The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, Book 1)

by Robert Jordan

Paperback, 1990

Status

Available

Local notes

PB Jor

Barcode

1016

Publication

Tor Fantasy (1990), Edition: Reprint, 832 pages

Description

In the Third Age, an age of prophecy when the world and time themselves hang in the balance, the Dark One, imprisoned by the Creator, is stirring in Shayol Ghul.

Awards

Audie Award (Finalist — Best Female Narrator — 2023)
Locus Award (Nominee — Fantasy Novel — 1991)
Isinglass Teen Read Award (Nominee — 2003)
Prix Ozone (1997)
Best Fiction for Young Adults (Selection — 1991)

Language

Original language

English

Original publication date

1990-01-15

Physical description

832 p.; 4.2 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member atimco
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan, published in 1990, is the first volume in his massive, ambitious, and highly popular series, the Wheel of Time. One can hardly call oneself a fantasy fan without at least a passing knowledge of Jordan's work; for many people the Wheel of Time is synonymous
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with the genre. Though I would consider myself a fan of fantasy literature, I had never dipped into Jordan's books and felt it was time to remedy that.

To say that The Eye of the World is derivative of The Lord of the Rings is to state a fact that should be self evident. I believe Jordan is on record somewhere saying that the first few chapters of his epic are a deliberate nod to J. R. R. Tolkien, but I think the similarities go a lot further than that. Consider these elements:

• Black riders with an inexplicable sense of chilling hatred (the Ringwraiths)
• Mischievous sidekick-type characters for comic relief, amidst of a group of young protagonists (Merry and Pippin)
• The confusion and shyness of young love (Sam Gamgee and Rosie Cotton)
• Troubling news from the outside world disturbing the residents of a close-knit rural community
• The story opening with preparations for a community-wide celebration (Bilbo's birthday party)
• The presence of bestial enemies called Trollocs (Orcs)
• A multi-racial mission once the Ogier Loial joins the group (the Fellowship of the Ring)
• An uncrowned king who is a skilled warrior, living rough in the wild (Aragorn)
• A shapeshifter, Elyas, who can take the form of his beloved wolves (Beorn and his bears)
• A dangerous journey through unfrequented paths in The Ways (Moria and the Paths of the Dead)
• Place names like the Mountains of Mist (the Misty Mountains)
• The existence of "Darkfriends," ordinary people serving the evil one (Bill Ferny and his ilk)
• Serious wounds from poisoned blades (Frodo's wound on Weathertop)
• The chief servant of the evil one, Aginor, falling in battle (the Witch-King of Angmar)
• A pathetic creature following the group, Padan Fain, who is being consumed by the evil (Gollum)
• Cursed treasure in Shadar Logoth (as in the barrow-wights' crypt)
• All the talk of Ages, and history becoming legend, and legend becoming myth... yeah.

Though these elements have been reworked in new contexts, they are still very recognizable as Tolkien's settings and characters rather than Jordan's. Of course all authors borrow, but the trick is to borrow and rethink/reshape what you've absorbed before committing it to paper. There are some different things, to be sure, like the militant Children of the Light and the flavor of the Inquisition they impart. Critics also like to note Jordan's prominent female characters, as opposed to Tolkien's female characters who receive much less page time. But these different elements of fanatical religiosity and tough-gal characters do not give the story its structure and color, and receded as defining features for me as I kept bumping into Tolkien.

And at times I found the prominence of Jordan's female characters a little wearing; we are constantly reminded how sassy and stubborn they are, how just one of their famous firm looks can quell just about anybody, how no one's going to tell them what to do, blah blah blah. Is it possible for female characters to be too strong... or is it that our idea of strength is sadly one dimensional?

Jordan is nowhere near Tolkien's level in creativity, character development, world building, or writing ability. And yet I kept reading, and plan to continue with the rest of the series. Why?

Well, for one thing Jordan does know how to keep his readers' interest once he gets it (it took me about a hundred pages before I felt much of a desire to keep reading, but once that interest was created it carried me through the next 700 pages). I confess a curiosity to see if Jordan is able to take these familiar Tolkienesque elements in a completely different direction. There is also something attractive about the idea of immersing oneself in an epic this long and involved... the fourteenth and final book is due out in March 2012 (the series is being finished by Brandon Sanderson, as Jordan passed away after penning the eleventh title). As even one of the books is rather a commitment at a minimum of 800 pages, it should be interesting to live in this world for a longer time than I usually spend in any one author's creation.

To be honest, The Eye of the World was better than I was expecting. Jordan may be incredibly derivative and not nearly so good as Tolkien, but at least he knows to pull ideas from excellent source material, and he creates a sense of excitement that can carry his reader pretty far. For me, it remains to be seen if he can pull off an epic worthy of the many comparisons to Middle-earth. I'm not convinced he can, but it should make for an entertaining journey at least.
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LibraryThing member etragedy
I had heard much about the 'Wheel of Time' prior to reading the "The Eye of the World". Supporters talk about how complex and detailed the storyline is. Detractors (among other things) claim Jordan is a hack, apeing J.R.R. Tolkien.

Many who are not fans of the genre don't realize how influential
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Tolkien has been, and are apt to dismiss all epic high fantasy as cloned from Tolkien. Though there may be a grain of truth to that (or even a sack full of grains), I love the genre, and believe there is enough variation from Tolkien within it for endless storytelling.

Unfortunately, that DOES NOT include the near endless storytelling of The Wheel of Time series. I am apalled by just how directly Jordan has "borrowed" from Tolkien, and have become convinced that the people who say it's not that similar to Tolkien have not actually *read* Tolkien.

