|The Eye of the World|
Author: Robert Jordan
Series: The Wheel of Time, Book 1
Review by: CL4 Faile ni Bashere t'Aybara
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Generic Synopsis: An Aes Sedai sorceress whisks three farm boys away from their village, knowing that one of them will one day have to save the world as the Dragon Reborn. They are pursued by the forces of the Dark One who will stop at nothing to get this individual under their control. After a long and harrowing journey, they must face the Dark Oneís most powerful minions in a climactic showdown at the Eye of the World, during which the Dragon Reborn will reveal himself.
Iím kind of partial to Book I since it was the first plunge into a whole new wonderful world. Not since Dune has such a complete and lively universe been brought to life so well in one book, in my opinion. The plot of the story is very well established and tightly paced from start to finish. Book I stands on its own, without any additional elaboration required, more than any other book in the series. This makes sense, since RJ wasnít sure how far he was going to take the series at the time he wrote the first one. But far and away, this is the most action packed book youíll find until Book 4. A heck of a lot is going on, especially stuff that will make much better sense with later books.
Oh, and one very important note: Egwene, Nynaeve, and Elayne get hardly any page time in this story, which is nice (trust me) before you get tormented by the hundreds of pages they suck the life out with their childish inanity in the upcoming books.
One specific quality of Book I that I like is its narrative structure. It knows exactly where its going, with a clear introduction (Emondís Field), rising action (fleeing the Two Rivers), turning point (dispersal after Shadar Logoth), falling action (running the Blight), climax (the Eye), and denouement (Randís realization). Some great scenes along the way: our first meeting of Trollocs at Randís farm, Moiraine taking on an army of Fades and Trollocs in the woods, the botched escape from Shadar Logoth, our first trip through the Ways, and our first (and only) good look at the Blight.
There are two gaping areas of relative slack in the story. The first is the beginning of the book, in which nothing important of note happens till 67 pages in. That first 67 pages is interminable to slog through, especially since it mostly consists of exposition on minor characters that we are really going to never see again. I feel it could have been condensed. Also, the part where Mat and Rand flee Whitebridge for Caemlyn. This is a VERY long stretch of book, during which nothing happens of note with anybody except for Mat and Rand going from town to town over and over again. Boring. I realize this is stylized to make us feel their plight more acutely, but it still should have been shortened.
The climactic scene I have a bit of a beef with also. I donít know about you, but the first time I read it, I had NO idea what was going on. The Tree Man, the Eye of the World itself, the show down with multiple Forsaken. What? A lot of this stuff is explained better in later books, but the first book is very confusing the first time around at this point. One further nit: our first good look at the Forsaken reveals them to be total pussies. Balthamel does nothing, Moiraine handles Aginor, Rand takes down Ishamael no sweat. Everything leading up to this made us believe the Forsaken were badass, but this first at bat they totally struck out. Which leads to our next point: by the time itís all said and done, NONE OF THE GOOD GUYS DIE. Itís like a childrenís fairy tale ending: evil vanquished and the heroes live happily ever after. Come on, great sacrifice makes a great victory all the more meaningful. Whereís the validation if there was no risk?
RJ bolts out of the gates with style. Despite bumpy parts, he spins a mean yarn that is hard to put down once begun. The reason why it is superior to later books is because it has a clear vision of what it is trying to accomplish within its time frame, and stays on the path, with a minimum of extraneous fluff, till it reaches its destination. Out of the first 9 books, "Eye of the World" ranks #2.
Title: The Eye of the World