fantasy

The Eye of The World | Book Review

Eye of The World cover

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Title: The Eye of the World
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Author: Robert Jordan
Published: January, 2020
Length: 814 pages

Several young adults from a small village get pulled into a quest, alongside a sort-of sorceress and her protector, to keep the Dark One from taking over the world. The vast majority of the book is spent traveling across the countryside due to various mishaps and encounters with creatures of the Dark One keeping the characters from where they need to go. That’s all the summary I’m going to bother with because, well, this book is basically a classic by now.

Minor spoiler alert! I don’t generally include spoilers in my reviews, but this isn’t a review to tell you whether you should read The Eye of the World because if you have a strong interest in fantasy, particularly epic, then you probably should at some point. Instead, I’m treating this more as a discussion of the particularities of what I liked, which means referencing some specifics. These aren’t enough to truly spoil the book, but if you prefer to go in completely blind, then I would suggest you skip this post. On that note, please avoid spoilers for future books in the comments; I’ve been having a hard enough time dodging them as it is.

This book is pretty solid all-around, so I’m going to focus mostly on the smaller aspects that I noticed. First, I appreciated that we got to be in Rand’s point of view for a good chuck of time while we got settled into the world, and only then started to switch around POVs. I enjoyed the great variety of characters, though I know that soon I’m going to have an incredibly difficult time keeping track of them all. My favorite character so far is Perrin. He’s reliable and realistic without being annoying. Plus, I’m so interested in learning more about his… ability thing. I liked a lot of the side-elements that came up (the traveling people, learning to perform in inns, the palace detour). The main plot of the book was very straightforward (and very Lord of the Rings), but these smaller elements help to build up a vast and detailed world that promises much more intricate plotting to come.

This brings up a bit of an issue that I’m having in rating this book: even though I haven’t read any books in the series, it’s hard to rate it as just a standalone book. This is partly because I know the series as a whole is so highly regarded and thus, delivers much, much more than does just The Eye of the World, and partly because, despite it’s 800 page length, this book is obviously a lead-in to that much, much more. So even though I might be inclined to be harsh on this book because I had such high expectations for it, I’m also going easy on it because I know it’s essentially just the setup.

Okay, time for what I disliked. The beginning was a bit slow, but I didn’t mind the description-heavy writing throughout; I think it might have been a bit easier to get through because I was listening to the audiobook. As I’ve already mentioned, the plot wasn’t all that original or hard to predict. I do think there were times when a bit more of the traveling could have been skipped. There were also times when I think a certain character (ahem, Rand) should have caught on to something faster than they did. I get this is often necessary for the plot to work, but it’s still a pain.

I’ve heard that the women in this series aren’t exactly given ideal treatment. At first, I didn’t really see this. Though the world itself is obviously patriarchal, there are several strong female characters introduced who seem capable of holding their own (Moiraine being the most obvious, of course). However, eventually I did run into a couple of things in this area that bugged me. First, Nynaeve. She was one of my favorite characters, but then we went into her point of view, and it just about ruined her for me. It’s not even her romantic interest that bothered me. She’s just so petty, wanting to compete and be defiant over every little thing, seemingly lacking most of the self-confidence that we see from the outside. I know this is just the portrayal of a single character, so I’m not going to take it as a negative treatment of women overall, but it still bothered me. Secondly, towards the end there were several times when Rand looked over at “the women” and saw them clutching each other and crying whereas he himself felt like crying but, of course, did not. This seemed very out of character for both Nynaeve and Egwene, so it also irked me.

I didn’t have very specific expectations going in because, like I said, I’ve been avoiding spoilers like the plague. (Bad time?) Still, I think The Eye of the World did pretty much match the expectations I did have. It isn’t perfect, but I did enjoy it a lot and will be continuing on to The Great Hunt soon. So I’m giving it 4 out of 5.

Have you read The Eye of the World? How did your first impressions of The Wheel of Time compare to mine? Who’s your favorite character within the first book? Do you have any suggestions for things to do while listening to 30 hour audiobooks? I started out playing Minecraft but found it a bit too distracting once I got engaged in the story. I switched over to Picross and I Love Hue on my phone, but those will probably get tiring eventually. As always, thanks for sticking around if you made it this far!

9 thoughts on “The Eye of The World | Book Review”

  1. This is one of my TBR books on my “classics” list. I’ve been kind of reluctant to read it because part of me always saw it as really vanilla stereotypical fantasy coupled with (what I had been told was) not the best portrayal of female characters. There’s something about the series that just struck me as outdated, especially after the SFF scene exploded in the 2000s and fantasy got more interesting and diverse. But I’m glad to hear that it still has legs. Gives me confidence to read it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I definitely enjoyed it and would recommend trying the first book at least. I had a few of the same misgivings, but I decided to read it because I love the idea of a world that’s just so vast and well-realized that I can really sink into it. I think it is stereotypical fantasy, but done well. There are some unique bits though, like the magic system which differs by gender and whatever’s going on with Perrin. It’s definitely not diverse by modern standards (LGBTQ+, PoC, neurodiversity, etc.), but you do get diversity of characters from very different backgrounds and even different races. Still, the protagonists so far are mostly human and mostly male. So I guess it’s a mixed bag and really just depends on what you’re looking for. This first book reminds me a lot of LOTR, which I understand is purposeful, so maybe that helps?

      Like

  2. Nice review. Yeah I, ve read the whole series. And yes! Perrin was my favorite too. A really likable charcter all the way through. And I thought he had the best storyline.

    And yes the womenkind is not portrayed in the most versetile way. Even though there are many strong female characters they all seem inclined to very shallow overly romantic soap opera relationships.

    But! If you put that aside, I loved this series. Many wonderful moments through out.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad to know Perrin continues to be likeable and interesting because I have the feeling I’m going to get a bit fed up with Rand at times, lol. And I think I’ll be able to deal with the soap opera romances because, from what I’ve heard, they don’t play too big a part in the story? Despite my little complaints, I do have the feeling that this is going to end up being one of my favorite series too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve been wanting to read this series for more than two years now, but 20 is a lot of books to commit to. I mean, classics are great but sometimes when you read them you end up being disappointed JUST because of your expectations or the fact that the book was written in a different age, etc. Eventually, i decided I’m not starting with this one until (at least) finishing the Malazan Book of the Fallen, one humongous series at a time lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I feel obligated to point out it’s “only” 15 books, but I agree that it’s a heck of a lot to commit to. I didn’t have the highest expectations ever for this series, so I think that’s helped with my enjoyment. Classics can definitely be hit or miss. I have the first Witcher book on hold with my library and was going to start it, but then I realized that’s absolutely ridiculous. I’m going to try to restrain myself to one humongous series at a time as well.

      Like

      1. I think if I postpone starting with this series it will turn into 25 books in my head or something.
        The Witcher. I read that one. I am not entirely sure how I felt about the book itself but that could be very subjective. The author, however, *moves closer with a conspiring grin* did you hear about this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cx-r1L1Zl0Y (skip to min 4:45)

        Like

        1. I had not heard about that. It’s almost nice that I now feel no obligation to buy his books even if I do like them.
          I actually bought the game recently even though I imagine I’ll never get even a third of the way through it.

          Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s