I can understand WHY he doesn’t want to be this hero, and why he fears being used, but the way he’s refusing, the reasons, feel shaky because it’s mainly “you’re lying” despite the vast array of who’s saying it to him. If he focused more on the why, I would probably like him more.

I think that I need to pace these books a little more (the joy of scheduling in advance is that I can stick to my original schedule for these first few books while reading other books in between!) It might help feel like less of a marathon because I’m not reading several thousand pages in one go. Book by book might help accentuate progress.


Read my reviews of other books by Robert Jordan:

The Wheel of Time (this series):

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