The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
(The Wheel of Time, Book 1)
Publication Date: 1990
Purchase on Amazon
Synopsis via Goodreads: The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
I feel like my reading theme this year has been: books I’ve been meaning to read for a really, really long time and for some reason keep putting off.
Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time is probably one of the most well-known fantasy series of all time — almost entirely due to its immense length. At 14 books in total (with the addition of a prologue novel) the series is nearly 4.5 million words and 12,000 pages long. If you wanted to listen to the entire series through audiobook it would take you almost 20 days of non-stop listening. Needless to say, this series intimidated the hell out of me. And while I knew how adored it was, I found the whole thing to be a bit daunting and I never really seriously considered starting it.
It also doesn’t help that most of the synopses I had read of the first book, The Eye of the World, were so vaguely written (see above) that I never really knew what the books were actually about. And with the fear of spoilers, I didn’t read into it much further than glancing at a couple spoiler-free reviews on Goodreads.
Once I started reading it I kind of understand why this was the case as the story is a bit hard to summarise in a neat little paragraph. But it might still help someone on the fence to know a couple general details about the stories plot. As far as the first book goes, The Eye of the World is about a quest involving a small group of friends from a village similar to Hobbiton in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. As a matter of fact, this book has been compared countless times to Tolkien’s narrative. The pilgrimage involves traversing through unfamiliar, magical, and dangerous territories throughout the world with the guidance of a character of the magical persuasion. Again, similar to Lord of the Rings, but if you’re into that kind of thing than this is the book for you!
The characters of The Eye of the World are interesting as individuals and in terms of their group dynamic. Unlike Lord of the Rings, three of the main characters in The Eye of the World are female and arguably more powerful than their male travel companions. I loved the female characters as they each came with their own individual trials and goals and were driven towards knowledge and protecting those who they cared about. I feel as though the male characters didn’t quite appreciate the importance of their female companions, but I found that the women weren’t at all concerned with how the men in the group viewed their place and contribution to their quest. They recognised their own importance without any men legitimising their place and purpose (and I super loved that).
The world building in the first instalment of The Wheel of Time is outstanding, as I suspected it would be. Jordan created a world so rich with history and culture that I felt like I was stepping through a portal everytime I picked up the book. While some readers might find the book moves along slowly, I feel that this slow pace allowed Jordan to more effectively bring his world to life. My favourite parts of the story were the main characters meeting everyday people such as farmers living out in the world, hearing their own perspectives on the towns they live near and the current conflict in the world. These interactions with the ‘common folk’ widen the reach of the main quest and showed how much was at stake for not just the protagonists, but also for the rest of the world.
So one of the main questions I had for myself before I started reading The Eye of the World was whether or not I would feel the urge to continue on this 14 book, 12,000-page reading adventure. And the answer is yes, yes, yes. I’ve already bought book two, The Great Hunt, and I’m looking forward to starting it soon. I’m giving The Eye of the World 5 stars because I’m hooked, I love the characters and the world, I love Robert Jordan’s writing, and I love the immense attention to detail. This is an extremely strong start to what I know will be an unforgettable series.