The Eye of the World.
The Great Hunt picks up straight where The Eye of the World left off. The original group of characters separates, with Rand, Perrin and Mat joining the quest to retrieve the Horn of Valere, crucial in the attempts to stop or hinder the Dark Lord. Meanwhile, Nynaeve and Egwene journey to Tar Valon to start their training to become Aes Sedai, where they meet up with Elayne, the daughter-heir of Andor. Whilst all of this is going on, a mysterious army invades from the West and one of the Forsaken is loose.
The Great Hunt is epic in all senses of the word. It's very long at 700+ pages and it's epic in scope and world-building. After re-reading the first volume in the series, all of the characters felt familiar to me, so it was relaxing to slip back into Jordan's world and let the story-telling continue. In this volume, we get to see a bit more of his world, and I loved the glimpses of Tar Valon and the Aes Sedai training in particular. In fact, the sub-plots involving the female characters were far more interesting than the 'main' plot involving Rand. I like the political intrigue around the different factions of Aes Sedai, and I enjoyed the section of the book dealing with Nynaeve's rise to the status of Accepted. Later on, when Egwene is captured by the Seanchan army, I liked reading about how the different societies in Jordan's world deal with women who can perform magic. This was all more interesting than Rand, who is still stuck in the 'I can't believe this is happening to me' phase of denial.
For me, the Wheel of Time series is great comfort reading. I thoroughly enjoyed this volume and am looking forward to the next, but I'm well aware that the series as a whole has it's flaws. The contrast between good and evil is too well drawn, with not enough characters showing any shades of grey. Much of the plot relies on Rand being a bit simple and not picking up on obvious clues that the woman who is 'helping' him isn't all she proclaims to be. And there's a lot of journeying and conversation relative to action. Despite all of this, I found reading The Great Hunt to be a relaxing experience; sometimes there's nothing like settling into a familiar world and re-visiting old characters again.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 1990
Edition Read: Orbit, 2006
Score: 3.5 out of 5