The Great Hunt

Yes, it’s another post on the Wheel of Time. I’m now on the second book of the series, The Great Hunt, and I have a few more observations about how good it is to re-read things, especially when it’s been such a long time since I started.

Knowing which characters eventually turn out to be evil – nobody is explicitly marked out as bad in these books, and most of the time the ones you least think could be enemies turn out to be. Reading the series for a second time allows that wonderful moment of knowing more than the characters, and trying to look for any early indications of their real purpose.

Recognising physical descriptions of characters – most appearance based descriptions are only mentioned when a character is first introduced, and after 14 books, some of these characters have been around for a very long time. I had completely forgotten who is meant to look like what, meaning some secondary characters have a very different image in my mind.

Getting more out of the deeper themes in the book – I read the Great Hunt when I was about 14, long before I had studied philosophy. This meant I completely missed the implications of many parts of the books. For instance, the Great Hunt includes characters travelling through possible worlds, which are weaker or stronger depending on how close they are to the original world. Knowing now that this is actually a useful theory that some believe not only in principle, but in practice, is very interesting. I am also noticing much more of the characteristics assigned to different people and how this is inspired by cultures in the real world.

One last example of why the detail in WoT surpasses anything else I’ve ever read: in the books, people have common tunes and songs across different countries and territories. But the lyrics are usually different, often reflecting themes and values of the people of that particular place. This is so realistic. Humans share certain universals, but the details can often vary significantly, even to the point of incomprehensibility. Just think about common phrases or idioms that are changed from place to place.