June 28, 2013

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

I first picked up this book when I was in middle school, got about a hundred pages in and had to stop because I just didn't understand it at all.  A few years later I picked it up again and fell completely in love with the series (even wrote a book report in high school on the use of religion in the series).  That being said, this isn't a series for those that like short stories, it's massive, and this is only the first book, which has almost 800 pages itself.

Rand Al'Thor was just a common sheepherder looking forward to a holiday in town when his world is racked by monsters out of legend attacking the village.  He and two of his friends (Perrin and Mat) seem to be at the center of it and they leave town with a few strangers (Thom the Gleeman performer, Moiraine  the Aes Sedai magician figure and her protector warder Lan) and a couple of stowaway townsfolk (Nynaeve the village healer and Egwene her apprentice) that had come in by happenstance at the same time as the festival.  But danger lurks around every path and it would seem that the Dark One wants Rand and his friends badly. So much that he'll send every dark figure at his disposal to hunt them down wherever they go.

There are so many characters in this book that I think it was what overwhelmed me the first time I tried to read it.  You really have to stop, think about what's going on, and sort them out in your head in order to really enjoy the book.  It's kind of like playing a game with complicated rules that you almost give up out of frustration with at first, but then once you learn the rules, are obsessed with playing.  I actually like Rand, he seems to be the main character in this first book although Perrin and Mat are mentioned quite a bit as well.  They all have unique personalities and while Perrin probably my favorite, he is a little more reserved than the others.  Rand is mainly confused during the whole book, but in a way that is believable while Mat is the goofball of the book.  The women, their characters are interesting but they seem to share a lot of traits.  And they apparently have allergies, they sniff a lot.  But if you can overlook some of the character flaws you do grow to care about the characters and what happens to them.  My only other complaint would be that Moiraine is a little too powerful to be believable.

This is a long book and heavily detailed.  It may be too detailed for some and I actually don't like a lot of detail myself, but in this book I don't care as much because to me it is interesting detail.  I like how Jordan takes the time to say how the clothes and buildings of the different cultures vary and the customs of the people.  It makes it seem very real.  And even with the book being so long the pace is mostly good.  It gets a bit bogged down in the middle, but not as much as you'd expect for a book as detailed as it is.  There was one part in the writing that I noticed was duplicated though and a bit confusing.  While traveling, Mat and Rand encounter two men that say the same thing to them and give them scarves.  I don't know if it was a flashback gone bad or something else, but it didn't flow well in the story.  But otherwise, everything seems to be fairly consistent.  And the magic and fantasy elements in this book are great.  I like the way that Jordan has built his world and incorporated fantasy into it and while not wholly unique, it has a lot of different spins to it than other fantasy writers.

There's really so much more I could say about this book but I think it would be hard to understand without actually reading it.  Just the sheer volume of characters alone is hard to describe and because they consistently pop up through the series it's not as if they are disposable.  If you're looking for a series to read and last awhile, this surely is the one to read.  Especially if you're into fantasy.

The Eye of the World
Copyright 1990
800 pages

No comments:

Post a Comment