Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Synopsis From Dust Jacket:

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, ad Age of Prophecy when the World and Time themselves hang in the balance, a wind rises in the mountains of mist...

and Rand al'Thor is cold.  Though the spring festival of Bel Tine come tomorrow, it is a year without spring, a year when green things fail and hope is dying.

It is a year of strangers; of a lady; and a gleeman with his tales of heroes; and a peddler with news of the present - of war with Ghealdan, far away, and of the rising of a false Dragon - the savior whose coming, foretold and dreaded, will bring a new Breaking to the World.  but the worst strangers are monsters Rand thought only legend - the bestial Trollocs, and the horrifying Halfmen, whose eyeless gaze is fear.

They want a boy on the brink of manhood, born within a certain span of months.  They want Rand himself, or his burly, deliberate friend Perrin, or the prankster Mat.

It is a world where nothing is what it seems.  Not Nynaeve, the village wisdom, who can Read the Wind.  Not Moiraine, the lady from outside, whose beauty hides a terrifying identity and a Power that seemed only yesterday to be the stuff of legend.  Not the lady's companion, Lan, whose chameleon cloak is stranger than the fluttering, multihued garment that proclaims the gleeman's trade of old Thom Merrilin.  And not Egwene, the innkeeper's dark-haired daughter, caught between childhood and womanhood, between love of Rand and determination to become all that her destiny would make her.

The villagers know only that Trollocs hunt them.  They have no way of knowing that the Dark One, imprisoned by the Creator at the moment of creation, is stirring in Shayol Ghul.

It is a time of prophecies to be fulfilled.  The Wheel of Time is weaving a Web in the Pattern of Ages, a Web to entangle the World.  It is a time when Time itself may die, when the Eye of the World may be blinded.  What was, and what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

This isn't going to be a review, because I suck at reviewing high fantasy.  I've gone back and read every review I've done of a fantasy book, and for whatever reason, I'm just not good at it.  I'm not sure if it's the scope of the books, as I tend to read fantasy that involves a slew of characters and can take place across kingdoms or encompass the entire planet.  It's hard to gather your thoughts on a book(s) that have such a scope, at least for me it is.  When it comes to the World of Time series by Robert Jordan, that handicap becomes even bigger for me.  There is just something so massive and unfathomable about the the world the author created in this series, that I wouldn't even know where to begin.  So instead I'm just going to give some brief thoughts.  They may not be logical or explanatory to most, but if you have read these books, you will know what I'm talking about.

I guess you can tell that I've read these books before.  The first eleven books, which Robert Jordan wrote before his death, have been read so many times, I've lost count.  I have yet to read the last two books that Brandon Sanderson wrote, and am looking forward to the third and final book in a few months time.  So I wanted to reread the first eleven books in order to refresh my mind on all the happenings and characters involved.

I'm a huge fan of the first book, The Eye of the World, and don't find it to be handicapped by the problem I have with most first books of a series.  Most authors use the first book to do the world building, the character introductions, and some basic back story narration.  And for most authors, that about it.  Robert Jordan, with this series, still does all that, but he includes it alongside a ton of action and a harrowing flight out of Edmond's Field, the village our young heroes hail from.  He's able to do everything needed to set up the rest of the series, without bogging it down.  I think that's one of the many reasons I fell in love with this series in college.

Obviously I love Rand, Perrin, Mat, Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne; they are the glue that holds these books together.  Even when they are being annoying, or doing something I can't stand, I never find myself not caring about what happens to them.

Moiraine, Lan, Siuan Sanche, and the rest of the Aes Sedai, along with their Warders, explore an aspect of magic that I'm pretty sure is unique to Robert Jordan.  It's hard to come up with an idea for the source of magic, especially in the fantasy world, so when it happens, it's something to be celebrated.  Speaking of Aes Sedai, can I just say how much I love Verin, even knowing what I know happens later on, I can't help but enjoy her.

I also enjoy the journey into the Borderlands, the kingdoms that protect the rest of the continent from the The Great Blight and the blasted lands.  It is nice to see the way in which Robert Jordan was able to give personality and structure to so many kingdoms, to make the unique and different from each other, but still be able to give a common purpose to this collective.  The journey into The Great Blight itself reminds me of a overly vivid nightmare, full of the worst things a brain can imagine.  I loved meeting the Green Man and wept when he met his fate.  It's a great bit of lore, and have been trying to remember what else I know about him and his origins.

Overall, this is a wonderful introduction to a series I love, and one that I look forward to getting to know once again.  Every time I read these books, I pick up something new that while I may have read it before, I didn't pay too much attention to it previously.  With each reread, my understanding of what Robert Jordan was able to produce, grows even more.


Blodeuedd said...

I am always done with my of the series, so close now :D

Sam (Tiny Library) said...

I made it up to book 6 a few years back, I was loving the series but for some reason I just stopped. Your post has made me want to reread!

Simcha said...

I've been tempted to reread this series just so I can read the ones by Brandon Sanderson but I don't think I'm going to do it. I actually think I gave up on the series after the third book because the women in it were so annoying. It gave me the impression that Jordan didn't really like women.

Staci said...

I started reading this series around 1996 and re-reading would be a great way to get back to this series. I loved everything about this first book, the world, characters, the name it!

Peter S. said...

Hi, Ryan! I've never read this. Actually, I even gave away my copy since just the thought of going through all the 10+ books is giving me indigestion. Hehehehehe.

Have you read Brandon Sanderson's high fantasy series? Book 1 is The Way of Kings and it's fantastic!

Alexia561 said...

Sad to say that I've never read this series. Not a huge fan of high fantasy, plus the sheer size of the books scares me off. Stop tempting me! ;)

Angela's Anxious Life said...

I need to give this another shot. YEARS ago I tried reading book 1 and didn't make it through I should give it another shot.