I have read my fair share of doorstopper epic fantasy series. From Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire, I’m always on the lookout for a new immersive fantasy world to get lost in. So when a friend recommended Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, the first book in The Wheel of Time series, I was immediately intrigued.
After finishing the 784 page tome, I have to say I’m impressed. Jordan has created a fully realized and expansive world that clearly has an extensive backstory and mythology, even if we are only getting a small glimpse of it in this first installment.
|Title||The Eye of the World|
|Publication Date||January 15, 1990|
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A Tried and True Tale
The plot focuses on a group of villagers from the Two Rivers, led by three ta’veren (individuals who warp reality around them): Rand, Mat, and Perrin. After their village is attacked by the sinister Dark One’s forces, they are whisked away on an epic quest by the legendary Aes Sedai sorceress Moraine and her warder Lan.
I found the storyline engaging but fairly straightforward. It mostly follows the standard fantasy template – humble villagers get caught up in a battle between good and evil and go on a journey where they discover powers and abilities they never knew they had.
The story is told from multiple perspectives which allows us insights into what several key characters are thinking and experiencing. I particularly enjoyed the chapters from brave archer girl Egwene’s point of view. However, Rand, Mat, and Perrin still feel a bit two-dimensional at this point. I hope Jordan spends more time developing them as individuals in later books.
Immersive World Building
Where the book really shines is the world building. Jordan spends a lot of time painting a rich tapestry of diverse cultures, histories, and magic systems. The division between male and female magic wielders was fascinating, with men who can channel described as going mad and women having to live in secluded Aes Sedai compounds.
I also enjoyed the mystical intrigue surrounding the ancient Aes Sedai artifacts and lore. What exactly happened in the historic Breaking of the World? What secrets are hidden in the majestic White Tower? And why are the Aes Sedai interested in Rand, Mat, and Perrin? Jordan teases just enough backstory and mythology to pique your interest.
My main criticism here is that so much time is spent on world building that the pace slows significantly midway through the novel. I didn’t mind too much since I was enjoying exploring this new fantasy realm, but some readers might find parts dragging.
Opinion: A Promising Start
Overall, I found The Eye of the World to be a highly promising start to Jordan’s epic saga. It introduces intriguing characters and lays the groundwork for an expansive world full of history and magical systems. I appreciated Jordan’s lush descriptions and sensuous writing style that makes even ordinary objects like cloaks and daggers feel visceral and real.
That said, the book is clearly just the opening chapter, so readers may find themselves waiting for more payoff by the last page. My personal highlights were learning tidbits about the Aes Sedai and getting to know the determined Egwene. I believe fans of methodical and detailed fantasy storytelling will find enjoyment here. This is a series I will certainly continue.
While The Eye of the World doesn’t necessarily break new ground in the fantasy genre, Jordan successfully spins an engaging adventure tale and seeds an intricate new fantasy mythology that left me eager to read on. I’d recommend this book to anyone looking to immerse themselves in an original and well-built imaginary world. Wheel of Time, turn for me!