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The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Book Name: The Eye of the World
Author: Robert Jordan
Publisher(s): Tor Books (US) Orbit (UK)
Formatt: Hardcover / Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Fantasy
Release Date: January 15, 1990

Spoiler Warning: This review contains minor spoilers for The Eye of the World.

“The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again.”

Why did it take me so long to read WoT?

Before I begin this review, I have to admit I should have begun this series years ago. Many years ago. For I had grown up listening to my dad read me Tolkien’s ­The Hobbit and reading The Lord  of the Rings on my own in the 6th grade. As I had entered into the awkward years of middle school, I had tried to find other fantasy series that would satisfy the magic Tolkien’s world had introduced me to. Elizabeth Haydon’s The Symphony of Ages became a staple of my daily, fantasy literary diet. However, it never encroached on the immense worldbuilding that the Oxford professor had imagined. I tried reading Terry Brook’s Shannara series (a favorite of my dad’s, who even stated he loved it more than Tolkien’s novels). However, growing up on Tolkien caused me to view the Shannara series as nothing more than a copy of the Lord of the Rings (sorry Shannara fans). I had also tried reading Katherine Kerr’s books, starting with The Red Wyvern, Irene Radford’s The Dragon Nimbus series. Heck, I even picked-up G. R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire’s first novel, A Game of Thrones.

Granted, these were the haphazard years of hunting through the bookshelves of my local Books-A-Million, trying to find a gem in the stack on trial and error, without access to an online community. I searched for an escape from my reality of being an awkward, struggling academic, introverted girl with best friends from elementary who went off to different schools or into upper classes. Besides Haydon and Tolkien, I wish I had the comfort of Jordan’s books sooner, for they would had provided the perfect escape from those lonely years.

What Jordan brings to the table probably doesn’t surprise anyone who is already familiar with his magnum opus: his ability to create immersive worldbuilding that will make you forget your reality. With the series now being developed by Amazon and filming set to begin this year, I figured it was about time I begun reading this series.

So, why didn’t I begin reading Jordan’s Wheel of Time sooner? Was I intimidated by its length, which outflanks Steven Erikson’s over three million word counted Malazan: Book of the Fallen with the additional of New Spring? Or was I afraid it would turn-out to be similar to Brook’s “LOTR’scopy,” Shannara?

I should not have had its length or fear of it being unoriginal scare me away, for the first Wheel of Time is something really special.

The Eye of the World (art)

The Eye of the World

I won’t spoil the prologue, only that it’s truly an amazing introduction into Jordan’s WoT. But skipping ahead, Robert Jordan’s series begins with a similar scene to Tolkien’s: a black rider is following the protagonist Rand al’Thor, a farmer heading to a small village called Emond Field’s in Two Rivers for the Festival (akin to Tolkien’s Shire and Bilbo’s 111th birthday celebration).

“He glanced over his shoulder… and blinked. Not more than twenty spans back down the road a cloaked figure on horseback followed them, horse and rider alike black, dull and ungleaming.”

While Jordan’s scene is similar to Tolkien’s by introducing a dark, menacing entity to unsettle the main character, Jordan provides enough detail to make his own scene original. From Rand’s musing over his love-interest, his conversations with his father Tam, to thinking the rider itself only being a figment of his imagination. Once Rand get’s into town we are introduced to more characters: Egwene the Major’s daughter (and his crush), his best friends Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara, and a Wisdom (akin to a village healer) Nynaeve.

While everything appears to be normal for this upcoming festival everyone is so excited about, a strange peddler comes into town bringing troubling news of the rest of the world experiencing an abnormally long winter. Central to the strange and unsettling times they find themselves in, an Aes Sedai called Lady Moiraine and her taciturn guardian, Lan, appear as well, bringing further disturbing news from the lands far outside their borders. The Aes Sedai’s presence is a fascination to the small village, but many are weary of the Aes Sedai, due to how one can bring danger for anyone near them.

“And I make a point of never knowing anything about Aes Sedai. Much safer that way.”

Something disturbing is moving over the world and is creeping into their small, cut-off village. Wolves have been attacking their flocks of sheep, strange occurrences have been happening on the road and distressing sightings of a black rider pervades Rand’s thoughts as he, and his close friends, come to realize they might no longer be safe in Emond Field. For the rider is searching for one of them, but who?

The magic in the WoT is slowly hinted at, from erupting flames to deter danger, to the Aes Sedai explaining some of its elements to a student. One interesting revelation is those who possess the ability can experience issues if they don’t learn how to control it. But I do feel that Robert Jordan is holding back till later on in the series, for not everything is explained in detail just yet. I will say that a good chunk of lore is exposed by the end of the book, expanding on the magic system without revealing too much. I can’t stress enough that it seems Jordan wants to slowly ease his readers into his vast world.

The Eye of the World takes it’s time introducing itself in its cast of characters and the world as a whole. From the “dangerous wizard” Aes Sedai, to ignorant fearful townsfolks, to a minstrel (known in the series as a gleeman) and countless other tropes that come to life in the series as Jordan’s own creation. And while the novel does take a while to get going you might not notice the lumbering pace due to, once again, Jordan’s adept skill at worldbuilding. Everything from the shingles on the roofs of the village houses, to Rand’s farm is heavily detailed.

If this isn’t your cup of tea you might not enjoy the Wheel of Time due his knack for being overly descriptive in everything he introduces. When Jordan finally gets the characters on their way, he introduces a series of other towns and characters while keeping the main cast active, for the most part, with the occasional campfire talk or roadside chatter. Of course, a fantasy series would not be complete without some action, and there’s more than plenty to be had in The Eye of the World, with magical spells used to deter enemies, attacking monsters and fierce chase-scenes (to name a few). The world really does come to life under the character’s feet, with detailed cultures like the gypsy-like Tuatha’an who collect songs where ever they go, to a militia set on discovering those in league with evil entities.

Again, it’s a lengthy introduction but I believe if you make it all the way to the end of the book you will find it well worth the read. For while Jordan’s first installment has the elements of Tolkien’s worldbuilding and small-town people trying to ignore the troubles of the outside world, it does evolve into its own, unique story by the end. 

That ending left me craving for more of Jordan’s world. And it might have you hungry for more as well.



  1. Avatar Mike says:

    So be honest (no judgement)… Did you read it or are you listening to the audiobook? (I only ask because you misspelled Egwene and Moiraine.)

    However you’re enjoying it, you are in for a treat. I started reading WoT 16 years ago, and did rereads before most of the newer book releases since 2003, and Brandon Sanderson finishing the final three books turned me into a huge fan of his as well. These books are the best I’ve ever read. In 2004 I took several of the books on vacation, and bought a second copy of one I had at home, just so I didn’t have to stop reading while there. Several of my paperbacks are held together with tape due to so many re-reads. I know these characters like family members at this point and laugh out loud or cry when things happen to them. It drags a little in the middle but stick with it.

    • Thanks Mike for catching my spelling mistakes and for reading my review.

      As soon as classes slow down I am definitely going to jump back into Jordan’s WOT. I have heard it slows down to a crawl in the middle of the series, but I am used to reading dense literary works so I’m confident in my ability to push through. Especially since the end of the series is supposed to be awesome. The only books I have had roughed-up from re-reading was Elizabeth Haydon’s SOA series and I love Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn.

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