So then Rand got this idea about running off and living a hermit’s life in the middle of nowhere, one of very many middles of nowhere scattered throughout the continent because of how humanity is on a long gradual decline ever since the Breaking of the World, some 3500 years ago. This? This is why we don’t drill holes into the Dark One’s prison. Anyway, Rand’s idea made a lot of sense, because in the middle of nowhere he could not kill all his friends nor be gentled by Aes Sedai. The only downside is that, being the Dragon Reborn, he would also fail to save the world, which is probably worse than those other two outcomes. So naturally
the plot ta’veren strikes in the form of creepy little Padan Fain stealing the Horn of Valere and riding into the sunset with it, right before Rand could have snuck off into obscurity. Et voila, a book.
This may leave you with the impression that I am meh on The Great Hunt, and really I’m not. (Truth be told, I expect to be meh on few if any of these books when read in one desperate gulp as I am doing. I’ve long had a theory that the problem with the books was two-fold: 1) far more repetition than non-casual readers need, and admittedly the huge gulp will eventually make that a trial, yes, and 2) too much space between books in which not enough happens, whereas the gulp will make that vanish entirely because over the course of the whole series, yep, quite a lot happens. Sure, there are other problems, but I think those are the two biggest ones. If I’m right, even a book that should be far more annoying upon re-read than the first time when I didn’t even know what to expect will also probably seem fine, and much moreso an old standby of basically good like the one from which I have just digressed broadly.) It’s just that I don’t have a lot to say, and even less to sum up, so that’s where my brain went.
It occurs to me that I possibly shouldn’t like this book, just because of the role it plays. The Eye of the World set up the central conflicts of the story, between Rand and Ishamael, between Rand and Fain, between Rand and his destiny, and of course between the entire world and the Dark One. Whereas this book sets up the some of the biggest distractions from those conflicts with the introduction of the horrible and functionally irredeemable Seanchan society and Rand’s debilitating, messianic spear wound. Plus, it introduces someone who should by rights have been an interesting distraction in the form of Lanfear, the original Dragon groupie, only to squander her before the series was even half over. I wonder if her character arc would have made more sense in a much shorter series. That said, her attempts at seduction (both the sexual kind and the “dark side of the Force” kind) were awfully clumsy here, and I wonder if that was about Jordan or about her character?
Am I rambling? Yes, yes I am. So let me leave you with this. Remember that time when they went through the Portal Stone and something went wrong and they each of them in the group lived the entirety of somewhere between hundreds to maybe infinite lifetimes? If you do not, then it is because you’re not aware that I am wildly unconcerned with spoilers for these early books, even though I announced it in front of the previous review. So that probably sucks by now, huh? Anyway, before I was so rudely interrupted, I was making a point. Sure, Jordan described each lifetime in just a few paragraphs, but they were still entire lifetimes. How horrible is it to imagine that you could be a person in the midst of some kind of scientific-magic overload, a dim reflection of someone’s incorrect fate, granted the entire lifetime that everyone gets, yes, but eventually doomed to be only a fading memory punctuated by Elan Morin Tedronai laughing that, as always, he has won again and your faded reflection was an exercise in futility.
Say what you will about Robert Jordan, but the man could be incredibly evocative. Which reminds me that, as a devotee of the post-apocalyptic, I’m disappointed that the dimming light of humanity which persuaded Ingtar to sell his very soul has kind of fallen away from the story. At least, my memory of the latter books is that the land is never so vastly empty as it is right now. Probably I’m wrong objectively and it only seems thus because of Travelling. But it was tragic and beautiful, and I miss it.
 What, you’re still here complaining about spoilers? Seriously? I thought I had made myself clear! (I’ll start trying to keep track of them somewhere in the book 7 range or so, I reckon.)