The Eye of the World is the first book in Robert Jordan’s international bestselling Wheel of Time series. I’ve been eyeing this series up for a long time, but have been put off by the prohibitive length of each installment and the size of the series.
(Cue the Lord of the Rings music)
The Eye of the World is about three friends who have grown up together in the Two Rivers (Shire) and have known nothing else all their lives. The day before a big winter festival a gleeman, a peddler and two strange, but exotic, looking people, Moiraine Sedai (Lady Gandalf) and Lan the Warder (Strider/Aragon) turn up at their village. The village is attacked later that evening by Trollocs (trolls crossed with orcs?)led by a Fade (Wraiths). Rand al’Thor (Frodo) and his father are isolated at their farm but manage to escape. Moiraine and Lan manage to save the village without any major casualties. Rand and his friends, Mat (Merry) and Perrin (Pippin) learn that the Dark One (Sauron)is after one or all three of them and that they must leave the Two Rivers or risk bringing more Trolloc’s down on their village. So begins their adventure. Snide comments aside, the Lord of the Rings influences are really obvious and therefore very distracting. The book even has its version of Buckleberry Ferry and Bree! The writing itself is solid and sturdy fare, but not really something to rave about. The book runs to 782 pages and could have done with a more judicious editing down. There are a few chapters towards the middle that are all about Rand and Mat stopping at an inn in every village they pass through to play at being entertainers. Really? I’m sure Jordon good have put across the main story points for those chapters in much fewer words.
Despite the Lord of the Ring likenesses and the length, it isn’t difficult to engage with the characters and the storytelling elements are for most part strong and interesting. It is particularly endearing that the three young men are not portrayed as blademasters or having any special quality other than the curiosity of youth and the desire to experience something of the big world (just like Hobbits, no?), but also, the story, as well as being of epic proportions, has that epic feel of grand narrative. Its to the writer’s credit that I started reading the second book, The Great Hunt, with only a day’s break in between. For fans of Lord of the Rings and epic, high fantasy, what are you waiting for? This is a goodread.