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!