The Eye of the World—Book Review

Posted on by marvazon

I first heard about The Wheel of Time series of books a year ago, but after gleaning the word count of the first few novels, I shied away. Seeing it on a great many lists of “must-read” fantasy novels, however, started to sway me. I eventually purchased an e-Book version of the first story, The Eye of the World.

To call this book epic is an understatement. From the very beginning, the author, Robert Jordan, plants the seed for a staggering storyline, or so it seemed. The first thing I noticed within the first few pages was the depth of description for absolutely everything, sometimes stretching scenes out unnecessarily. I didn’t completely mind this, I must add, as I sometimes enjoyed visualising every last detail.

Following the brief, but effective prologue, it didn’t take me long to figure out the formula of the story, an unknowing group of young, reluctant heroes, who must go on a long quest to thwart a rising dark lord. I immediately thought to myself, Tolkien, but more importantly, I wondered, “hasn’t this been done so many times?”

The difference I found with this book, however, was the execution and depth of the civilisation Jordan created. The result is a world rich with life, age-old traditions, vast magic, and normal human emotions.

To write an epic fantasy novel, and not wield comparisons to Tolkien is almost unheard of. The man was practically the creator of high fantasy. Although similar in its initial concept, The Eye of the World is a completely different entity. For one, it relies more heavily on magic. I also felt that the characters had a more playful edge about them.

Ultimately, this story boils down to age-old tales of good and evil, a formula that existed long before Tolkien, and one embraced by most aspects of story telling, whether crime, romance or fantasy novels.

I found myself excited while reading this book, constantly wanting to know what happened next. I enjoyed scenes with a character named Morraine—a woman who belonged to a sisterhood known as Aes Sedai—the main wielder of magic in the story.

Her role in the novel bore some similarities to Gandalf from The Lord of the Rings, I thought. One of her primary objectives was to seek out young men and women from a small town, informing them of the part they needed to play in thwarting the Dark Lord.

Her sternness, extreme knowledge and potent use of magic intrigued me, constantly leaving me to ponder on her true motives. I noticed this as something Jordan played on, where most of the series protagonist continually doubted her true allegiances, thinking of her sisterhood as possibly evil too.

Instances such as these littered the book, the heroes on their quest with Morraine, hunting the Dark Lord, but also facing others who do not believe them to be without evil in their hearts.

Also firmly against the shadow are those known as The Children of The Light—a society holding strict beliefs dedicated to the defeat of the Dark One—who distrust all Aes Sedai, believing them to be associated with the very evil that taints the world.

This element of the story helps in blurring the line of the traditional good versus evil I mentioned before, with the perspective of multiple characters in the book considered.

In regards to the story’s length, I initially didn’t find it a problem ploughing through each chapter. I soon started feeling, however, that Jordan was simply rehashing the same scenes over different locations, with nothing new or unexpected happening. Had he not done this, I believe the novel’s length could have been trimmed considerably. That is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the many conflicts. I actually foundJordan’s description of action scenes rather vivid, and didn’t mind seeing many enjoyable—if repetitive—battles. 

Upon reaching the end of the story, I found myself satisfied with the climax, leaving me wondering why the series needed fourteen more books to reach its conclusion. That aside, however, taking this book as an isolated read, I found it hugely enjoyable at times, and would recommend it to the more patient readers. Four out of five stars.

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