Series: The Wheel of Time
Author info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Jordan
Everyone, including my editor, roommate and my first beta reader has been bugging me to read the Wheel of Time for the longest time. The sheer size of the series made me push it to the back of the TBR stack cause I had other review commitments and ARC’s, but I finally got into it now. This is the first book of this magnificent series and I must say I read it until I fell asleep at night, it’s very hard to put it down.
First of all, it’s a damn good read and a 3 am in the morning page turner with top notch worldbuilding and intriguing characters, even after reading all that modern fantasy by Mark Lawrence, R. Scott Bakker, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss etc. That alone should say something.
Some folk told me the first book has a bit too much Tolkien influence and similarities to the LOTR plot lines, but I found that hardly noticable. There are a few parallels but the rich details, diverse cultures and cities, awesome original fantasy elements and the finely woven plot threads make the LOTR influence fade away quickly.
Supporting characters are incredibly well done and I liked them a lot. Another thing I must mention is the female characters. Nynaeve and Moiraine are some of the best I’ve read in fantasy so far. Their battle of wills was damn entertaining to read. Jordan’s female characters are brilliant, they have important roles and they aren’t there to look pretty and stand as the important male characters’ love interests. Also I love how they can be powerful and badass and yet still be feminine. They aren’t fighting men with breasts or immature girls pining over some dude half the time, they can take care of themselves and the others.
The main hero Rand felt like a looking glass character throughout the first book until the last few chapters. Now that I’m 3/4 through the second book, I must say Rand is one of the most impressive slow character development cases I have seen to date. One thing I have heard a lot about the Wheel of Time is the brilliant delayed gratification and how it pays off huge to stay patient and keep reading. I have already seen what they mean, and slow character development is realistic as hell.
The bard character Thom Merrilin was my favorite along with Moiraine, Lan and Nynaeve. He is a grumpy old man but funny as hell, and saves the day in quite a few places. I love it how it’s the greybeard bard saving the hero’s neck, and not the big muscular warrior wielding the sword. One of the many great details in this amazing book.
The intricate political plots were well done and I think the Game of Houses/Great Game concept might have influenced the game of Thrones, but it is a bit more colorful and exaggerated in places, yet quite entertaining to read. I have a feeling the political intrigue will get even more complex and epic as the story unfolds.
Another thing I really like about this book is how Robert Jordan establishes such a strong and detailed lore and feeds it to the reader without doing boring infodumps. One thing I can’t stand in books is the outdated wall of text style infodumps, I take pains to avoid it in my own writing. Robert Jordan did such an impressive job of it, all the lore and world info unfolds thread by thread, we get to see it through the characters’ eyes as we go along, not hit by gods-awful walls of text distracting from the story. I think every aspiring fantasy writer needs to read Patrick Rothfuss and Robert Jordan to learn how to convey lore and worldbuilding without slapping the readers with the horrendous infodumps.
Plot twists you don’t see coming and the brilliant foreshadowing is another thing that impressed me about this book, like I said even after reading all that modern fantasy and realistic grimdark books, The Eye of The World still managed to drop my jaw.
My only criticism is the name of the bad guy (sort of a fallen god) is the Islamic name of Satan and his main alias is too similar to a Solomonic demon’s name. With all the original elements and names in the book, that was a bit of a disappointment, albeit a minor one.
Long story short: You are missing out a LOT if you haven’t read this book (and the rest of the series!) I highly recommend it. In fact don’t call yourself a fantasy reader if you haven’t read Robert Jordan.