I'll speak mostly about the first part of the book to avoid spoilers. The story opens in a place called Emond's Field (HOBBITON) where most of the folk would rather enjoy a good book and a pipe by the fire than go on adventures (one of several ALMOST DIRECT QUOTES to be found in both Jordan and Tolkien). People from all over the Three Rivers (THE SHIRE) are travelling to a PARTY at Emond's Field (Bel Tine in Jordan - BILBO'S BIRTHDAY in Tolkien) where among other things, there will be Storytelling, FEASTING & FIREWORKS!

But, there are rumors of impending WAR in far off lands, and lately Black Riders (BLACK RIDERS) have been seen in Emond's Field. These Black Riders and their Trollock (ORC) footsoldiers are servants of the Dark One (DARK LORD). The Riders (MUCH LIKE Ringwraiths) exist in a semi-corporeal state and (when they WOUND one of the heroes much like in Tolkien) we learn that their weapons are also POISONED.

For everyone's safety, Rand and his friends Mat (MERRY) and Perrin (PIPPIN) flee EAST across the Winespring (BRANDYWINE) river and with the aid of a the magic wielding Moiraine (GANDALF) who rides a white horse, and the fighting woodsman Lan (ARAGORN), who rides a black horse, they give the riders (including a Dragkhar a NAZGHUL like rider on a wyvern like FLYING MOUNT) the slip at the FERRY BOAT. And eventually make it to the nearest major city Baerlon (BREE).

Numerous other Tolkien rip-offs abound (such as the Darkwood instead of MIRKWOOD and The Mountains of Mist instead of the THE MISTY MOUNTAINS), but you get the point. In fact, the *only* members of the 7 MEMBER fellowship that don't seem to be taken directly from the Lord of the Rings, are the characters Egwene and Thom (who seem to be rip-offs of EILONWY and FFLEWDUR from from Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain" instead).

As the story progresses, there are all the other Tolkien ripoffs - one of the characters acquires an evil magic object that BINDS ITSELF to him, CORRUPTING HIS SPIRIT much like the ONE RING (and making him half in- half out of the spirit world as happened with Frodo after he was wounded)- the group has to travel through a MAGIC GATE (thankfully they didn't have to speak friend to enter) into a dark MORIA like region; an Ogier (ENT) who thinks humans are "too hasty" and educates the protagonists about the "old ways" and other rip-offs like a version of Tom Bombadil, the Ents and even reference to MOUNT DHOOM!?!

Good stories are immortal, but formats and languages change. Someone could make a pretty penny updating Tolkien for a contemporary audience, and as a matter of fact, it looks like that's exactly what Jordan has done - making the language conform more to modern American English, giving a larger role to women in the book, etc.; Still, he mostly just changed the names and omitted the credit to the original author.

I give it an average of 2 and a half stars. 2 stars for those who've already read "The Lord of the Rings", and 3 stars for those who haven't (and don't plan on it).
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LibraryThing member readermom
I was looking for an easy read, something I knew I liked. I first read this book about 12 or 13 years ago. I was out of work and a friend recommended the series. It was a good thing I was out of work because I read the first four books (600+ pages) in three days. I read all night because I wanted
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to find out what happened. The characters became real. I had dreams about them and thought about the books all the time. It was scary how much they took over my brain. As the series continued it lost its hold a bit. When the author died without finishing the books I was more upset because I would never find out what happened in the end than I was about a person dieing. This is how I learned about Brandon Sanderson, he was chosen by Robert Jordan's widow to finish up the series. Having read all Sanderson's other books, I think she made an excellent choice. Now it looks like the end of the series will be three more books, with the first coming out in the fall.
All that is background to my reading this book, this time. I haven't read them for a while, not wanting to get irritated about no ending again. I was amazed at this book's ability to make me stay up too late even after multiple readings (at least 4) and years of knowing what happens to the characters later. This is an excellent book. I love the characters, the detail, the plot, the prophecy, it is all so well done.
The best part of rereading this book was seeing how much is put into the book to set up things that come later. There are bits of prophecy, there are characters that only have a chapter now but whole plot threads later. There are weird little incidents, not more than a paragraph, that prepare you for the huge plot twists that come later in the series. The amount of work it took to keep all of this straight is awe-inspiring. I can just imagine the office; with notes, diagrams, bulging file cabinets, all full of the details of the world Robert Jordan created.
His characters are incredible too. They are all people, even the serving maid and the innkeepers are people. So often the minor roles could just as well be faceless robots, with no personality, no interest beyond keeping the main characters fed. Though it takes up a lot of space, the incidental characters here feel like they continue living after the story has left them.
There are so many other parts of the novel I could rave about. The prophesies are the most I have ever seen in a book outside the Old Testament. The style of storytelling is not just a single line. As a character who is ill retells the last week, the narrative skips, following the jumbled memory of someone who has been ill and missed a bit of events. If the rest of the books had kept to this level of skill Robert Jordan would be proclaimed the best fantasy author of all time, perhaps even beating out Tolkien. Alas, they didn't. There was a marked drop-off about book 5, but by then you are so thoroughly hooked you keep reading anyway.
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LibraryThing member dk_phoenix
Yep, I'm doing it. I've taken the plunge, and am going to read the Wheel of Time series from start to finish, in the hopes that by the time I'm done, I won't have *too* long to wait for the final installment of the series. Sanderson has said it will be published in 2012, so if I read one book from
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the series per month in 2011, I should be right on track.

