Book Review: The Eye of the World (Robert Jordan)

After a weeklong vacation, I’m back. In the saddle, that is. And before you ask, I’m not one of those weirdos who writes blog posts and stories in a saddle. I sit in a chair like most normal people (however weird I may be elsewise). Regardless, I’m back in a figurative saddle writing non-figurative blog posts.

And now that I’ve dawdled away the first paragraph, I can launch into the subject of the blog post: the first book of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Namely, The Eye of the World. I recently started reading the Wheel of Time series (since it’s beloved by many and I wanted to get a good grasp on popular literature outside of the Lewis and Tolkien I was raised on) and I’m here to give you my first impressions on the first novel in the series, having finished it.

First, a note on the nature of my book reviews: I’m only going to post these every once in a while, so don’t expect another book for quite some time. When I do, it will probably be a different book from another series, and maybe it will be more obscure, and maybe not. However, if you’ve got a book in mind that you’d like to me to look over, be sure to leave a comment in the comments’ section down below about it. I might get around to it at some point.

Second, some slight background on the Wheel of Time: It was written by James Oliver Rigney Jr. (known by most by the pseudonym Robert Jordan). Okay, that’s not quite true: the last three books in the series were written after Jordan’s death by a writer friend of his based off the dead author’s notes. However, Jordan is widely and unanimously considered the author of the Wheel of Time series.

Without further ado, let’s get on to the review.

My first impressions of the book were that it opened slowly and mysteriously, but large parts of it were left unexplained. Although they were explained later, Jordan doesn’t try to “break in” the reader with a lot of action or intrigue. The setting is peaceful and uneventful, having little to do with things of importance with the world at large.

However, as the book progresses, the pace begins to quicken. As it does, it retains the pace very well: once it gets going, it doesn’t wind down or stop until the end. On that front, Jordan handled the book very well. The plot follows the standard trope of “the heroes want to get to X place, but are delayed and separated along the way”.

The premise of the book, although not explained until later, was fantastic in my opinion. It was delightfully lore-y and mystical, setting a dark past for the Wheel of Time universe. (Sometimes called “The World of the Wheel” or “Randland” by fans) no spoilers here, but know that Jordan crafts a backstory to his world that is simple in gist and easy to follow but affects much of how the world works in drastic ways.

As far as the characters were concerned, they were (for the most part) original and fun. While not exactly caricatures, a few of them did show traits that seemed more cookie-cutter fantasy than most (the clueless nobody, the warrior guy, the wizard), and in that sense very few of them seemed new. But since literally everyone uses these standard character tropes, it’s easily pardonable (if it’s even a trespass at all).

The characters were relatable and down to earth. Jordan really captures a certain element in each: Rand is stubborn, Lan is stern, Moiraine is mysterious, Thom is clever, Nynaeve is irritable, and so forth. They all fill their roles very well, and in so being rarely exit their normal personalities for any reason whatsoever. They’re not predictable, in the sense of being simple or unnuanced, but character deviation is kept to a minimum. Jordan characterizes this well with each character having a distinct way of speaking.

My only criticism here would be that Jordan has a notably enormous cast of characters (a whopping 2784 distinctly named ones throughout the series) and it’s sometimes hard to keep up with everything. However, since most of those characters play little or no role in the story, it doesn’t happen to be much of a problem. It’s just that few readers can keep up with than effectively.

As far as influences are concerned, I sensed strong Tolkien vibes. The story starts in a sleepy village (the Shire or Two Rivers) the hero is a clueless kid (Frodo or Rand) and meets up with a mysterious magic-user (Gandalf or Moiraine) and a stern swordsman (Aragorn or Lan) and embarks on a dangerous journey in which the clueless kid’s two friends (Merry and Pippin or Mat and Perrin) tag along, the objective of which is to get to this magical city (Rivendell or Tar Valon) where they’ll be safe from the Dark Lord (Shai’tan or Sauron).

It might be a good comparison to say that what Dune is to Star Wars, Lord of the Rings is to The Wheel of Time. Both borrow heavily on their predecessors to create something similar, yet new and distinct from the rest. The Wheel of Time also takes many influences from eastern mythology, and that’s something refreshing to see in a fantasy from the West.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and I can definitely recommend it to any peeps out there who are are looking for their next read (if you haven’t already, that is). I’m already working my way through the second novel, which is shaping up to be even better than the first, albeit darker.

Good luck, and happy writing!

Be sure to check out my latest novel, Book 1 in the Praetors of Lost Magic Series, and our Publications page. Until then, writers!


Published by Van Ghalta

A cold, dark, mysterious character who purposefully wrote a story so that he could fit into it...A story where he himself WRITES stories, practices martial arts, blogs, plays airsoft, collects MTG trading cards, plays outdated video games, and writes weird, third-person bios for himself...

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