Book Review – The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World” is the first book in Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic “The Wheel of Time.”  It’s sometimes considered a modern take on Tolkien’s world, although I haven’t seen any dwarves or elves.  I can see some parallels plot-wise, but I’d like to consider this book on its own merits.  I don’t like comparing to other books.

This series came highly recommended to me by a friend who loves “The Wheel of Time.”  I’d already had most of the series, though I hadn’t read any of it. Well, I finally started it, and I’d have to say my initial reaction wasn’t very favourable.  I’ll get to that in a moment.

The story starts out with a prologue, which sets a bit of a background for the events that will happen in the book.  It then moved forward to our main story, featuring a trio of sheepherders, tall and strong Rand, prankster Mat, and stocky Perrin.  These three, as well as a few other characters meet a mysterious woman and man, and are swept into a long journey of self-discovery and a quest to save the world from an evil being.  Sounds like a pretty typical fantasy epic storyline.  It is a pretty standard story, but from what I’ve heard, the books after this are quite different.

It’s said in this book that time repeats itself.  Ages come and go in a forward progression of time, but the events that happen are repeated many times, though by different people who are actually incarnations of people in previous ages.  It’s an interesting concept, so I wasn’t exactly sure if each book would just repeat the same kind of story or not.  As far as I know, that’s not the case.  It’s a very, very long epic story involving the same characters.  I’m interested to see how it progresses.

As I said before, my initial reaction wasn’t very favourable.  The story progressed very slowly, and I found it somewhat difficult to get into it.  The characters weren’t very engaging, and I just couldn’t get attached to any of them.  I felt no sympathy for them.  But they did grow on me over time.  This is the kind of story that you just have to stick with to the end to be satisfied.  In the last quarter of the book, relationships between characters were moving in interesting ways, and questions were finally being answered.  There were a lot of mysteries presented earlier on in the book, and I was looking forward to seeing them resolved.  However, by the end of the book, several mysteries were still unresolved.  It ended with the main story concluded, but it also opened the way for a much bigger story to be told.  It looks like it’ll be a very large epic story to come.

I felt like this book was a mediocre story most of the way, and I was thinking I’d have to give it a middle of the road 3 stars.  But the final quarter of the book redeemed it.  I’ll give it 4 out of 5 stars.  It’s good if you’re patient, and I do recommend that you finish reading it.

3 thoughts on “Book Review – The Eye of the World”

  1. The first time I tried to read tEotW, I didn’t think very highly of it, for many of the same reasons you stated. The beginning is very derivative of LotR (They’re essentially leaving the Shire and being chased by the Nazgûl), But, stick with it, and it gets much better.

    Like a lot of epic fantasy, the author had an idea where the story was going, but totally underestimated the scope of his own story. Thus, things are set up early in the series that don’t necessarily come to fruition until much later. But it’s worth the payoff.

    You’ll enjoy Book 2 and Book 3, they open the world up more and are relatively fast paced. Book 4 starts to slow down somewhat, but it’s my favourite in the series. After that, the story keeps expanding and slowing, but it also gets richer and richer as time goes on, fleshing out the entire world and all the cultures and groups within. It’s certainly not a thriller, although there are quite a few scenes that had me staying up very late to finish. You’ll hear a lot of criticism about WoT’s slow pace, especially Books 5 – 10. The criticism is probably justified, to be honest, but I’ve been reading the series over and over for the last 15 years, so I think well worth it.

    One potential downside to reading the series now, is you’ve missed on on all the crazy conspiracy theories we used to endlessly debate on the internet. You mentioned some of the mysteries in The Eye of the World. Well, each book adds new mysteries, some of which take a LONG time to get solved. Some characters seem like they’re on the side of the Light, but are secretly on the side of the Dark One. Sometimes you know this LONG before the other characters do, which makes for some interesting tension. Debating who is secretly a Darkfriend consumed a lot of my internet bandwidth back in the day.

    On the other hand, you’re spared the at-least-two-year wait between books I’ve been suffering since I first had to wait for Book 8.

    Enjoy the rest!

    1. Thanks for the comment, Ryan. I am looking forward to it, though I have a lot of other books to read, too. It may be a while until I read book 2. Hopefully, I can read the current book much more quickly. I can’t wait to see the new mysteries.

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