After several persistent recommendations from my brother, an avid reader of the fantasy genre, this summer, I finally decided to plunge myself into the first installment of the epic and grandiose fantasy book series The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan, specifically The Eye of the World. And what a grand venture it is with a span of 14 books, a prequel and two companion books.
Having really liked it, and currently being in the process of finishing book three of the series, I thought that a series of book reviews of the entire Wheel of Time series would be fun. And what better place to start than with book one? (I know what you’re thinking: Start with the prequel. However, this was in fact published after book ten, and it is recommended to read it then to be fully capable of understanding the story).
Introducing “The Eye of the World”
“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 returns again.“
The Eye of the World takes place in an unnamed world where time is a cyclical concept, described as a turning wheel. Everything that has happened and does happen will happen again.
Humans are the main inhabitants of the world we are introduced to, along with mystical creatures, such as Ogier and Trollocs, who in most parts of the lands are only thought to be things of stories.
Magic is a big part of the series. In this world, magic is used by channeling the One Power. However, only women are allowed to channel using their part of the Power, saidar, after the world was broken (an event known as the Breaking) by the corruption of the male part, saidin.
Because of this happening, male channelers are now neutralized to prevent something similar from taking place again. But a prophecy speaks of the rebirth of the Dragon, the only person to face the Dark One in the Last Battle to come. One can only wonder if this rebirth will take place within the series (wink wink).
With the foundation for the first book and the series as a whole set in place, let’s dive into a short summary of the story in The Eye of the World. Of course, I am obligated to declare “Spoiler Alert!”, even though I very much intend to keep the summary spoiler-free.
A Brief Summary
The story opens with a prologue that to a first-time reader is rather incomprehensible. Lews Therin Telamon, the Dragon, is approached by one of the Forsaken after having killed his entire family due to his madness caused by the taint on saidin. Ishamael, the Forsaken, tells him what he has done causing him to commit suicide.
Several thousand years after, in the Third Age, our main story begins. The story introduces us to five young people: Rand al’Thor, Matrim Cauthon, Perrin Aybara, Egwene al’Vere and Nynaeve al’Meara. All are living in the small peaceful village of Emond’s Field in the Two Rivers region. With the coming of Bel Tine, a strange woman and her companion arrive in the village.
Not surprisingly, the peace is ruined by servants of the Dark One. Assisted and accompanied by the two strangers, the five younglings set upon a long and strenuous journey. They must evade and fight evil forces on their way to the city of Tar Valon. But obviously, not everything goes according to plan.
My Thoughts on “The Eye of the World”
Finishing The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, you’re left with the feeling of a great adventure having begun. The story is pretty self-contained and closes up the main part of the plot for the book. In spite of this, the overall story is built upon and very clearly sets up the prospect of a continuation.
This is great, because I really like engaging myself in an epic tale. And with the first installment of this long series, I must say I am hooked. The world-building is very intriguing, and we are introduced to elements that I, personally, have not yet encountered in other fantasy series. I won’t mention what elements, because spoilers…
Having said that, the beginning of the book shares an uncanny resemblance to the first part of The Lord of the Rings. It is almost a one to one reproduction story-telling wise. Emond’s Field is like the Shire an isolated and quiet village. And the young protagonists must flee their peaceful home with evil forces at their heels. Just like Frodo and his fellow hobbits.
Jordan, however, has never denied the fact that he has drawn great inspiration from The Lord of the Rings. And seeing it as a tool to building the foundation for his story instead of seeing it as a question of copying, you will quickly come to accept the similarities.
Not long into The Eye of the World, the originality of the story is very evident. You become more focused on figuring out the world, the large cast of characters and the intricate system of magic, none the least. And Jordan keeps on building on this in the following books.
All in all
The Eye of the World is a solid fantasy novel setting the stage for a fantastic journey. I can definitely recommend the book to any person keen on a detailed world-building, exciting plot lines and intriguing character developments.
It is rather evident that Jordan uses this first book to establish the world in which the story is set and to introduce the characters to the reader. Nonetheless, he does manage to weave it together with a compelling story arc that is not irrelevant to the overarching plot.
During the story I as the reader was not completely emotionally involved with the characters. Initially, I found them rather bland and one-dimensional, but reaching the climax of the novel, they began to grow on me.
As already mentioned, I’m currently finishing up the third book in the series. And I must say that, in my opinion, the story only gets better with the following books. But that you’ll have to find out for yourself. So get readin’. And stay tuned for my review of the second installment in the series.
The Hard Facts
American author Robert Jordan was born in 1948 in Charleston, South Carolina. After having served in the Vietnam war, he received a degree in physics and worked as a nuclear engineer for the US Navy. Not until 1977, he began to write. In 2007, Jordan succumbed to illness before finishing The Wheel of Time series. Brandon Sanderson, another fantasy writer, was chosen to write the remaining books.
The Eye of the World is the first installment of the grand fantasy series. It was first published in 1990 by publishing companies Tor Books in the US and Orbit in the UK.
The series is currently in the works as a TV-series produced by Amazon Studios and Sony Pictures. With filming having begun in the fall of this year, it probably won’t be long until its premiere.
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The Eye of the World