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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Eye of the World, Robert Jordan

Review by Katheryn Caffee

I picked up The Eye of the World sometime back in 1994 when I first entered college because I wanted something to read, not something to just glance through. I am a voracious reader, so the bigger the book, the better... and this one had a cover that intrigued me. I have always been particularly fascinated with the Medieval time period, so the image of riders, armour, swords and the sense of urgency on the faces drew me in like a moth to a flame.

Robert Jordan's The Eye of the World is the first book in one of the most widely read fantasy sagas of all time. As such, there is a huge body of work dissecting and discussing the themes, reasons, and characters introduced in this book, so here's my take on it...

The story opens in a small peasant village, Emond's Field that could have been just about any village near a mountain range in Europe or Russia that had been long forgotten by the nobility and left to survive on its own. The locals knew each other and the nearest villages, but not much else. As was common, the children and adolescents tended to group together by ages and genders, which made trio of Rand al'ThorMatrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara that wfocus on perfectly plausible. 

The inclusion of a fourth, not-quite-old-enough boy to this group, Egwene al'Vere also had a realistic feel. In fact when the action started to heat up with the first encounter with the Trollocs, soldiers lead by an undead Myrddraal officer, I was surprised by the inclusion of this fourth character, rather than just staying with the initial trio. However, instead of the expected developments, Jordan spun off a new plot line that provided a second thread to the tapestry of words he was weaving.

The pace of the book starts off a tad slow, but once you get into the meat of the story, be prepared for a roller coaster ride of excitement, suspense, dread, and relief. Several times the small group – two guardians, the trio of boys and the girl – wind up in situations that make you wonder how they will survive. Add in a couple of secondary characters – both in the role of unwilling guardians – and you have a recipe for a gripping tale.

I won’t get into dissecting the characters. In part, it is because to do so would provide spoilers, and in part because there are so many to talk about. Every character Jordan introduces you to by name has a purpose. Sometimes the purpose does not become apparent until a later instalment of the series, sometimes they serve their purpose immediately and can be set aside. I will say one thing about the characters in this book, however, some are more developed and thought out than others. A few don’t quite qualify as “cardboard cut-outs” but they come very close. I hope to see them develop more as the series continues.

Through it all Jordan does a wonderful job of keeping things on the move through well placed battle scenes, and a well developed world. From a backwater farming village to the cultural centres for art and learning, from the inland protected kingdoms to the borders where skirmishes occur on a regular basis, the cultures and people have a realism that draws you in and makes you not want to put the book down until you are finished. I can honestly say on several occasions I have tried to make this read in one oversized binge, I’m not sure it’s possible.

Source: Bought from a real book store.

IBR rating: ★★

Recommendation: A very well crafted world, well developed setting for the story, and wonderfully woven words that provided a gripping read.

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Item Reviewed: Eye of the World, Robert Jordan Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Saar
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