Hello everyone! Today I’m going to talk about Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World. Originally published in 1990, it is the first book in the epic high fantasy series The Wheel of Time.
I read The Eye of the World for the first time almost sixteen years ago. Back then I was completely obsessed; I think it was the first thing that I went full on ‘fangirl‘ for.
Just a warning, this is a long one so I’ve summed it up in about three or four sentences right at the end.
I loved The Wheel of Time and spurred on by my best friend’s equal love, I threw myself into the fandom. I wrote fan-fiction and also participated in Wheel of Time play by post role-play over at the long since retired The Wheel of Time RP. I chose my Ajah, joined discussion forums and talked endlessly with my best friend, and whomever else would listen, about the series. Until finally, I just lost interest.
The series is a long one; fourteen books in total, published over the course of twenty-three years. Brandon Sanderson wrote the final three books after Jordan sadly passed away in 2007. I think I got to book nine, Winter’s Heart, before I gave up, I certainly don’t remember reading the others.
Then last August, my interest for the series was once again piqued when I stumbled across new covers for the series. I ought to add; I’m not one to judge a book by it’s cover or to buy books just because I think they’re pretty, but when I do and I can afford it, it’s a bonus.
@DeweyGirlUK Yes you do! The spines make a picture.
— Orbit Books (@orbitbooks) August 21, 2015
The Eye of the World follows Rand al’Thor and his friends, Matrim (Mat) Cauthon, Perrin Aybara, Egwene al’Vere and Nynaeve al’Meara. The group are forced to flee their comfortable existence in the village of Emond’s Field following an attack by the eyeless Myrdraal and its band of animal-human hybrids, Trollocs, who are intent on capturing the three boys.
The group are taken under the wing of a sorceress-type woman, an Aes Sedai, called Moiraine and her bodyguard Lan and accompanied by an entertainer, the gleeman Thom Merrilin.
They’re driven across their country of Andor, far further than they’ve ever been before, to towns and cities straight out of stories. On their journey they are split into three groups and each have wildly different experiences.
Finally, they are driven to the Borderlands and into the Blight, a rotting, deadly wasteland that has been consumed by the evil of the Dark One. There they must face evil that they could only ever have imagined.
I took an age to read The Eye of the World; around two weeks or so. It’s around seven hundred and seventy pages long and each page is darned wordy! Robert Jordan could never be accused of being brief.
Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed it for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it was a nostalgic read for me; I was so into this series all of those years ago that rereading it brought back all of the excitement that I felt then. Secondly, I’m a big fan of fantasy and especially high fantasy; I always have been, and so The Eye of the World really appealed to me on that level.
The world building in this series is absolutely phenomenal. I know, from my previous foray into The Wheel of Time, just how vast the world is but it’d be evident to any first time reader, I think. Cities, towns and even villages are described using townspeople’s anecdotes and historical context where possible. This may not be everyone’s cup of tea but for me, it really helps to throw me into a world and it was a huge part of what got me excited about this series in the first place.
There’s a glossary in the back, which explains Jordan’s intended pronunciation and provides a little paragraph about each entry. There are also a couple of companion books to the series; The World of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, which features some terrible illustrations, and The Wheel of Time Companion, which is really just a fully compiled glossary.
My favourite characters in this book are Moiraine and Lan, the Aes Sedai and her Warder. Aes Sedai are like witches, I suppose. Although in a Wheel of Time context, ‘witch’ is only ever used as a derogatory term. Aes Sedai can wield the One Power, essentially they’re elemental witches who can perform miraculous feats using combinations of air, water, earth, fire and spirit. They’re divided into factions called Ajah; Moiraine is Blue, concerned with justice, I would totally be a Brown Ajah, dedicated to the search for knowledge, because I’m a Librarian of course!
I love Aes Sedai as characters probably because they’re not a two dimensional group. Each Ajah has its own motivations and each woman has her own single minded approach to their cause, which can make them difficult to like. Incidentally, that they’re mostly disliked, misunderstood or mistrusted is a central element of Aes Sedai as characters. This is, in part, with good reason; they’re often a sneaky and manipulative bunch.
I just love how stony faced and hard Lan is! He’s such a stark contrast to most of the others in the group that you have to wonder what they teach at Warder school. Also, there’s just something intriguing about his relationship with Moiraine, the Warder- Aes Sedai relationship, and the connection between those who share a bond (in this case, a magically endowed bond).
I love the concept of the Wolfkin/Wolfbrothers too. I don’t want to give too much away about certain characters to those who might not have read the book yet so I won’t mention names. Basically, these are folk who can communicate with wolves, I hesitate to use the word ‘talk’. I think it’s probably because I enjoy the wolves more than the people; I actually cried when one died. Also, they way that they ‘speak’ which is in feelings, senses and pictures, really appeals to me. I think it’s beautiful.
So, on the flip side, what you might not like about this book is that its super long. Some have accused Robert Jordan of ‘purple prose’ but I don’t think his writing is overly descriptive or flowery. Where I think The Eye of the World might fall down a little is that around two thirds of the book is just about a few groups of people travelling to a place. The final perhaps two hundred pages is the entire climax of the book, including discovering what they must do, formulating a plan, travelling the dangerous road to their location, arriving and facing the untold evil! That’s usually a whole book right there. Like I said, Robert Jordan can’t ever be accused of being brief. Then, neither can I.
He’s also been accused of being unoriginal but I tend to disagree. Whilst there are parallels with other fantasy stories, I don’t think that can be avoided when there is such a wide variety of source materials used to build worlds such as Middle Earth and the Dune universe. Also, I think Ecclesiastes 1:9 says it all:
What has been will be again,
What has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
Over all, I was not in the least bit disappointed with my re-read. It was a long old haul to get to the end but I enjoyed the characters so thoroughly, even those that I didn’t warm too- Egwene- ugh, that it was definitely worth it and I’m looking forward to reading the next! 4 out of 5 stars!
TL:DR The Eye of the World is about some teens who find out they’re the chosen few and so set out to defeat evil. It was good, but long, but good. There are some awesome characters and great world building. I look forward to the next! 4 out of 5 stars!
I’m going to be reading a book from The Wheel of Time series every month until April 2017 so watch this space for future lengthy reviews!!