Saturday, December 5, 2015

Eye of the World Book Review

by The Wanderer

Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Series: The Wheel of Time Book One
Pages: 814

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“The Wheel of Time turns, and ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend.  Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.”
With these words the first chapter of Robert Jordan’s epic Wheel of Time series begins.  A fantasy series so long and large it has come to symbolically redefine what people thought the word epic could mean in the fantasy genre.

It is a series that is nearly four times longer than the seven books that make up the Harry Potter series, with one prequel book, and fourteen other books, The Wheel of Time can keep a reader occupied for quite some time.

The Eye of World is a classic hero vs villain fantasy story.  A poor shepherd and his friends get caught in the coming conflict with a dark and powerful villain.  The ordinary farmers learn that they are more than just ordinary, which leads begins to lead them on a path to learn and develop skill sets that will be needed to fight evil.

Despite being a more traditional styled fantasy series, Jordan still manages to bring intrigue and suspense to his story, along with very detailed descriptions of a great new fantasy world.  The Eye of the World is the beginning of a series that promises to be fulfilling.

The Eye of the World focuses on shepherd Rand al’Thor and his friends Mat Cauthon, Perrin Ayabara, Nynaeve al’Maera, and Egwene al’Vere as the get caught up in a conflict with the Dark One, a reemerging force of evil.

Forced from their home in Two Rivers, Rand and company must leave home and head to Tar Valon where they are supposed to meet with the powerful and magical Aes Sedai, who can keep them safe and teach them their secrets.

The good vs evil conflict that makes up the heart of The Wheel of Time resembles the good vs evil conflict that made up Lord of the Rings.  In Jordan’s story though there are more ambiguities in between though.  The end goal in Wheel of Time is clear, but all of the parts in the middle are less so, especially the motives of the Aes Sedai.

Jordan creates fairly solid characters although at times that can feel like they each embody a sort of personality stereotype.  Rand is a strong enough character to carry the story though.  Moiraine and Lan also turn out to very intriguing due to the lives they have lived and the institutions they represent.  Nynaeve (pronounced Ny – neve) stands out due to her stubborn personality and her naive way of looking at the world.  Her name sounds like pun on the word naive, but they way she clashes with all of the other characters makes her engaging to the reader.

Most of the quote-unquote bad guys in the story are not human.  They are either Trollocs, goat like monster men, or Fades, which are faceless, black cloaked, fear inspiring demons.  However, the Darkfriends, or humans who serve the dark lord, in the story allow the evils of humanity to be showcased, too.

Magic plays a large part in the story, and the interesting thing about the magic in The Wheel of Time is that is separated by gender.  The type of magic done by women in this series is different from the type of magic that can be done by men.  Although in this world, when men do magic they appear to go insane.  Because of this, they are usually sought out by the powers of the world to be named as Darkfriends, and killed.  Women with magical potential on the other hand can train and become Aes Sedai.
Prophecy is also a central part to the story, and the central prophecy Jordan’s story, which is essentially told in the prologue, is called the prophecy of the Dragon Reborn.  This prophecy is one of the best I’ve encountered in a fantasy series due to it being both prophecy that seems to create a hero and villain at the same time.

Of all the strong points in Jordan’s writing though, his strongest point would have to be his world-building skills.  The Wheel of Time’s world is thoroughly laid out.  Cities, fields, trees, rivers, and all things beautiful and terrifying are described by the author in a way that attaches the reader to the world.

The Eye of the World has all of the classic elements of a Tolkien inspired, good vs evil type of fantasy.  There is love, adventure, battles, and wonder.  Prophecies and character ambiguities add mystery to the story, and intrigue to certain character’s motives.  The setting, the world itself, is one of the most detail oriented and constructed worlds in the genre.  All of these ideas combine into a great story that is The Eye of the World.

Score: 9.1

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