To this day, I feel that The Great Hunt is the best self-contained story in The Wheel of Time. Now, I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite (that distinction belongs to book four) but it is remarkable in that of all Wheel of Time books, it feels the most focused and direct.
It’s always hard to pick a favorite section of a book like this, as my moods and interests have changed so many times while reading the series. However, most recently, I think I like the scene of Rand learning the Game of Houses the most. This scene is responsible for the first time in my life that I can remember being directly influenced by a book I was reading to create a magic system.
It happened when I was still a teen. Now, I’d been unconsciously influenced by writing before, but never had I read something and specifically had that (now familiar) experience of saying “Hey, this would make a great magic system.” Here, I imagined a land where everyone had a little mystical number that floated by their head, representing their influence in society. You could give influence to others as payment, or earn it through certain acts. You could spend it to hide things about your number, or to accomplish magical feats both large and small.
I never ended up using that system. Perhaps I will someday, though now, it feels too influenced by things I’ve read. Also, I’ve seen some authors do a great job of concepts like this. (Scott Westerfeld did something similar later in his Uglies series.) Still, that one little magic system itches at me to find a home, if only as an homage to The Great Hunt and its compelling narrative.
Brandon Sanderson is the author of Elantris, The Mistborn Trilogy, and, with Robert Jordan, the New York Times bestselling The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight, and the forthcoming A Memory of Light, the final volumes to the epic Wheel of Time.