And so concludes my first re-read of the second book of The Wheel of Time
which I rate as my greatest epic fantasy series read to date. Although if The Malazan Book of the Fallen
continues as the first book has promised it might be right up there as well. Of course nothing beats The Lord of the Rings
as my favourite epic fantasy novel/and tied favourite novel but that's a different story. As seen in my review of the first book The Eye of the World
I love how it's such a sprawling organic world. I can see that many people hate the series for running on too much and yes I respect that but personally (I guess since I jumped on the wagon headed for The Last Battle a little later than most fans) I've loved reading such a long series.
I prefer this book so much more than the first. Yes the first does have its own charm but to me it's very Tolkienesque and quite clear to see that Robert Jordan had not quite found his own style to write epic fantasy in. Therefore it is the second novel which drew me into the series (and a good thing that I actually began with the second and third novels as they are really the true beginning of all the action with the first novel being able to stand very much on its own when compared to the later books). The Great Hunt
follows the three ta'veren introduced to us in the first novel as they pursue a Horn needed for the last battle and a dagger needed to cure one of them. At the same time their female companions are headed to become Aes Sedai (the book's equivalent of female sorceresses). Also introduced into this novel are the Seanchan who make for excellent villains and become more important as the series continues. Also introduced are a group of Aiel and they too focus a lot more in books 3 to 6.
I love the magical elements of this series which don't focus so much until my favourite three books to date: 4, 5 and 6. However the fragments of the story and the potential for future magic are still here. And the characters start to reveal the uniqueness and appeal to the audience that sets them all apart. It's very interesting coming back and re-reading this novel in connection to the later novels, seeing it as a weaker book in the overall scheme of things but a book of great importance. Personally book three is the most important one so I suggest that you read up to book three before deciding whether to drop the series or continue onwards.
Anyway I have little more to say as much of what I can say about this series is subjective or backed up by other fans. If you want to see something more unique than the first book I recommend you at least try this one and see whether you sense the series is heading somewhere. If you still dislike this novel the series probably is not for you at all. If you're still unsure then continue to book three and if not drawn in by then I suggest abandoning ship. There will always be plenty of fantasy fans for this series and you won't gain anything trying to read a series just because you feel compelled to by the fandom.