Amusingly, due to the library not having a copy of The Eye of the World , the first two times I read the series, I actually started with The Great Hunt . While the Eye of the World could arguably stand alone (albeit with a somewhat unsatisfying feeling, given the sheer quantity of untapped potential in the world building), it’s in the Great Hunt that things really start getting crazy.
Rand is just now starting to understand what being the Dragon Reborn could mean. Perrin has a connection to the wolves, something very old, come new again. Mat is still cursed by his dagger and yet he's the one to finally sound the Horn . You have the first hints of parallel universes and world hopping, along with the World of Dreams–which will turn out to be rather important to the universe all together–along with a few more Forsaken coming out of the woodwork. Lanfear… Lanfear proves that being loved by a power hungry hundred/thousand year old super powerful jealous woman can be… interesting.
And there’s the Seanchan. I’d forgotten that they showed up just this soon. And seeing the One Power being used as a weapon in full after an entire book of people holding back. With an entire people absolutely convinced they are in the right to enslave everyone who can channel. Despite the final battle of the book where the Seanchan advance and retreat with Ba'alzamon , it’s hard to see them as evil. Deadly, dangerous, and with some seriously morally corrupt traditions. But this is a world where true evil exists. The Seanchan… are not it.
A worthy sequel. As I finish each book, I immediately want to go on.
Another thing I’m noticing on yet another reread: the amount of foreshadowing in these books in intense. While some few things in early books changes by the end, there are a number of prophesies that become readily apparently only on a reread. Once you’re done with all 4.4M words? Give it another go. Worth it. :)