The Great Hunt (abbreviated as tGH by fans) is the second book of The Wheel of Time fantasy series written by American author Robert Jordan. It was published by Tor Books and released on November 15, 1990. The unabridged audio book is read by Michael Kramer and Kate Reading.
In 2004 The Great Hunt was re-released as two separate books, The Hunt Begins and New Threads in the Pattern.
The Great Hunt consists of a prologue and 50 chapters. The main story is about a group of young heroes, namely Rand al'Thor, Mat Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara, ta'veren all, who join Shienaren soldiers in a quest to get the Horn of Valere out of enemy hands. At the same time, Egwene al'Vere, Nynaeve al'Meara, and Elayne Trakand go to the White Tower in Tar Valon to begin learning the ways of the Aes Sedai. And finally, in a distant land, a strange group of people start an invasion of the western coast.
During the initial prologue, Jordan describes a scene involving Ba'alzamon and his followers which takes place in Shayol Ghul. There are many clues and pieces of information in the prologue which precede later events in the novel. Throughout the story, events occur which Jordan does not explain. In Fal Dara this includes an arrow aimed at the Amyrlin Seat and how the Myrdraal got inside the fortress. It also details two Aes Sedai in Shayol Ghul, one of whom we come to know as Liandrin. The prologue shows how deep Ba'alzamon's influence has gone, even in places the protagonists believe to be safe.
Following the events in The Eye of the World, the book opens with the major characters united at the city-fortress of Fal Dara in Shienar, to which the Amyrlin Seat is traveling. Shortly after her arrival, the fortress at Fal Dara is attacked by Trollocs and Myrddraal, and the prisoner Padan Fain escapes. Mat's Shadar Logoth tainted dagger, from which he will die if separated from for too long, and the Horn of Valere are also taken. In the wake of the attack, Rand al'Thor has an audience with the Amyrlin Seat and is told that he is the Dragon Reborn, which he persistently denies (though the evidence is undeniably true).Seeking to recover the Horn, Ingtar, a Shienaran lord, leads a small army including Rand, Mat Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara after the thieves, a band of Shadowspawn and Darkfriends led by Padan Fain. To track them, they enlist Hurin, a Shienaran with the strange ability to 'smell' things that other people can't, such as traces of past violence. Not long into their journey Rand, Loial and Hurin are accidentally separated from the party and transported to a world via a portal stone; the world is an alternate timeline to their own, in which the land appears deserted and somehow distorted. Rand soon discovers that the Stone was activated when he unconsciously channeled saidin in his sleep, and his struggle to accept his Channeling ability is one of the recurring elements of the novel. In the other world, Rand meets Ba'alzamon and has a heron branded into his palm in a fight. Later they find another portal stone with the help of a mysterious woman called Selene. Rand is able to use the Stone to return to their own world, albeit much farther ahead than either Fain's or Ingtar's group. By hiding and waiting for the Darkfriends to catch up, they manage to sneak into Fain's camp and recover both Horn and dagger.
Ingtar's group, at a loss as to the how and why of Rand's disappearance, continue tracking Padan Fain with the aid of Perrin. He pretends to be another sniffer like Hurin, but secretly is using his wolf sense to ask nearby wolves which way Padan Fain's group went.
Egwene al'Vere and Nynaeve al'Meara leave Fal Dara at the same time as Ingtar's party, traveling with the Amyrlin and Moiraine Damodred to Tar Valon. At the White Tower, Nynaeve passes the test to become Accepted by walking through three arches, each of which takes her to a vision that could deter her from going on and becoming an Aes Sedai. Each vision is more painful than the last; the first involving a battle with the Forsaken Aginor, the second requiring her to abandon her hometown of Emond's Field in a time of need, and in the third she must turn her back on a life of happiness with Lan Mandragoran. After this, she is made an Accepted, a rank in the White Tower below Aes Sedai and above a Novice.
While his party is en route to Cairhein, Rand glimpses the huge Choeden Kal sa'angreal, but is stopped before he can attempt to Channel through it. That night Selene leaves their party without warning. After arriving at Cairhein Rand finds the Gleeman Thom Merrilin, whom he thought dead after an encounter with a Myrddraal in The Eye of the World. In the city, Rand and Loial are attacked by Trollocs and, during their escape, destroy the Chapter House of the Illuminator's Guild, a society of people who are extremely protective of their knowledge of fireworks. The Horn and dagger are once again lost. Later on Thom's apprentice and lover, Dena, is murdered for Thom's involvement with Rand.
With the aid of Perrin, Ingtar's group is successfully reunited with Rand, and they learn that the Horn has been taken to Toman Head, at the port city of Falme. Hoping to get there faster, Rand tries to lead them through a portal stone. While successful, during his attempt the stone malfunctions and the group ends up losing time. As these events unfold, action also takes place on the other side of the continent, where the Seanchan have occupied Falme. Geofram Bornhald, of the Children of the Light, is preparing forces to take against the Seanchan.
At the White Tower, Liandrin tells Egwene, Nynaeve, Elayne and Min that Rand and his friends are in danger. They travel with her to Toman Head via Waygate. When they arrive Min is captured by the Seanchan and Egwene is collared with an a'dam, a device used by the Seanchan to control women who can channel. Nynaeve and Elayne manage to escape.
At Falme, Rand, Ingtar and the others form a small party to reclaim the dagger and Horn of Valere, consisting of Ingtar, Hurin, Rand, Perrin, and an increasingly sickly Mat. In the city, Rand sneaks into the building where the Horn is being kept, but is forced to defeat the blademaster High Lord Turak of the Seanchan before he can escape with the Horn and dagger.
At the same time, Elayne and Nynaeve rescue Egwene from the Seanchan and attempt to flee the city. At this moment the Whitecloaks also choose to attack, leaving the heroes trapped between the Seanchan and the Children. In a last desperate chance, Mat blows the Horn of Valere, summoning forth the heroes of the horn, led by Artur Hawkwing himself and including Birgitte Silverbow. This act also establishes a permanent link between Mat and the Horn, which can only be broken upon his death. The Children are easily defeated by the damane, but the Heroes of the Horn then overwhelm the Seanchan, who retreat back to their ships and sail away.
Finally, Rand is drawn into a duel with Ba'alzamon, an image of which appears in the sky, drawing the attention of all. Rand is unable to penetrate Ba'alzamon's defenses, and is forced to trade his life for his opponent's: by opening his defenses and allowing Ba'alzamon to strike home, Rand also lands a killing blow (making this the second time he has killed Ba'alzamon, the first being the climax of The Eye of the World). Rand is not slain, but takes a malignant wound.