Book Review: The Eye of the World
Published by Orbit Fantasy
There is a world of light and shadows, where good and evil wage eternal war. It is the world of the Wheel of Time, the greatest fantasy epic ever written.
The Wheel of Time 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.
But one truth yet remains, and what mortal men forget, the Aes Sedai do not…
What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
If you’re any kind of fantasy reader, you will have at the very least heard of the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, if not read every one to death. The Eye of the World tells the story of Rand, Mat and Perrin (mostly through the eyes of Rand) as they are thrown from their peaceful, sheepherding village life into the midst of the epic battle between Good and Evil.
I do recommend reading these books if you like fantasy, as they really are brilliant reads, and you will fall in love with the characters. Unfortunately, the thinly veiled Lord of the Rings references get a bit tedious (black-cloaked riders, man-beasts in service of a Dark Lord who is trapped and trying to break free, a group of country bumpkins on a great quest… need I go on?)
First published in 1990 (and reprinted every year until 2004 – in some cases, twice a year), the Wheel of Time series feeds from an era in fantasy when all they really had to go on was Tolkien, and it means that there is a lot of LOTR-alikes. However, of all the choices, Jordan’s Wheel of Time does the best job of stepping away and creating an exciting, believable universe. In fact, it was so good that top fantasy author Brandon Sanderson was tasked with completing the series following Jordan’s death.
What is so artful about this particular story is the blurring of the lines between the good and evil – who sits on which side and which side should you be rooting for, exactly? For such a huge series, Book One sits perfectly on its own, and it’s a mad race through the 700+ pages just to see how it will all end – the sign of a good book. From the village of the Two Rivers, to the city of Caemlyn and in to the depths of the rotting scenery of the Blight, Rand, Mat and Perrin are pitted against the Dark Lord almost against their will. But why? What does the Dark Lord want from them, and what does the Aes Sedai Moiraine want from them, and what do they really want?
My favourite parts are the chapters away from Rand, when our group of heroes are scattered to the wind. In particular, Egwene and Perrin, out in the wilderness are brilliantly done. The character development and world building is at its strongest when we’re not focused on Rand. As much as I love him, he’s an all-too-perfect hero and the smaller characters get more affection from me.
As the series go on, your allegiances swing back and forth between the characters, and the world really takes shape, but this is where it all begins, and it’s this book that needs to make the biggest impact. In many ways it does, if you can leave the LOTR knock-offs to one side. You have a thrilling, swashbuckling and often nerve-wracking story that carries through the 700 pages with barely a breath to spare. It will make you turn to the “preview” at the back of the book, and race to pick up the next one (and the next one and the next one).
Have you read any of the Wheel of Time series?