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Review Revisited: Robert Jordan – The Eye of the World

November 7, 2014

Re-read. The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan (1990)
The Wheel of Time, Book 1

Read my review of book:
12. The Gathering Storm
13. The Towers of Midnight
14. A Memory of Light

Read By: Michael Kramer & Kate Reading
Length: 28h 41m (832 pages)

Genre: Epic Fantasy

Originally Read: 20 September 2004 (and twice – or three times? – since)
Re-read Started: 10 September 2014
Re-read Finished: 28 September 2014

Where did it come from? The library (the audiobook, anyways; I have a paper copy too but wanted to re-listen).
Why do I have it? I’ve been meaning to re-read the whole series since the final one came out last year, and now seemed like as good a time as any!

BRB, I’m just
leaving my sheep farm to go
and fight the Dark One.

Summary: The small village of Emond’s Field is attacked by Trollocs, fearful beasts that everyone had assumed existed only in legend. Rand Al’Thor, a shepherd, and his two friends, Mat Cauthon and Perrin Aybara, seem to have been the targets of the attacks, although none of them can fathom why. They leave Emond’s Field with Moiraine, a mysterious Aes Sedai of Tar Valon, her warder Lan, Thom Merrilin the gleeman, and two young women: Egwene Al’Vere and Nynaeve Al’Meara, the village Wisdom. They are pursued on their road, both physically by more trollocs, and mentally (the boys, at least) by the incarnation of the Dark One, even though he is supposed to be bound in Shayol Ghul. Although Moiraine and Lan seem able to protect the boys, it is difficult for them to trust her intentions – everyone knows that while Aes Sedai do not lie, the truth you hear may not always be the truth you think. Eventually, the party becomes separated in the haunted ruin of Shadar Logoth. Eventually they all make their way to the capital city of Camelyn; Mat, Rand and Thom via a river boat and several encounters with Darkfriends, Egwene and Perrin via the Tuatha’an and the Whitecloaks. But there they must make a choice, for they have all heard rumors about the Dark One, and his intentions to strike at the Eye of the World.

Original Review (written after my first re-read in 2006): So, this is the book that got me hooked on this series… hooked like a fish. The characters are relateable, the action moves along at a quick clip, even given its length. I appreciate the fact that the world-building is so incredibly complex, yet the exposition is not spoon-fed to the reader – you slowly build your sense of the world and its history and rules as the book (and series) progresses. This book does not give it all away, but drops plenty of hints of (and clues about) mysteries and revelations yet to come. I have to admit, the trip to the Eye of the World, despite being the title, seems to come as an afterthought – 5/6th of the book is spent on their trip from the Two Rivers to Camelyn, and the battle at the Eye is one of the weaker book-ending battles of the series. Still, this book very effectively sucked me in to an incredibly detailed world, and made me care about the characters from chapter one. Not the best literature ever, but fun and engrossing and dangerously addictive!

Thoughts on a Re-read: I love these books. I spent so long totally absorbed in this world when I first discovered them that I feel like I know these characters, and so starting with the first book was like coming home to friends. I didn’t remember just how much Jordan packs into this first book – we first meet not only the Emond’s Fielders, but also Padan Fain, Min, Loial, Elayne, Gawyn, Galad, Elaida, Morgause, Bayle Doman, Aram, Elyas, Agelmar, and others who play such a large role in later books. We get our first trip through the Ways, our first visit to Baerlon, Caemlyn, Sheinar, and the Blight, our first glimpse of the Aiel, and of the Tower of Ghenji (even though we don’t know what it is for another twelve-odd books). We learn of Artur Hawkwing, the history of Manetheren, the loss of Malkier. And, as I said in my original review, it’s all unfolded naturally, no infodumping, but history and geography and culture talked about as it would be talked about by real people who already know it.

While I remembered a lot of the details of the story, I’d forgotten how many of them take place in just the first book, if that makes sense. And memorable scenes, like the dark rider following Rand and Tam on the forest road, or the dream of the dark one where he breaks the spine of a rat, or the shadowy mists of Shadar Logoth. I’d also forgotten how closely focused the first book stays on Rand, given how widely the latter books range for their POV characters. Kate Reading has relatively little narration work to do here; the vast majority of the chapters are from Rand’s point of view, with most of the remainder from Perrin. Also, it was so nice to see Perrin the way he was before Faile – he wasn’t my favorite yet (that happens in book 2), but he’s pretty awesome. Mat, on the other hand, spends most of this book being kind of obnoxious (which I’d also forgotten) – admittedly, a lot of it is the influence of the dagger, but I’m eager to get to the later books where he starts being awesome rather than annoying.

I enjoyed the re-read especially this time, knowing how things were going to work out, being able to look at things like Min’s visions or Rand’s giddiness in Baerlon and know what they meant (mostly). But really, I just enjoyed getting submerged in Jordan’s world again. The series undeniably has its flaws, and 14 volumes of epic fatty-fat fantasy is never going to be to everyone’s taste. But it was one of the first books that I remember pulling me into its world so completely, so immersively, that I can’t help but love it. 5 out of 5 stars.

This Review on LibraryThing | This Book on LibraryThing | This Book on Amazon

Other Reviews: Many of ’em over at the Book Blogs Search Engine.
Have you reviewed this book? Leave a comment with the link and I’ll add it in.

First Line: The palace still shook occasionally as the earth rumbled in memory, groaned as if it would deny what had happened.

As a side note, the prologue to this book always makes me laugh, even though it really shouldn’t, partly from Michael Kramer’s reading of “ILYENNNNNAA!” and partly because it makes me think of the Judges’ Choice winner from Brandon Sanderson’s Wheel of Time Photoshop contest.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2014 4:22 pm

    I love this series too for its strength and its flaws. I need to do a reread myself. I have the ebooks so I wouldn’t need to lug the “fatty-fat” books around. Besides I don’t think my paperbacks of the first few would survive another read.

  2. November 28, 2014 2:05 pm

    I tried leaving a comment once and I think I had a problem with my internet connection, so if I’m posting this twice, it’s unintentional.

    I really enjoyed my re-read too! I don’t remember noticing that the ending was kind of weak on my first read through, but my fiance is listening to these books for the first time as I do my re-read and I know he felt it was underwhelming. I can definitely see that now, but knowing how exciting things are going to get in the next book, I don’t mind. I’ve also loved meeting all of the characters again, knowing where they’ll end up and how many of them play important roles in the story. The worldbuilding is the main reason I love this series. It’s so detailed and it does fit very naturally within the story. Like you, I would give it 5/5 stars despite its flaws :)

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