Please note: this article contains spoilers for the entire Wheel of Time Series.
We all miss some little “easter eggs” when we read a book for the first time… even on the second time! I know I do! It is also true that everyone might notice different things while reading a book.
In this article I would like to discuss things I missed in my previous read of The Wheel of Time’s second book – “The Great Hunt.” My thoughts on the previous books can also be found on our blog: “New Spring” is here; and “The Eye of the World” has Part 1 and Part 2.
The first time I read the Great Hunt was back in 2006, so almost 15 years ago! My last re-read of this book was three years ago, and this was my third or fourth read of it. This makes it the second time I read it, since the finishing of the Wheel of Time series. It’s safe to say I am really excited to start re-reading the series again! I want to see what I’ve missed in my previous reads! Join me!
The Prologue to the Great Hunt at first glance doesn’t tell us that much in regard to moving the story forward, but it sets the stage very well for events that are coming in the main story in the book and even later.
The POV‘s in the Prologue is a man’s who the readers supposedly don’t know yet. He calls himself Bors, and so is he called by Ba’alzamon as well later. In Bors’ thoughts:
“Would the Great Lord of the Dark appear to them as a man? And masked, besides? Yet the Myrddraal, its very gaze fear, trembled and almost cowered where it stood in the figure’s shadow. The man who called himself Bors grasped for an answer his mind could contain without splitting. One of the Forsaken, perhaps. That thought was only a little less painful. Even so, it meant the Day of the Dark One’s return must be close at hand if one of the Forsaken was free.”
It’s interesting that the man Bors got to this conclusion so fast, while we see in the previous book that the main three boys do not even question Ba’alzamon’s words and appearance. However, later he continues thinking and calling the man “Great Lord”, which only blurs the reader’s mind about who this man actually is and if he really is the Dark One.
The Prologue to this book gives us other interesting tidbits some of which are not really resolved later in the books, for example – where is this meeting held, is it a recurring meeting, and who were most of the people in attendance. Obviously, I believe, that this Prologue was intentionally written in such mystery, so as to being interesting and captivating to the reader.
Now, the main story of the Great Hunt continues one month after the end of the Eye of the World.
So, I would like to start with Chapter 1 – “The Flame of Tar Valon”. We see Rand and Lan doing their sword-practice at the top of a tower in Fal Dara. In this chapter Lan tells Rand the heron-marked swords’ history. Something that I noticed was the following:
“[…] when it was done, the Aes Sedai who still lived swore they would never again make a weapon for one man to kill another. Every Aes Sedai swore it, and every woman of them since has kept that oath.”
I cannot help but wonder if this is true and how did Lan learn this? Do Aes Sedai know where one of their Oaths truly comes from? And does it really come from this story? Interesting.
Also, Lan makes note that Rand’s sword is Aes Sedai made, making it more than 3000 years old. But if Lan’s sword is also Aes Sedai made, it should also be the same age, which makes me wonder when did it begin being called “[…] the sword of the kings of Malkier”? It must have been left from one of the old nations and could have become the sword of the first king of Malkier, when the country was first created. Also, if both swords were made by Aes Sedai, why does one carry the heron mark and the other does not? How did they decide which should be marked and which shouldn’t be? Is one wrought by a different material than the other and that’s why it has a mark on it? What did the heron symbolize back in that Age? It would be interesting to find some answers to those questions if RJ has actually left some hints along the way.
In the next few chapters, there were small details that have caught my attention better than the previous times I’ve read the book:
In Chapter 5 Siuan explains to Moiraine that the Hall wants to give her to the Reds for punishment. But… what punishment is that? What has Moiraine done? Has she gone against some law of the Tower that we don’t know of? Or was it because Moiraine is of Cairhienin roial blood that she is important to the Tower, so the Hall would like to have her there instead of running around in the world? My guess is that this is said for dramatic effect, since it’s not being mentioned later again.
Chapter 6 – The Trollocs and a Myrdraal have entered Fal Dara keep. Rand almost faces the Myrdraal himself, but Ingtar comes at this time and tell Rand to run away. Later Ingtar tells Rand the Myrdraal had gotten away. I sort of feel like Ingtar didn’t fight the Myrdraal at all, but let it escape the keep, even though he showed disappointment of not being able to fight it.
Ingtar also tells Rand that there was no earlier order to not let anyone go out of the keep, even though Rand was told by two different people that there was such an order. This leads me to think that it was only Ingtar who could’ve given those orders, without lord Agelmar’s knowledge and everyone would think the order has come from lord Agelmar himself.
“Neither Ragan nor Tema would have made up something like that. And even if the Amyrlin Seat had given the order, Ingtar would have to know of it. So who? And how? He glanced sideways at Ingtar, wondering if the Shienaran was lying. You really are going mad if you suspect Ingtar.”
Yes, Rand was very close there for a second, but sadly, it didn’t look like there was a reason to suspect Ingtar at this point.
