Hello, everyone! Today I’m bringing you my review of The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan. I’ve wanted to read this book (and the rest of the series) for years, but it has always been a little intimidating. I’ve already struggled through one epic fantasy series, The Sword of Truth, and wasn’t really ready to commit to another. Funny enough, the same thing that made me pick up The Sword of Truth finally made me decide to take the plunge with this one too, someone turned it into a TV show. I hate watching a movie/TV adaptation without reading the book first, and I couldn’t bring myself to watch it without reading it so soon after breaking that rule for Dune, which I promise I’ll get around to reading before the next movie comes out… Anyway, the point is I finally read The Eye of the World, and I have some thoughts. Here they are!
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
Moiraine Damodred arrives in Emond’s Field on a quest to find the one prophesized to stand against The Dark One, a malicious entity sowing the seeds of chaos and destruction. When a vicious band of half-men, half beasts invade the village seeking their master’s enemy, Moiraine persuades Rand al’Thor and his friends to leave their home and enter a larger unimaginable world filled with dangers waiting in the shadows and in the light.
I’ve had my eye on this series for years, but I never committed to reading it because of its length and the mixed reviews I’ve seen of it. Before diving into the weeds a bit, I’ll just give my vague impression of the book. In short, I agree with both the positive and negative reviews I’ve seen of it. There were things I really loved, and things that got on my nerves a lot. I’ve also seen a number of reviews that claimed the book was a rip off of Tolkien, which I can sort of see. It has many of the same themes as Lord of the Rings and similar plot details, as well. However, this book felt more accessible than much of Tolkien’s work, and it felt familiar but also new in comparison to those older tales. The biggest thing I took away from this book, though, was awe at the grandiosity of the scale. It was nothing short of epic, and it was only the first part of a 14? book story.
The world-building in this book was nothing short of phenomenal. The society was complex, and the use of multiple locales and such a wide cast gave a teasing glimpse of so many aspects of this world I hope are explored further in other books. The feeling of rich, deep history helped make this world feel real and left me wanting to learn so much more about how these characters fit into the intricate tapestry of civilizations, magic, and destiny unveiled here. The author was also incredibly skilled at creating the ambience and mood of the settings. My favorite thing about the book was the intense feeling of haunting and dread I felt while reading about the village at the beginning of the story, mostly because of the way the descriptions set the stage so well. Despite enjoying the world in which the story was set, it was not always laid out in the best possible manner. There were parts I found confusing and others that seemed forced or rushed to explain away things. However, for the most part, I came away from this story feeling like it made good sense and set up a lot of interesting things for the future.
The plot was a fairly basic fantasy plot with many very familiar tropes. The Dark One has been trapped for a long time but was now breaking free. There was one who can stop him, but no one knew their identity. The story followed a group of people from a small village thrust into the action when they learned one of them could be the key to stopping the rising evil. The action largely take place in three phases: the attack on the village that forces the heroes from home, the chase/journey, and the confrontation with the Dark One. I loved the first part of the story about the happenings at the village. The ambience, pacing, and writing were all fantastic, and I thought it set the story and characters up very well. The journey had some interesting bits, but it is one of my least favorite fantasy tropes for a reason. It became incredibly repetitive, and, while there were some truly great moments and world-building in this part of the story, I found myself getting bored with it. Then the ending felt like it came out of nowhere. It resolved some of the mysteries from earlier in the story, but I don’t think there was enough foreshadowing/explanation about the eye of the world. It felt like the story completely changed direction right before the end just so it could have an interesting climax, and I was annoyed by it.
I enjoyed so many of the characters and am really looking forward to seeing where their stories go in future books. I loved Moiraine for her strength, cunning, and mystery, and I’m looking forward to hopefully getting some of the mystery resolved in future stories. In general, I found the concept of the Aes Sedai fascinating, and I can’t wait to learn more about them. Rand embodied so many of my favorite tropes that I couldn’t not like his character (chosen one, unknown identity, unlikely/unwilling hero, etc.). My favorite of the boys had to be Perrin, though, because I adored the wolves so much. Mat was great, too, and I enjoyed his character arc. It was interesting to slowly watch him change and be overcome by fear and mistrust due to the effects of the dagger. I just wish he had actually played some role in overcoming its effects rather than relying solely on Moiraine to fix him. The other characters rounded out the cast perfectly and created interesting dynamics that helped keep me engaged with the story in its duller moments, but I don’t have the time or space to get into why I liked them all because there were so many.
Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I can definitely see why it has been so popular even if it is somewhat bloated and repetitive at times. It’s massive scope, likeable/relatable characters, and use of popular tropes made it an interesting and enjoyable read despite the boring bits. Overall, I recommend all fantasy readers give it a shot and rate it 4 out of 5 stars.