The Eye of the World
The Wheel of Time, book 1
by Robert Jordan
After their village is attacked by Trollocs in search of the Dragon Reborn, five villagers depart on a dangerous journey to uncover their powers and stop the Dark One.
Robert Jordan and this series have been on my radar for a while, but with a total of 14 lengthy books and a prequel, it was too big a commitment to take on. Until recently, with all the hype surrounding the books being adapted into a show, and the fantasy readers around me telling me how good it is, I finally decided to get the ball rolling and at least start the series. And I’m so glad I did.
Although this is a dense novel, it was certainly not a slog to get through. There are a lot of characters, groups, and locations, but they’re all explained and developed as needed without any disruptive info-dumping. I enjoyed learning about the world, and I liked all of the characters and seeing them learn about life outside their village and the powers that they never knew could be a part of them.
There’s action early on, just after we’ve gotten to know our main group enough to care about them, and a good balance of excitement and down time as the story progresses. Everything that happens plays some sort of role in moving things along and causing character growth, but there aren’t any easy outs or convenient solutions handed to the main characters either. Even the complex and powerful magic of the world has its flaws and limitations. It’s not a perfect craft, and takes a balance of wits and powers to get our main characters to the ending.
If you’re looking for a rich fantasy world with multiple compelling characters, and plenty of action, adventure, and magic, I’d recommend giving this series a try.
If you’ve already started reading it, or just don’t mind some light spoilers, continue on. If you don’t want anything specific from the book spoiled, thanks for coming by, but you should stop reading here.
– Spoilers beyond this point –
First, I want to talk about the main characters. Overall I liked all of them, and they worked well together as a group.
I liked Rand as the main character, although he is a bit of a classic fantasy hero – the unassuming boy from a rural town who finds out he isn’t exactly who he thought he was. That being said, he is very likable and, even early on, it’s easy to feel for him when his family is threatened and he begins his identity crisis.
I wish Mat got a bit more spotlight, he had some great moments before the group gets separated, but he was reasonably too preoccupied after that point to keep a forward role. I’m glad Perrin got good amount of attention. I found his character interesting as he grew and developed his newfound powers.
I’m not especially fond of Egwene at this point in the series, although I don’t have any real problem with her either. She’s introduced as the love interest then tags along with the boys because she wants an adventure too. It made sense later on why Moiraine allowed her to come though. I also like Moiraine, Lan, and Nynaeve as the guardians of the group, even if they weren’t really with the group and had occasionally conflicting priorities. The light romance added in felt misplaced given the situation, however.
As for everything else, I loved learning about the world and the different places. There’s so much to learn about and so many locations visited just in this first book. Plenty of characters come in and out of the main cast’s lives that enhance the world and add to the adventure as they make their way to regroup in Caemlyn. They likely would have been much worse off without the assistance of Thom, Elyas, and Loial.
The ending of the book added a lot to the world, which was both good and bad, in my opinion. It introduced more characters to the mix, something I’m sure there will be plenty more to come in the following books of the series. And the reveal of Rand as the Dragon Reborn was not a surprise given he takes the main perspective throughout the book and the other two boys aren’t doubting their family and have given at least glimpses into what their powers are. Still, it was a significant conclusion to the story and I’m assuming a major setup for the events of the next book.
I didn’t know much of anything about this series when I started it, other than it’s fantasy and it’s a long series, but I’m so glad I finally got around to starting it. I’m looking forward to continuing this series and see what’s in store for these characters and this world.