I think I've waited this long because of how daunting it is to start an unfinished 14-book series. Well, I'm glad I started, because I actually found myself enjoying the story and characters. I've heard that the middle books can become a bit of a slog, but for now, I'm going to enjoy the fact that I can read this with fresh eyes (since it's a first read of the series) and that I don't have to wait for each book to be published as I read them... particularly due to the rumors that there are so many characters, it can get confusing later on if you've taken too much of a break between books.

Anyway, I liked this one, I saw where certain authors who wrote afterward borrowed a concept or two, and I'm looking forward to reading The Great Hunt in March. Simple as that!
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LibraryThing member mattries37315
Since the mid/late 90s I've always been drawn to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series because of Darrell K. Sweet's distinctive cover art that has set the series apart from other fantasy titles. It wasn't until recently that I decided to look inside those covers, but after reading The Eye of the
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World I wish I had sooner.

The slow-to-moderate pace at the beginning of the book by Jordan shows the layback lifestyle of the Two Rivers region of his world where the majority of his characters come from. Once the action hits the road, the action picks up to a furious pace that only relaxes when the group comes to rest at towns that grow progressively larger. When the group is forced to split up, Jordan takes the opportunity to give an enlarged view of the world he's created as well as give better character development as the narration expanded from just one character's point-of-view to three.

Throughout the story, from the prologue to the climax, the significance and use of magical "One Power" is expanded upon by Jordan as well as it's implications. Those implications result in how characters interaction with one another, especially when it comes to gender roles compared to other fantasy stories. And the end of the book these implications of the use of the One Power provide set up for future books.

One last point is how Jordan misdirects who the ultimate villian(s) are at the climax of the book, including during the book's end game. Several aspects of the evil side of Jordan's world were exposed, though not explored in-depth, but well enough to give the reader a sense of what the protagonists are up against.

On it's own The Eye of the World is a great story. But as the first book in what will turn out to be a 14 book series, it's introduces just enough to want you to come back to see what else will happen. Like I said in the first paragraph, I should have read this book sooner.
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LibraryThing member Terpsichoreus
The first widely popular rewrite of Tolkien was The Shannara series, and The Wheel of Time was the next version. Its common for authors to take inspiration from an older work and create their own reimagining, as Virgil did to Homer. Tolkien himself was writing his own interpretation of the Norse
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Eddas.

When Tolkien and Virgil set out to write their great works, they expanded and changed what came before, and made it their own with a unique voice and vision. Jordan didn't have the knowledge of language, history, or culture to truly copy Tolkien's style. Nor was he able to add any unique spin of his own.

The Eye of The World is a more accessible version of Tolkien, but Tolkien is already a simplified version of the Norse Sagas, meaning that Jordan felt a need to dumb-down the accessible, which doesn't leave his book with much character of its own.

However, unlike other authors who choose a more straightforward take on Fantasy, Jordan kept the plodding length of Tolkien. How he wrote a book both simple and endless is beyond me. Without the strange and engaging details and magic of Tolkien's world, Jordan loses the depth which bolsters a long-winded tale. Instead, he gives us endless characters and plot digressions, losing any sense of drive or urgency the book might have had, were it shorter and streamlined.

In Tolkien, the first hundred pages takes place in Hobbiton. This prelude prepares us for the rest of the book, allowing us to understand the strange world and characters and setting a mood. Then the action takes us away, you don't really want to leave the beauty of Hobbiton, but when we do, the world he builds seems so much grander in comparison.

In Eye of the World, you spend the first hundred and fifty pages in whatever small farming community so that when they finally leave, it will seem like something is happening. Unfortunately, this is only a clever illusion.

The hero is an orphan who looks different, he gets his father's magic sword, he goes on a quest with an old, wily man, gets attacked by evil proto-humans, meets the princess by accident, &c., &c.

Stop me if you've heard this one before. Like a lot of modern fantasy, the plot and characters are old and unremarkable. Every fantasy fan has read this same story again and again from countless authors.

There's no reason for this sort of repetition, a new book should be more than just fanfic of an older book. There are hundreds of different influences out there, even before Tolkien touched pen to paper, there was Lord Dunsany, The Worm Ouroboros, H. P. Lovecraft, H. Rider Haggard, Robert E. Howard, Ariosto, Spenser and E. Nesbit, to name a few.

Contemporary with and after Tolkien there are Mervyn Peake, Michael Moorecock, Fritz Leiber, and Gene Wolfe. There is no reason for writing the same stories over and over when there are so many interesting and new inspirations out there. It is especially inexcusable when an author does this with an endless long-windedness.

Also, like most fantasy authors, Jordan will later reveal an unsettling chauvinism, since any powerful female character will end up subservient to a male character, often through a ritual which involves her public nudity and a spanking. I wish I were joking. Luckily, the first volume of the series avoids this.

UPDATE: one might point to the endless and pointless repetition in modern literature as a sure sign that there is no God, no grand plan, and no purpose to the universe. A benevolent power would surely want to spare us the pain of such unending mediocrity.

