Where I Got It: Own it.
Who I Recommend This To: Those who enjoy sweeping epic, yet PG-rated, fantasy.
Publisher: Macmillan Audio (2004)
Length: 26 hours 8 minutes
Series: The Wheel of Time Book 2
It’s almost impossible to chat about this book without spoilers for Book 1, The Eye of the World. Still, I will attempt to keep key things vague. If you have not read Book 1 (and you care about such things), continue at your own peril. So, Rand and crew start off at the keep, with Rand getting sword lessons from Lan. Pretty soon the book starts to follow the same story arc as Book 1. Something evil and unexpected shows up and the folks have to leave the keep for various reasons and are separated. Yep, there is even a river and ferry involved early on. Yes, I do have to gently joke about this. In a way, Robert Jordan made Book 2 feel like an old friend before you have even finished it. In another, this similar beginning was a little predictable in the big sweeping story arc.
In general, in this book we get to meet more Aes Sedai and learn what the different colors of Aes Sedai mean. Rand, Mat, and Perrin all get to go gallivanting off in the hunt for a powerful item. We see a lot of growth in Rand and Perrin, coming into their powers. Mat was still on the sidelines, providing some comic relief here and there but far less of a presence than in Book 1. Loial is still around being the cutest Ogier possible. We learn about these transportation stones that are remnants from before the last breaking of the world that allow a person to access a parallel world and travel a short distance there equal to great distances in their home world. We also get more info on the world myths of both the various versions of the Dragon Reborn and also of the ancient hero Artur Hawkwing and how he took his folks across the seas.
So there is the set up without giving much away. I really enjoyed the adventuring through the land, getting to know the various cultures better. Also Min, Nynaeve, Egwene, and Elayne all get some time to bond and grow a bit. Nynaeve and Egwene especially are tested and show some character growth by the end. The pacing and detail was excellent. On the flip side, there were two things that didn’t really do it for me. The climatic ending went by too quickly and was rather nebulous compared to the rest of the detailed narrative. Honestly, I wanted details, in full glory, peoples’ thoughts and feelings, etc. But that wasn’t there and I noticed it’s absence immensely.
The second point it spoilerish. SPOILER ALERT! The Seanchan are a highly organized, hierarchical race from across the sea. In the last quarter of the book, give or take, they show up and completely overwhelm the various forces of …..Randland (for lack of a better term). I don’t remember much of the book from ~2 decades ago when I first read it, but I remember this. Sad to say, it through me off balance again and I felt it was something thrown in by the author to shake things up a bit. Still, with that said I am interested to see how the Seanchan fit into things in the future installments of the series. END SPOILER ALERT.
The narrators were excellent – Michael Kramer and Kate Reading. We got to hear things from the ladies’ points of view quite a bit more in this book, so we got a lot more Kate Reading. Michael Kramer provided a variety of male voices – and I think my favorite was Loail.
What I Liked: Character and world development; good use of myths and prophecy; various characters from Book 1 turn up eventually in Book 2; I am loving hating Padan Fain.
What I Disliked: The ending wasn’t as detailed as I would have enjoyed; the sudden appearance of certain folks near the end threw me for a loop.
Tis the season for the reading event Once Upon A Time, hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings. This event goes through to Summer, and is a bloggity celebration of fantasy. Head over there to find out what all the fuss is about.
If you would like more detailed discussion, check out the read along blog posts: