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 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.
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, 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. Still, a fun read, especially with a group of enthusiastic friends.