However, if there were some deity, and he had a sense of humor, he would allow the uncreative authors to publish, to gain fame, and to write a series the length of an encyclopedia, only to have the author die during the very last book. Since this is exactly what happened, I will have to look again for other signs of this humorous creator, possibly involving banana peels and fright wigs.
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LibraryThing member laughingwoman6
I read this book years ago and I loved it. I really did. In fact I adored the first three books in this series. I bought all of them in hard cover. I have to confess however by the time I reached book six or seven in this very long series I gave up. I found it to be almost unreadable, with pages of
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idiotic descriptions of peoples clothing, too many characters to even be able to follow all of them with any real interest and a plot that dragged on and on. I think Robert Jordan would have benefitted from and editor who actually edited his books. I felt like the publishing company felt they had found a cash cow and they were milking it for all they were worth instead of actually caring about the quality of the story. To say I was disappointed is an understatement, I dropped off all of my books from this series to a used book store and never bought or read another one. That being said the first three books of this series remain among the best examples of epic fantasy I have ever read, which I suppose makes my disappointment all the more acute.
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LibraryThing member KatieMatie
A fascinating introduction to a fantasy world with many complex layers and cultures. Darkness is gathering in this world, and while a cast of characters is introduced, the book leaves you wanting to know more about the fate of these characters and others. Many fantasy elements are involved here, a
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central character who all too soon has the weight of the whole world thrust on his shoulders, seemingly normal farmers and tradesmen who develop unusual talents and beautiful women, integral to any fantasy story. The villains are obvious at first, but layers of intrigue intwined in the story reveal that all is not what is seems in the the world of the Wheel of Time.
Reading others reviews of this book has opened up other remberances about the story. Yes, the women tend to think themselves much worthier than the men, but in a world that was almost destroyed due to the madness of men, this seems to fit. It is interesting the interplay and relationship between the sexes, which becomes more apparant in future books.
Future books develop the story more, though after book 5, a reader can get very bored and frustrated very very quickly. It picks up again at book nine though, so if you're hooked, keep plodding on.
I have read that Robert Jordan is trying very hard to finish while he fights a rather nasty medical condition. Lets hope he does, it would be good to get some completion to some of these stories!!
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LibraryThing member dajashby
I read this for the first time a long time ago, but so far as I can remember I was struck at the time by just how much Jordan had “borrowed” from The Lord of the Rings. There are three young men in a rural community being hunted by minions of the Dark Lord – riders on black horses dressed in
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black, their faces hidden by deep hoods. The main character – Rand Al'Thor – is nearly discovered in the woods by one of them in precisely the same way that Frodo and his friends are when journeying to Buckland. The main shock troops employed by the Dark Lord are called Trollocs (trolls / orcs, I can only assume). The word always makes me think of trollops. The Dark Lord uses ravens as spies. Huge flocks of them search for two of the characters at one point. Rand Al'Thor and his friends at one point travel through a dark region (The Ways / The Mines of Moria), and are pursued by a creature corrupted by the Dark Lord (Padan Fain / Gollum). Those things being said, Jordan did combine the elements in new and interesting ways, and the overall result was an entertaining, if over long, read.

The basic story is the popular journey or quest. Our hero is not seeking treasure, but is trying to find out why the Dark Lord is pursuing him. By the end of the book he knows the answer. In this book Jordan has a modest cast of characters, a single plot line, and mostly uses Rand as his viewpoint character. One of the problems with the series as it develops is that the cast grows, and so does the number of viewpoint characters and separate sub plots. Several of the later books seem to have no sort of unifying plot at all.

Overall I found the book enjoyable enough that I have read it, and most of the other books in the series several times. One of the problems withb such a long series is that you are almost forced to reread them when each new volume comes out because you've forgotten so much of what happened before. However, I do wish that Jordan had employed a good editor.
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LibraryThing member amongstories
Rand al’Thor is a sheepfarmer from the Two Rivers and that’s all he’s ever planned to be. Likewise his friends Perrin Aybara and Matrim Cauthon never expected to find themselves too far from home. Egwene has always yearned for an adventure and Nynaeve is not going to let these kids get
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themselves into trouble if she can help it, but an unexpected attack the night before a Spring Festival changes everything and these friends find themselves on an unlikely journey.

I went into the first book of The Wheel of Time series knowing very little about it aside from the fact that is it very loved by many and has quite the reputation. With that in mind I think going in not knowing anything and with minimal expectations was best because I was able to take everything in as the characters did and really grow into the story with them. It made this a very very enjoyable read, not perfect, but I was always happy to pick the book up – with the exception of the one event that made me boycott it for a day.

Perrin is by far my favorite character, though I do think all of the main characters definitely bring something to the story. I’m particularly intrigued by Egwene and Nynaeve. Egwene is formidable and we could tell from the first time we meet her as a little girl. Nynaeve is another strong female character, but we don’t know as much about her and I’m very curious to see how she grows throughout the series. Their roles and who they are is quite fitting for all of the events that are unraveling. I also find that the way it‘s written, always from the point of view of Two Rivers characters ensures that we as the reader are learning about the events unfolding at the same pace as the characters in the book. We don‘t know what they don‘t know and it added something to the experience for me. That‘s not to say that I don‘t still have questions, because whooooo boy do I have questions.

The Eye of the World is definitely heavy on the details, but it never felt slow going to me. Everything was always moving and it didn‘t ever get bogged down by the detail. That said, I also happen to be a reader who enjoys getting into the nitty gritty of a story, so this was just really up my alley. I did want more detail in regards to this concept of the wheel of time, how the past ages will influence current events (because it feels like they will), and how and why magic works the way it does. Of course, being book one of fourteen, I imagine this was by design. However there are a lot of things that Jordan introduces us to, but then really only teases us with minute detail. Which is both tantalizing and frustrating.

I do have a couple of gripes with this book though. First, there is one scene in particular that was very out of the blue – no context, no warning, nothing – and I‘m not sure why it was done. Is Robert Jordan dropping a hint for a future book? If so, why this way? It makes zero sense and it pulled me out of the story for a minute. Second, the ending. I‘m not mad at how the book ended, but I am mad at how abruptly the book ended. The pacing of the last thirty or so pages in particular was SO rushed. Having just invested time in the 780 pages leading up to it, I can say I would have kept reading if it was a little longer. So it was tough to get all of these WHOA! moments and then realize there is no more book.

