The Great Hunt – Part 3

Even though my last post of thoughts came with 100 pages left in The Great Hunt, the last 100 pages leave me with no shortage of things to talk about.  And to begin, we go back to Jordan’s writing style.  The first thing I’m going to talk about this time is something that I never noticed until this read through of the books; they’re actually written in an omniscient viewpoint.

It seems odd to think about it that way, considering that Jordan’s books have probably been used to describe a third person limited viewpoint better than any books in recent memory, but there are often small segments where he backs out and describes the scene in ways that the characters would never be able to notice on their own.  It’s subtle, and if you weren’t looking for it you’d probably never notice – hell, even if you are looking for it you might not notice – but it’s effectively done and consistent throughout the books.

The next thing to mention here is one of the stranger things that you’ll hear when talking about a series that spans 14 books and something like 5 million words.  Jordan was a master at being concise with his prose.  And the example that I’m going to talk about here is probably the biggest spoiler in any of my posts about the books thus far.  Towards the very end of this book, Mat sounds the Horn of Valere and the heroes of the ages come to aid in his battle against the Seanchan.  The leader of the heroes is Artur Hawkwing, and when they first arrive, Artur has a short conversation with Rand.  Hawkwing is there talking to them for less than 2 pages, but in that time Jordan was able to do an excellent job of telling you exactly what he was like as a warrior, a general, and a person.  It’s amazingly well done and one of the high points of the novel and the series.

I’m also impressed by how patient Jordan is in telling the story.  He constantly allows several weeks if not months to pass between scenes.  He was excellent at knowing what had to be in the books to tell the story, and what he could leave up to the imagination of the reader.  Lets face it, we don’t need to read about Rand, Hurin, and Perrin exploring every village on their way to Falme.  Just get them to the one where everything happens and make an offhand comment about how similar this one is to the rest of the villages they’ve seen before.  It’s more of the brevity that I discussed earlier, but it’s so effective that it’s worth describing it twice.  You also have to give a lot of credit to his wife and editor Harriet McDougal, they worked well together and it shows in just how good these books really are.

Another great part about this series is how well Jordan shows the characters developing throughout the books.  One of the pivotal moments for any character in the series takes place in this book with Egwene.  Her time spent captive with the Seanchan as a Damane.  She really starts to change because of this experience, and it shows throughout the later books just how much she goes through early on in the series.

Last thought for this book, and I’ll make it quick.  In any really long series, it can be hard to have each book stand on it’s own, but the first two books of The Wheel of Time do just that.  They both tell complete stories that fit into the larger overall story.  It’s another small part of why this series is so good.

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