I am no stranger to the epic fantasy series The Wheel of Time. Back when I was in university, I was pretty engrossed by it and read up to book seven or eight before the untimely death of the author in 2007. As the series was unfinished and it seemed pretty up in the air what would happen to it, it didn't seem worth continuing to read the books and I abandoned them. Now, six years later, the series has been finished by Brandon Sanderson, which means I can read them and finally finish it! I'm starting again at the beginning as it's a truly epic series and no way can I remember everything from my first read!
Book one in the series, The Eye of the World, focuses on three main characters, Rand, Mat and Perrin, all of whom live in a small village in the Two Rivers. One day two mysterious visitors arrive just before the village is attacked by Trollocs, creatures in the service of the Dark Lord. Moiraine, one of the visitors, turns out to be an Aes Sedai, a woman who can essentially use magic, which makes her the target of suspicion and hostility. It turns out that only three homes were attacked, those belonging to Rand, Mat and Perrin, which convinces them to join Moiraine and travel to her city of Tar Valon, to find out why they were targeted. On the way, the journey becomes perilous as the Dark One seems determined to either kill the boys or bring them under his thrall, and they face many challenges.
The plot of The Eye of the World sounds kind of cheesy when I type it out like that, and certainly it's a traditional fantasy type book, in which a simple village boy is destined to fight evil. But it's much more than that too. Jordan's world building is truly amazing and reading the book is like being transported entirely to his world, which has a complete mythology of its own. I like the idea of good and bad being caught in an eternal battle, in which there is never a victor (because isn't that like real life?) and I liked that Jordan was able to immerse the reader in his world, rather than constantly explaining things. There's a good ratio of showing to telling.
I also appreciated the ambiguity in the characters. Moiraine is an Aes Sedai, which means she can touch saidar, the female half of a power that can be channelled and used. Although Aes Sedai have done many good deeds in the world, they are completely mistrusted and throughout this novel, you're never really sure of her motivations. The lines between good and evil are more blurred than you might expect from this type of fantasy novel, seen again with something that happens to Perrin in the later stages of the book.
The Eye of the World is a long book at 782 pages, and it's only the first volume in a series that contains fourteen books. Therefore, choosing to read this series is a big under-taking. Although a lot happens in The Eye of the World, Jordan does include too much description of the places the characters visit and this does slow the pace at times. I very much enjoyed it and am excited to pick up the next volume, but if you are new to fantasy, I would recommend George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series before you try this one. It's pacier and darker and has more political intrigue and less magic/mythological creatures. But if you like fantasy, I don't think you can go wrong with The Wheel of Time series. I can't wait to read the next one.
Source: Personal copy
First Published: 1990
My Edition: Orbit, 2013
Score: 4 out of 5
I haven't heard of this series, but I enjoy epic fantasies so I'm going to look for this one.ReplyDelete
If you like epic fantasies, you should try this one. Hope you enjoy it!Delete
I've read the first six books of the series and am very much enjoying it. I agree with you about Jordan's world building; it's pretty incredible.ReplyDelete
I remember loving what I read last time, so I'm really excited about reading and finishing this series.Delete
I think it's great that you're starting from the beginning and giving the Wheel of Time another try. I've loved this series since my dad recommended the first book when I was in high school. Robert Jordan's world-building is second to none. I reread the books during my first year teaching high school English literature. I was working with meaty classics and needed some bedside table reading that was both familiar and immersive.ReplyDelete
I can imagine these books were perfect for your first year teaching! During my first term, I reread Harry Potter, it was so comforting.Delete
Have you finished the whole series?
New to me as well. The size of the book may put me off!ReplyDelete
It is super long but actually very easy to read, so the length isn't as much of an issue as you might think.Delete
Ohh I'm a sucker for world building. I'd probably go and buy this one right away if I didn't commit to the fantasy series of which I already own a book at home. I'm not sure I'm going to juggle two epic fantasy series at the same time, though.ReplyDelete
But one day! (As I've thought already for years, when it comes to The Wheel of Time series :))
Which fantasy series are you committed to already? I'd love to know because if I haven't read it, I can add it to my list!Delete
I don't think I like straightforward epic fantasies, but I've been thinking of trying The Wheel of Time for a long time! The big one I've been recommending lately to people who think they don't like fantasy is The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Now waiting for the third book in the trilogy to come out!ReplyDelete
I must read The Name of the Wind, I actually own it but haven't started it yet. I've heard so many good things about it though....Delete
That is a lot of pages! As a fantasy lover, I'm ashamed that I've never read this series, but feel daunted at the length and wonder if the story feels at all disjointed what with two authors at the helm. Will be interested to follow your journey though the books.ReplyDelete
It is a lot of pages but it is super easy to read, so it doesn't feel half as long as it is! Hopefully it won't feel too disjointed when I get to the Brandon Sanderson books.Delete
I like the sound of this series. I am currently reading A Song of Ice and Fire so probably won't attempt another epic series until I've finished that!ReplyDelete
Ah, I loved ASOIAF, enjoy :)Delete
I'm trying to convince myself to read some epic fantasy before World Fantasy Con but they're all sooooo long. I think I'm scared I'll take a whole month reading just one book.ReplyDelete
They are long, but they are very easy to read, so you don't feel the length as much as you would in a classic or literary fiction book. I'd try Game of Thrones first, it's the best epic fantasy series in my opinion.Delete
Yeah I've read A Game of Thrones but only after watching the TV show. I would have been completely lost just going straight into the books. Have got about 20% into the second and lost momentum.Delete
I adore this series, and it's one of the few longer series that I have read every single book of.ReplyDelete
I can't wait until I have read every single book in the series!Delete
My brother-in-law is just rereading these books now. Like you, he got stuck on the seventh or eighth book (I can't remember which one of those he says is the worst of the series, but he did say seven/eight/nine was a choke point for him), and now he's going back and reading the entire series. It sounds fun but maybe too much of a commitment for me at the moment.ReplyDelete
Yes, I do remember the middle books being weaker than the beginning ones, but I think that's always the case?Delete
I think I'm probably going to wait awhile to read these books, just because the series is SO LONG. And I always feel a bit weird about series that are continued/ended by a person other than the original author of the series.ReplyDelete
That being said, I think I'll enjoy the focus on magic & creatures. I like GRRM's series, but sometimes it's just too much politics and not enough fantasy.
It is extremely long! I'm OK with another author joining in, as I know that Robert Jordan had already planned the end, and Sanderson has stayed true to that.Delete