All in all though, I really did enjoy The Eye of the World and I will happily read on in the series. I am so intrigued about how the politics and the lives of all of these Two Rivers folk, and the various parts and pieces are going to come together over the next thirteen installments. 4/5 stars.
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LibraryThing member PardaMustang
Jordan's The Eye of the World is an engaging start to a fantasy series that immerses readers in quite a vast and intriguing world. The story follows Rand al'Thor and several of his friends as they flee their home after creatures of myth attack his village. They are shepherded by Moiraine and Lan,
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an Aes Sedai and her Warder who happen to be searching for the same thing the Trollocs were- the Dragon Reborn.

Pulled apart and drawn together and pulled apart again, Rand and company set out on an epic quest that takes them across rugged terrain and through forbidding landscapes. The characters are all well-drawn and memorable, with fascinating backstories, and the prose is absolutely lovely, painting vivid pictures of the settings and the people that inhabit them.

One of the most impressive aspects of the book is its sense of scale and scope. The world-building is extensive and intricate, with a rich history and mythology, and a complex web of political intrigue and interpersonal dynamics. And speaking of sense of scale and scope, this book (and all others in the Wheel of Time series) is a massive chonker. However, be warned!, the pacing of the story can feel slow at times. Additionally, some of the secondary characters feel underdeveloped.

Despite its drawbacks, The Eye of the World is a strong and engaging start to Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Highly recommended for fans of epic fantasy, and authors like Brandon Sanderson, RA Salvatore, and Brent Weeks.

***Purchased and read for my own enjoyment.
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LibraryThing member N.W.Moors
I read this back when it originally came out but decided to reread it in preparation for the TV show. Honestly, I didn't need to bother; after watching the first four episodes, I've realized that the TV show has taken tremendous liberties with characters, world lore, and story. It's okay but
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definitely not the same as the book.
It's still a great book, a worthy successor to LOTR, though I remember the story deviates a lot from that fantasy formula as the books go on. Still, this series is the paterfamilias for many fantasy tropes and stands on its own. This first book is a coming-of-age story for three young men from a remote rural village. They and their companions flee after an attack by minions of the Dark One to try to find safety. The story is all over the internet right now as readers and show-watchers analyze changes, so I won't recap it or spoil it further. It's a good read, albeit long, and I really appreciate the character changes as the young ones (ages about 17 here) face danger hitherto unknown and grow up. There's a lot of politics though more come later in the series and they're not of the depth of Game of Thrones. This is a classic fantasy book for good reasons, and I'm glad to have reread it.
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LibraryThing member TraceyLea
This book was my first entry into the fantasy genre. In fact I hadn't really read much since the Sweet Valley Twins series from when I was in primary school, maybe some Stephen King, Virginia Andrews and Anne Rice in mid-late highshcool. Doom, gloom with a touch of Goth. I also watched a lot of
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Sci-Fi – which think it had a lot to do with my social circle and my Dad. In college (grades 11 & 12 here in Tasmania) I revisited reading with the subjects I studied, 20th Century History, Ancient Civs, Australia, Asia and the Pacific, English Lit, Writers Workshop, Art and Photography (I did Physical Science and 2nd level Mathematics too). A lot of news articles, journals, Jane Austin, Homer and Herodotus and I loved it. So I suppose I was hooked on epic/historical fiction from then.

Mid-year grade 11 I was in my, at the time local bookshop/art supply shop, when I saw the amazing cover standing out on the shelf and picked it up and flipped it over to read an obscure blurb. I opened it to the prologue. I could not put it down and was so taken I ended up spending the money I was supposed to be buying photography paper with on it and later found myself explaining to my parents, who were on very low incomes, I needed more money to buy the photography paper for class because I’d spent what they had given me on a book.

I have this fabulous book to thank for my interest in reading, writing and the awakening of my imagination, it has earned its 5/5 stars from me. The characters, choices and events drew me in. I have lost count of the number of times my battered paperback copy has been read and re-read. I have the book sitting next to me again and even now, I find myself wanting to just read the first chapter again, just the first one...
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LibraryThing member LisaMaria_C
This starts the Wheel of Time series. Doorstopper length, maps, a prologue, glossary at the end, told in omniscient with a pseudo Medieval European setting. Epic high fantasy ho!

Mentally I was counting off in the first chapter all the parallels to Lord of the Rings: Rand as Frodo, Mat as Merry,
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Perrin as Pippin, Emond's Field as the Shire, a party where there will be fireworks--and especially the mysterious and ominous figure robed in black reminiscent of a Ringwraith. I worried this would be another Tolkien clone. And yes, it is, even if it feels less derivative and more its own book as you go along. Not quite as blatant a ripoff as Brooks' Shannara and better written, but just way too close for my comfort down to the names of places and characters. There are also allusions to the Arthurian legends, which might have felt less intrusive without the Tolkien overtones. It made me wonder if elements I found original in the novel were just lifted from books I don't know.

Social roles and even the system of magic were strictly separated by gender in this novel, but I have to give Jordan credit for giving women a part to play almost as prominent as the men in this novel--quite in contrast to Brooks (and even Tolkien). That and the less painful writing earns it one star higher than Sword of Shannara, but the problem is I still found this novel bloated, tedious, eminently skimmable, and without one character I cared about--particularly the main point of view character, Rand.

