I’m surprised at myself for not reviewing it in a post earlier, as I read it last year, but I’ll do a small version here and now. *Some Slight Spoilers Ahead*
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. [Via Goodreads]
Robert Jordan’s epic The Eye of the World, the first in his Wheel of Time series, is clearly inspired (like many pieces of high fantasy) by Tolkien, but by the end of this first book it moves into its own territory nicely. The Eye of the World starts out with a major quest with nearly a dozen storylines, a fated hero destined to go mad and possibly save the world–or destroy it in his throes of insanity. It’s a compelling read and well-written.
Rand al’Thor, Mat Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara are all ta’veren (meaning that the Wheel of Time, the force which moves the universe forward, fating all things, has chosen them in some fashion to play significant parts in the events to come). They each come from similar humble backgrounds, and they will all grow into something great–and one of them may destroy the world while trying to save it. This is a nice, well-trodden trope. It works well, and Jordan plays it rather predictably with Rand (*ahem* Frodo) and Mat and Perrin (Merry and Pippin), who fight off Trollocs and Myrddraal (Orcs and Nazgûl) with the help of a wandering Warder (who is not-so-subtly hinted to actually be a king) and a wizard, as they try to contain the Dark One’s spirit from further contaminating the world. Sound familiar?
Despite the absolute mirrorlike similarity to Tolkien in some cases, I really liked this first installment in the series. More than that: it was absolutely excellent. I loved it completely. For example: where Tolkien lacks in strong female characters (or, I should say that he doesn’t spend the time to develop them onstage), Jordan delights in them. I love Egwene and Nynaeve who are developing their powers along with Moiraine, because this is often missing from fantasy. They are incredibly strong, and believably so, and I can’t wait to see where their stories will go over the next hundred thousand pages. Jordan’s writing style is immensely relatable and easygoing. He’s not overly pedantic, and his pace is enjoyable.
Now, I know what you’ll say. Don’t get your hopes up. Everything is going to change after this book. Some people love the changes, some hate them. I’ll see eventually. After this book, I’ve been told that you either love Jordan or you hate him. I’m interested to see how he (and Brandon Sanderson) can stretch this story for more than a dozen books, because it’s going to be a mean feat. It’ll be a long ride, but I’m up for it!