See my review of this book, and many more, at Tales from the Great East Road.
“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.”
Rand al’Thor is just the son of a mere farmer, believing his life to involve nothing more worrying about the harvest festival and winning the attention of the pretty Egwene, the inkeeper’s daughter. Then the attack came. In the middle of the night, Rand’s father’s farm is pillaged by trollocs – hideous part man and part animal monsters who swear allegiance to The Dark One. Rand and his father Tam flee to Emond’s Field only to find that the village has also been burned. While talking to Moraine Damodred, a member of a magic-wielding cult known as the Aes Sedai, it is revealed that though the attacks seemed random, Rand and two other young men, Mat and Perrin, are the targets. It seems that the Dark One has taken an interest in them, but why?
Moraine convinces them to travel with her and her Warder, Lan, back to Tar Valon, home of the Aes Sedai. Packing their bags as fast as they can, the young men set off, joined by Egwene and a travelling entertainer called Thom. None of them are safe from the Dark One, and Rand is consumed by worry he begins to visit Rand’s dreams. The Dark One claims “you are mine, or you are dead” by what does he want with them?
The Eye of the World is an ambitious tale. The beginning of a fourteen book series, set in a Tolkien-esqe fantasy world, it deals with grand plots – good verse evil, war and peace, magic and religion. Full of fascinating characters, each with their own detailed back stories, loyalties, and quirks, this truly is a great epic fantasy for those looking for a fully imagined world. ‘World building’ is a term that is use in reviews, but I believe this is one of those rare times it is accurate, as The Wheel of Time features an entire world, full of different cultures, creatures, and beliefs. Though there are a few obvious comparisons to Tolkien (the group of strangers on a journey, the main character starting as a simple village person, orc like monsters, and regions called The Mountains of Mist and The Mountains of Doom to name a couple), there are plenty of original and great ideas. I love the fact that magic is wielded by the women, giving them power, both magical and political. It’s great that it breaks away from the idea that women with magic are only ever healers and ‘wise women’. The Aes Sedai have really power, including fire and lightening strikes, tracking, and protection from the Dark One (and that is just one in the first book). All the women in this book are real people, not just a couple of characteristics and a pretty face.
There is so much to this book, from characters to plot to world building, that it can become a little confusing. This is not a book you can skim through – but once you throw yourself in, it’s easy to get caught up in the action. It’s been said by other reviewers that The Eye of the World can be read as a stand alone novel, but personally I feel there are too many unanswered question. This could be seen negatively as you have to invest in all fourteen books to know what happens, but I enjoyed this so much I am diving back in with book two as soon as I can.
This is a novel truly deserving of the name ‘epic fantasy’. It is the beginning of an amazing journey and I cannot wait to read more.