I'm not sure why. Omniscient can be distancing, but so much epic high fantasy--like Tolkien--is written that way. None of the characters grow in this story--but do Tolkien's really? Frodo maybe. But yes, even if Tolkien himself based Middle Earth on Norse legend, I didn't read Lord of the Rings feeling as if the characters, plot and world were xeroxed--it felt fresh, it had quotable lines--and a sense of humor and theme. Jordan left me cold--and bored. (Oh, and the dreams sequences--the pain, the pain!) Will not be reading more of the series.

Jordan recently died and the last two volumes of the series are being completed by Brandon Sanderson from Jordan's partial manuscript and outline, which will bring the series of doorstopper books to a baker's dozen.
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LibraryThing member benjamin.duffy
Whenever I read sword-and-sorcery fantasy, I expect a certain amount of borrowing from Tolkien. And that's fine with me, as not only did Tolkien do a pretty amazing job, rich with things worth borrowing, but he himself borrowed liberally from those who came before.

But the amount of larceny that
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goes on in this book was simply beyond anything I could have anticipated. I went from surprised, to irritated, beyond irritation and into amusement at the endless cavalcade of characters, places, objects, and situations so obviously lifted from The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The amusement finally came in the form of a grin at Jordan's sheer chutzpah, as he could not have written this book if he gave even the slightest damn whether anyone noticed how badly he was ripping off Tolkien. It's as though Robert Jordan was saying to me, "Yep, I'm going to write a fantasy book, virtually everything in it will be a thinly veiled analogue of something from Middle Earth, and by the end, you won't even care because the story is going to be that freaking cool."

And you know what? He was right. After a slightly slow start, it turned into a fun story and interesting world, and I'm certainly hooked enough to dig into the rest of the huge series.
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LibraryThing member sellsworth
This book really made the rest of the series fun for me to read and this book as the starting book of a long journey has to be really good. It completely exceeded my expectation. He created an entire world revolving it around the three ta'veren. He does a great job with character development too.
LibraryThing member lunaverse
Many people really like this series. Many people hate it.

The first 90 pages are extremely slow. I had to slog through them. After that, the main characters leave their village and the action begins. After that, it doesn't take much to get you through the remaining 10,000 pages. The characters are
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engaging and the plot keeps moving.

The first book follows some patterns common to fantasy, the pattern set up by Tolkien. Provincial kids leave their small town for the adventure they crave. Evil is growing. They fight ugly monsters. The overlord gets more powerful. They do something and the overlord's power is reduced.

After the first book, however, the plot begins to get a little more complex.

The world is immersive enough that when the video game came out in the late 90's, I actually had to stop playing one of the levels out of fright.

The magic system, history, and politics of the Wheel of Time are interesting.

I also like the background mythology -- the idea of a wheel which weaves patterns, and those patterns are the world. Some people's souls are dramatic changers of the pattern. No matter where they go, destiny is altered. Magic involves intentionally changing this pattern.

This reminds me of chaos theory. The world is like a fractal, with events and actions happening randomly and in patterns. But sometimes, things happen outside the norm, and events or people will attract improbabilities -- like strange attractors.

I like how Robert Jordan incorporates these concepts into a fantasy setting. This aspect of the series really impacted my view of life.
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LibraryThing member lanes_3
The start of one of the great epic fantasy series of recent years. There are many similarities to other great fantasy stories - riding away in the night to avoid the evil creatures on horseback, party being split up during a chase to force some of the main characters out on their own, a major
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battle that brings revelation to the main character. However, this is only the beginning of a unique series unlike any other I've read.
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LibraryThing member DWWilkin
657 pages of story and as it nears it's climatic ending you get the sense that it all could end in one book. I have read this book more than a half dozen times. I have read the sequels as many. Some see this as a retelling of Tolkien, and to the extent that you have those who quest to thwart
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ultimate evil, it does parallel.

Jordan is not perfect though I find the Wheel of Time series to probably be our best epic fantasy. He breaks a cardinal rule of writing, show don't tell. Jordan is all about telling and narrative description.

Another problem when you look at the series in it's entirety is that Jordan felt the need to write a prequel as the series grew. As I mentioned the book could have been a single novel, though the ending is rushed.

Jordan did us a disservice I expect in the quest for money over being true to his art. He wrote many, many books dragging out the story. They are good, unlike Weber's Honor Harrington which lost it's way a long while ago. Jordan does know where he is going, he just finds thing to add depth to the world.

When I mentioned that things ended rushed, you get this because at the end the evil faced are minions of the worst but have not been mentioned until they come on stage. Other minions have been mentioned but not these two. We also still have our hero unprepared to face his challenge. With some more work, Jordan could have wrapped things up in one.

Ultimately we might have been content with one, but fifteen are so much more fulfilling. It is worth the time and provides enjoyment each time it is read. So you get your moneys worth with a great read despite all the telling and the length of the series.
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LibraryThing member opinion8dsngr
A good, solid begin to a great fantasy series. The plot falters a little towards the end, but not enough to significantly lower the quality of the book. The book's setting, and character list, are huge and comprehensive. Jordan creates a whole, functioning literary world from scratch. No small feat.
LibraryThing member Fence
In a quiet back water village strange things are stirring. It has been a hard winter, harder than any can recall, and spring is long overdue. What news there is from the world at large is dark and troublesome. Wars, winter, and a false Dragon. But the people of the Two Rivers are hardy folk,
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stubborn some say, they will continue on as they always have. Wars shouldn’t trouble them.

But on Winternight all that is going to change.

