book: The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1) | Robert Jordan
The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1)
, 1990 - 832 pages
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Run of the Mill Sometimes Thrilling, Often Windy Epic Fantasy
Blood and ashes, what a
, the seminal volume of Robert Jordan's masterpiece epic fantasy series The
, was released on January 15, 1990. It has long been on my TBR pile, and after Brandon Sanderson took over the helm of the last book, I finally decided to dive into the series.
In 1990, fantasy was mostly what I think of as clichéd. Dark Lords, prophecies, simple farm boys, and the like stomp through the books of the era, and The Eye of the World contains its fair share of them. Still, I knew this all going into the book, and I'm a patient reader, willing to give the author many, many pages before I make my decision to abandon a read. More often than not, I finish a book once I start it, and it's a rare thing indeed if I put one away in disgust. Still, by the time I finished The Eye of the World, I felt somewhat relieved, somewhat exhilarated, somewhat exhausted, and somewhat interested to find out what happens next.
The dramatis personae is enormous for this book, and I imagine can only grow as the series progresses. Rand al'Thor, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara are from the Two Rivers, a simple farming village nestled away in the backwater lands of Andor. They make their lives as simpletons dreaming of adventure and life outside the country vale. One night, the town is attacked by Trollocs, devastating the unprepared town, and the three lads learn that they were the reason for the attack. They flee the Two Rivers, hoping to keep their homelands safe, and thus the epic journey begins.
Many curious and interesting things happen on the road for the travelers. More people are joined to their party, and the world slowly unfolds. The group is hounded by followers of the Shadow, and soon it's obvious that the Dark One must be stopped and that this group is more important than once thought. Jordan painstakingly describes the scenes, like the master of high fantasy Tolkien himself, long worded and lengthy. I sometimes found myself zoning out at the language, much like I did when I first discovered The Lord of the Rings.
All of this is not to say that The Eye of the World is a bad book. No, on the contrary, it has plenty to keep the reader excited and thrilled. The imagination is impressive, crafting a world full of legends and many different cultures and creatures. The use of magic is never far from belief, and the threat of the Shadow is constantly reminding the reader that the world is not safe. Plus, some scenes are just plain fun, especially the resolution.
Still, the biggest problem with Jordan's opening volume, and the most difficult thing to overcome, is the wordiness. Jordan has a terrible habit of repeating himself over and over, using the same actions for the same characters. For one, the characters "curse" all the time; saying "burn me" or "blood and ashes" after every bad thing that happens is just boring and trite. It's not that I have a problem with the curse words in literature, but I just think they're a bit overused and unrealistic. In fact, I'd go as far as saying that the dialogue is quite unrealistic more often than not. Also, not only are the curses re-used over and over, but so are character mannerisms. Having Tom "blow out his mustaches" when he's flustered is okay on occasion, but not every single time. And the women pulling at their braids or smoothing their skirts? Bah.
Yet, if you can get past the wordiness and the lackluster dialogue, Jordan has a rough gem buried. The worldbuilding is excellent. The legends are fascinating. The tale is truly epic in scope, exploring various themes of what it's like to be chosen as the savior of the world, how the common people react to growing Shadow, and countless others. Many of the characters in the main party are all interesting for different reasons, and though Rand is the main POV, the insight to other characters is great fun. (I never really warmed up to Mat, that dork. Perrin, on the other hand, was cool, and Thom, too.)
Overall, The Eye of the World is a long novel that only scratches the surface of the enormous Wheel of Time series. I've read that the series drops the ball a bit in the middle, and that could prove problematic. Still, it is a modern classic that must be read by all fans of fantasy, or at least attempted. However, I already own The Great Hunt, the next book in the series, so I'll probably be starting it at some point in the quasi-near future. I feel like I need to pace myself between books to keep it up and not get burned out. In the end, I recommend The Eye of the World to all fans of fantasy, especially in the epic subgenre, but with a warning: be prepared for a great story, but a little work to get to it.
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The Epic Beginnings of a Wildly Passionate and Questionably Worthwhile Love-Hate Relationship
I love this
. I love The Great Hunt as well. I love this series so much that I spent nearly a hundred dollars and an entire summer of my youth on it.
I would not say it is all that similar to The Lord of the Rings, or that it is a rip-off of it. But it will draw you in, and I think many who like The Lord of the Rings would like this as well.
Nor would I say that the plot gets less interesting as the series continues (although I have not read the two most recent books). I am amazed at the multiple plot lines Jordan can juggle while constantly adding new characters and new channels to explore within his amazing fantasy
. 'Epic' doesn't even quite get at it. The reason I have not read the latest two books is that I simply can't recall the intricacies of each situation that would make reading the series's conclusion enjoyable. It's been years and many other books since I've experienced The
and I feel like I would have to start over to continue any further. Unfortunate.
But the real problem is: After the first two novels or so, I began to hate the characters. Especially the women. Some of those women more than others, but as the series continues they all sort of adopt the same, infuriating personality. I don't think the author understands women well enough to write about them. I also am tempted to think he is trying to live out some unrealistic fantasy through writing this book. You'll see what I mean. But all the characters become so shallow, predictable, irritating, so hopelessly unbelievably half-baked, that at times I wished I could have wrestled the pen from Jordan's hand and shown him how to make a character likable or at least endowed with normal human emotions.
That said, read this book! I... love it.
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turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the
and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
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