Book Review – The Great Hunt

thegreathuntThe Great Hunt is the second novel of The Wheel of Time epic fantasy series by Robert Jordan.  I’ve previous reviewed book 1 of the series, The Eye of the World, and this book is a continuation of the story.

Coming off a rather predictable beginning to the series, I was hoping for something deeper and less predictable.  That’s exactly what I got.  The story continues where the first one left off, with Rand al’Thor struggling to come to terms with who he is, and a beginning of another journey for him and his friends.  This time, they’re to deliver the Horn of Valere, but of course, their plans don’t exactly happen the way they hoped.  While the first book was a fairly straightforward and simple story about a reluctant hero, this one is a much more complex and compelling story about a hero who hates what he is.  He hates it so much, he denies it to himself, his friends, and all others.  His friends Mat and Perrin have their own troubles they have to come to terms with, as well.  In the first book, they were great friends, but now they all have psychological issues to deal with, and things are no longer cheery for them.  Add in Egwene and Nynaeve with their new quest to become Aes Sedai, and more mysterious actions by Moiraine, and we have a story with multiple subplots.  One great thing is that we get to see what goes on in the lives of the Aes Sedai.  My, what a lovely dysfunctional family they seem to be.  Jordan did a great job with the story in this book, and developed the characters very well.

The world in this series continues to reveal itself, and I’m very intrigued about every part of it.  I love fantasy worlds, and this one seems so well done with many different kinds of people and cultures.  Tar Valon, the Aes Sedai city, was very interesting.  I want to see more of it.  Cairhien proved to be a paranoid city that I would not want to live in.  The Aiel made an appearance, which I was waiting for.  I’m wondering if we’ll see much of them in future installments.  But the coming of the Seanchan provides another enemy to focus on, not just for Rand, but also for the Aes Sedai.  We’ve got a rich variety of people and places.

Being a continuation of a series, there’s a big overall story, but each book needs to have a complete story itself.  The Great Hunt does well at having a good self-contained story, but also to be only one piece of the greater picture.  The final battle of this book was a surprise.  I wasn’t expecting that at all.  It’s going to be interesting to see how things go from here.

The Great Hunt was pretty good.  I think it was better than the first book.  Anyone who gave up halfway through The Eye of the World should try again, and then read this book.  I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.  It’s worth it!

I’d give this a full 5 out of 5 stars.  Great read!

New Review List

I believe I’ve mentioned before that I like lists.  Well, I’ve made a new one for the reviews.  If you’re interested in seeing my progress through book series, you can check it out here.  It’s also in the Review menu at the top.

More reviews to come.  I have a bit of a backlog, but I’ve been reading a lot.  I have 6 completed books, which means 6 reviews coming soon.  Make that 7, as I’m about to finish another book. If possible, I’d like to post all 7 this month.  Can I do it? Keep checking back here!

The Advantages of Critique Groups

In my writing, I find critique groups to be invaluable resources.  They are very useful for several reasons, but they are also not a replacement for editors or beta readers. I use Critique Circle usually, but I’m interested in trying out Scribophile, as well.

Critique Circle has been wonderful for me so far.  I recently used it to critique part of Journey to Ariadne, and will be using it for the next part soon.  The critiques vary from short and marginally useful to very detailed and constructive.  I’ve found that it helps me to gauge how readers see my writing, and it’s streamlined my narrative and dialogue.  I’ve learned quite a bit from it.  The way it works is that you can submit a work for 3 points to be critiqued.  Over a week, other users can critique your writing.  But you need to critique other people’s writing to be able to post more.  You can gain 1 or 2 points, depending on if the work is more or less than 3000 words.  There’s an active forum for discussions, as well as several useful tools.

Scribophile seems very promising.  I’ve signed up, but have yet to use it.  It’s similar to Critique Circle in that you post your works for points and critique others’ works to receive points, or karma.  But what I like about Scribophile is the Academy.  It has several useful articles on writing that should help any writer improve how they write. Of course, it also has forums and other useful tools.  They say you are guaranteed at least 3 useful critiques, but most likely far more than that.  I’ll have to try it out with my next part.

Critiques are a great way to check how others perceive your writing.  They’re not for fixing grammatical or spelling errors, but they’re for helping you hone your style, flow, characterization, and more.  Got a problem with too much passive?  It’ll be caught.  Not using semicolons correctly?  That will be caught, too.  There’s so much that they can do to help.  You also become part of a community.  And within that community, you can start to get some followers, people who will stick with your story until the end, if you’re writing a novel.  The objective isn’t to encourage the writer by saying it’s wonderful or engaging, but to point out mistakes, find difficult to understand passages, and help improve delivery.

To make the most out of critique groups, you have to be active.  Not only do you need to post stories, but you need to read.  There’s a give and take in this kind of community.  Returning critiques is encouraged.  The more you critique, the more critiques you will receive.  Not only do you learn new techniques from the critiques, but you also learn better writing by critiquing others.

There’s one concern that some people may have: Is my writing safe?  These two workshop websites I’ve recommended require people to register to be able to view stories.  Copyright is protected, and remains solely the writer’s.  You can even keep your writing private and only viewable by a select few who you trust.  It’s up to you how public it is, though it’ll never be truly public.

I will probably continue to use these sites for all of Journey to Ariadne.  After two rounds of critiques, my third draft will be posted on my official website.
Comments are always welcome!