It is pretty much impossible for my to give an objective review of The eye of the world. I first read it so many years ago when I was in second year in school, and since then I have reread it innumerable times. I think on my first reading there were another 3 books already published, it may have been only two, but I remember many many trips to Broderick’s book shop in Sligo who had promised that the next book would be in stock next week. Oh sorry, next week. No next week. But once I had caught up with Jordan’s output I had to reread, usually I’d do the whole series when a new book was due. And as the first in the series tEotW got more rereads than the later ones. Plus it was my introduction to Randland and all the goodness therein. So I’m giving it ten stars. If I came to it fresh today I’m not sure I would, but a book is more than just a story, it is every memory it brings with it too.

But if you are thinking of starting to read The Wheel of Time series, now that the final book is due in just a few short months, what should you expect? Well, if you’ve read The Lord of the Rings you will certainly spot many echoes. Some have called it a LotR knock-off, but I don’t agree with that at all, there are similar elements in this book. Three young innocents abroad, venturing into a danger much older and darker than they ever could have thought possible. With magic and evil creatures, Trollocs here in place of orcs, and evil black riders sniffing you out. But they are allusions rather than a copy. In WOT women actually feature quite heavily. As well as the three boys; Rand, Mat, and Perrin, two young women also leave the Two Rivers. And the whole party is led by a woman rather than a man.

In Randland you see it is women and not men who wield the One Power, or magic. The male half(Saidin) was tainted by the Dark One thousands of years ago. Any man who can wield saidin is doomed to go mad and die. Which means that there is a huge imbalance of power, gender-wise, in Randland as a whole. For many, the Aes Sadai, the women who can use saidar are distrusted and regarded as witches. In many countries they are are banned completly. In others they are welcomed. But in most they are tolerated but distrusted.

Many many people dislike the portrayal of women in The Wheel of Time series. I’m not going to comment on that yet, because I’m only talking about tEotW today, and I think that both men and women are treated quite fairly in this book. Yes, the main character is a male and so we get his opinion on most things and sometimes he does dismiss half the population with a “women!” but that is a character response, not necessarily the author’s opinion. And both men and women here act like people. Some good, some bad.

I could write loads more on WOT but I think this is enough for the moment. If you’ve enjoyed epic fantasy before and like to read long books then give this one a try. If you don’t like it you don’t have to read any further, if you do, well, you’ve loads more books to come!
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LibraryThing member KarenLeeField
In the early 1990s, I read the first three books of the Wheel of Time series. That's almost 30 years ago, so I was not surprised to find I didn't remember much. I did remember names and a basic storyline, but no details that scream at me while reading (or in my case, listen).

Back in the day, the
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thicker the book, the happier I was. However, these days, thick books turn me off reading them. Hence, the decision to revisit this series via audiobook. Audiobooks rock!

The Eye of the World has many characters. It can get confusing remember how they all fit together. I know the characters (as already mentioned), but if I didn't, I believe I'd be craving more character development. Maybe, if this were the first time I'd read the book, a connection to the characters wouldn't have taken place. Yet, a link must have taken place 30 years ago, or maybe I just made up my own characteristics for them (it's a huge possibility). Who knows?

Anyway, I feel as if I know the characters and the rereading of this book was to reintroduce myself to the storyline, of which I remember very little. I enjoyed it then and I enjoyed it again now. It's a typical fantasy story which moves the characters over vast continents of land looking for something or fleeing from someone (or both). The world is built on a strong foundation.

I look forward to finding out more in future books.

Sorry, this isn't much a review. It's more of a pouring out of thoughts that won't make sense to you. But it makes perfect sense to me. :D

I am going to listen to the entire series. This is something I've been meaning to do for some years and have now started on the journey. As I type this, I'm already twelve or so chapters into the next book.
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LibraryThing member BrainFireBob
The Wheel turns, and Ages come and go- cue wind.

The book that started it all.

My favorite series, flat-out, this is the kickoff book. Jordan made a number of unusual choices. He has a main cast of characters- three boys, three girls, and a supporting cast that would make Tolstoy nod in approval.
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His training as a physicist comes out in the work he did establishing details and more importantly, reasons for everything to be as it was.

If your background is not in science, there would seem to be a lot of fluff to these books; from a combination scientific-literary point of view, he established the necessary variables and equations and "solved" the story, showing his work along the way. The prose is approachable, and in this book in particular, the characters are likable. He even uses colors and heraldic-style stitching designs to indicate things about the characters and their world.

Jordan was at pains to create a matriarchal world where men were the inferior sex; while criticism can be leveled at how well it was achieved, there is a lot of thought and realism put into how it would look and interact that a casual glance misses at its own peril. Men committed original sin in his world; men are the emotionally weaker sex, although they are still the ones that do most of the fighting and dying in wars et al.

Into this is born a prophesied savior- who will also be a destroyer- a man. The very man who was responsible for the destruction of the world before, in fact, reborn by name for the first time anyone knows of in this world driven by reincarnation. And the character himself . .is a good, kind-hearted young man.

If you like small-scale adventure books, read this one, maybe the next one, and be done. If you don't like politics, history that has to be read between the lines, complex intrigue, and people acting believably like people- not for you.

Myself? He even includes a mechanism for Deus ex Machina "Fate" interventions- ta'veren- where ta'veren "are" lucky but find their free will choked by chance into fulfilling their destiny, while corresponding bad luck happens to them or those around them. The entire background of the series is mechanistic, and I always find new connections on new reads. I've never had a fantasy series engage my mind like this, not even Wolfe, and Wolfe is saying something!

Additional content:

After reading some other reviews, some information for new readers.

Jordan's cosmology and mythos is neither strict high fantasy nor alternate history nor Apocalyptic. He himself described it as Manichean.

There are seven distinct Ages of the world. In some, mankind exists at an Ice Age subsistence level. In some, mankind has achieved near Star Trek levels of advancement. Everyone is reincarnated again and again through time.