Chapter 7 – Moiraine hears Verin speak the Dark Prophecy written in Fal Dara’s dungeons, and she recognizes Isam’s name and thinks to herself that she shouldn’t tell Lan about this. I don’t think Isam is ever mentioned again in regards to Moiraine or Lan, but only from Perrin’s POV and I had never noticed that before.
Chapter 9 – Lan gives Rand one last lesson:
“There will come a time when you must achieve a goal at all costs. It may come in attack or in defense. And the only way will be to allow the sword to be sheathed in your own body.”
Sheathing the Sword. I remember reading this last time and thinking of the end of the book where Rand fights Ba’alzamon and let’s himself be wounded and that’s how he defeats Ba’alzamon. So, to some extent, it is a Foreshadowing.
But then… I remembered the Last Battle and how Lan defeated Demandred. I wonder if Jordan had planned this for Lan during the Last battle, or did he just mean this to happen only to Rand at the end of the Great Hunt. Whatever it is, it is a tidbit that I thought was interesting, while reading this passage.
Chapter 10 – The Hunt begins – The first night after the men leave Fal Dara, Rand opens his saddlebags intending to change his “fancy” coat, but only finds more like it:
“It’s these coats,” Rand growled, still staring at what he had unpacked. One coat was black, embroidered with silver thread, the other white worked in gold. Both had herons on the collars, and both were at least as ornate as the scarlet coat he was wearing. “The servants told me I had two good, serviceable coats in here. Look at them!”
Moiraine made certain that Rand appears as a noble, but she apparently hasn’t done that for the other two boys. It appears she doesn’t understand their importance yet, or hasn’t really thought of them as important, even though she clearly wanted Mat healed and separated from the dagger of Shadar Logoth.
And then in the next chapter, Moiraine sends Rand the Dragon banner and tells Ingtar that Rand will be second in command after him? Why would she do that? She knows how much Rand knows about battles, this seems like a very bad call this far into the story, but it could be that she believed that he will ta’veren his way into being a battle leader somehow.
Let’s jump to Chapter 23 – Testing. We all know Nynaeve’s testing for Accepted is very interesting, I personally listened to that chapter several times during my reread this time. There is something that stuck out to me however. I didn’t realize in the last test that Nynaeve actually remembers what is supposed to be her real life, she doesn’t give in to the arches’ magic. In the end she literally thinks to herself:
“Nothing has changed.” Her thoughts turned. “Nothing has changed. Egwene is alone in the White Tower. Rand will channel the Power and go mad. And what of Mat and Perrin? Can they take back any shred of their lives? And Moiraine, who tore all our lives apart, still walks free.”
Which leads to her wanting to return. Based on this decision, she decides to channel and :
“There had to be a way back still. Staring at where the silver arch had been, she tried to find some trace of it. There was nothing. […] She tried to picture the arch in her mind, to shape it and form it to the last detail, curve of gleaming metal filled with a glow like snowy fire. It seemed to waver there, in front of her, first there between her and the trees, then not, then there.”
This sounds to me that she may have read some weave residue of some sort, since she doesn’t really know what she is doing yet with the Power, we as the reader do not really get much information on what she is doing with it either. And because of this residue she is able to return back.
The question I am left with however is… have the Aes Sedai on the other side felt something? Both when the arch supposedly disappears and later it appears again? They seem to have been awaiting her when she finally steps out of it, so we can assume that they didn’t consider her failing the test.
Later in Chapter 32 – A Message from the Dark, lord Barthanes tells Rand he didn’t intend on delivering Padan Fain’s message, but decided to do it after all. It seems to me that this was more than Daes Dae’mar, it may have been more like a ta’veren tugging on him. Rand is already a very strong ta’veren, so it’s not impossible to assume that a good weave of the Pattern is for Rand to receive a message basically telling him where to go next.
Final musings come from Chapter 47 – The Grave Is No Bar to My Call, when Mat sounds the Horn of Valere and the Heroes of the Horn come to help Rand with the Seanchan.
“Down the billowing fog, as if it were the side of a mountain, rode shapes on horses. At first the dense mists hid more than that, but slowly they came closer, and it was Rand’s turn to gasp. He knew them. Men, not all in armor, and women. Their clothes and their weapons came from every Age, but he knew them all.”
Because of the mention of fog in the description, I had imagined the figures of the Heroes also in a white misty kind of way, but this time I realized that is never mentioned anywhere. I realized that the Heroes look like normal humans with color and everything. That’s why people say they’ve seen Arthur Hawking, but they never mention him looking as a ghost, like how I imagined him. Mind can sometimes play tricks on you if you don’t pay enough attention.
My final thoughts on this book are that, surprisingly, even though the main events are happening rather slowly, the Great Hunt manages to reveal a big part of the world, lay the beginnings of plots happening in later books, and not so surprisingly, give more questions than gives answers to. But after all this is only the second book, the bigger revelations are yet to come!
And with this my reread of the Great Hunt ends. I cannot wait to start my re-read of the Dragon Reborn!