Jordan uses the symbolism of the Wheel- a spinning wheel, spinning lives "threads" in the "pattern" of each Age. The Wheel derives its energy from the simultaneous attraction and repulsion of the fundamental yin-yang force of the universe- the One Power, divided into feminine (saidar) and masculine (saidin) halves. In some Ages, humans learn to "channel" this power.

The Dark One is the devil, embodying destruction and corruption. He wants to destroy the Wheel and claims to want to remake the Pattern. The Creator never appears, but is presupposed from the evidence of Creation.

In the last Age, mankind has a society much like our own but with total green technology and perfect health due to the One Power and channelers. War is forgotten outside historians. Then the Dark One is able to reach inside reality, and not only is it war, but it's war twisted to the most perverse form imaginable.

The leader against the Dark One earned the nickname Dragon. And he was losing. In desperation, he launched a strike at where the Dark One was touching reality, successfully patching the hole in reality- for a time. In the Dark One's backlash, he and all his Companions go insane, destroying the world in their insanity. The male half of the Power can't be used without causing the same insanity. Women become the dominant sex socially. The Dragon is held to be the worst human who ever lived, a servant of the Dark One who three thousand years before tried to destroy the world and failed.

And prophecy says that the Dark One will touch the world again, and the Dragon himself will be reborn to fight him and save the world- if he succeeds.

It is a world that is supposed to be the source of our myths and legends, both our future and our past. Pay attention to the myth references and folk characters in-series; everything from the Thousand Tales of Anla, the Wise Councilor (Ann Landers) to "a soft metal three-pointed star, which even at a distance reeked of vanity to her dreamwalking senses" (BMW symbol).
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LibraryThing member kayceel
I love this series. It's exciting, complex, scary and engrossing. I read Eye of the World for the first time in...maybe 1994?...and I've reread it countless times, usually right before a new book in the series is published.

This was my first time listening to the book, though. I very much enjoyed
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it, as did my daughter. We have a 30min drive to and from school, and the moment we climb into the car, I hear, "Book, mom?" We've had great discussions about predictions, foreshadowing, characters, etc., and she's only 6 1/2! (We also discuss the scary parts - evil guys included - and how fiction isn't real...)

Definitely recommended!
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LibraryThing member willszal
I read “The Eye of the World” for my first time over Christmas break in middle school. My mom had gotten me a mass-market paperback copy that was split into two volumes (both quite large). I remember laying on the run in front of the wood stove, reading long hours each day.

The Wheel of Time
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takes a decided bent towards prioritizing hundred-page scenes of people bickering, as though it has become some kind of soap opera. In order to get through that era, I listened to them on CD while I was driving the hour-long trip back and forth to high school.

And then, in my later high school years, Robert Jordan died. The series was taken over by Brandon Sanderson—an author my friends already admired. In a way, we’re lucky Sanderson took over the series. Jordan likely never would have finished it, drawing things out into volume after volume after volume (although he claimed he was going to put out one final wheel-barrow-sized tome to wrap things up). I, actually, have not yet finished the series. For the last few books, I and a few friends have been reading them aloud, and we haven’t had a chance to wrap things up yet.

Regardless, I thought now a good time to reread the first book (although I don’t intend to continue deeper into the series).

There are certain iconic scenes that have stuck with me since reading the book all those years ago—Thom’s tussle with the Fade; Rand falling over the wall into the royal gardens; sitting in the library of the Queen’s Blessing with Loial. Notably, the final scenes at the eye of the world had completely slipped my memory.

And, at the same time, I notice plenty of mistakes that I wouldn’t have as an early teenager—the way they wash the sheep before shearing (the wool would rot), and the way the Winespring flows out into Waterwood into a delta, to be met on the far side by the River Taren (a hydrological impossibility). As with most things, it also doesn’t stand up well in the MeToo era. Women are portrayed as incomprehensible, and secondary to men.

The magic of the Wheel of Time is what makes it so special for me; the way that Min can see auras; the way that Perrin is a wolfbrother; the way the Green Man can make things grow. These parts of the book are enchanting and meaningful.

There is something different about rereading a series. The characters have become old friends; we know them better than they know themselves. We chuckle to ourselves as they mature, in ways that have been foreshadowed by our memories of them.

One of the reasons I chose to reread the first book (and just the first book) is because it portrays an era of innocence and low expectations. Where as later in the series our main characters have become world leaders, at this stage, they’re just young men with some eccentricities. As I approach my forth decade, I feel the need to do something of significance with my life; it is a relaxing respite to read of people taking things a day at a time, who don’t yet know their importance.

Apparently when Jordan first proposed the Wheel of Time concept to Tom Doherty of Tor, he proposed a trilogy about an older man. They decided to make it about young men instead, to be more like the Lord of the Rings. I regret this decision. The entirety of the series tracks the lives of these young people over three years—in Rand's case, from the time he is seventeen to the time he is twenty. This is just too young to be ruling the world. It also doesn't leave enough time for the realistic development of skills and abilities.

Why does fantasy love Armageddon? From the Lord of the Rings, to the Wheel of Time, to the Stormlight Archive—they're all about the end of the world, the need for "unity," and war. Can't we have epic and magic tales in a setting that is a little more humble, a little more peaceful? Maybe it reflects our collective unconscious; the Western World feels as though we're on the brink of collapse (and there are plenty of pundits that would argue such a claim). Regardless, words have power, and by writing about the end of the world through violence, we invite it in.
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Pages

832

Rating

(4806 ratings; 4)
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