“The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again.”From Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
I don’t know about you, but when I read these words (which btw, are the first words of Chapter One), I knew I would be going on an epic adventure across a massive world that spans 14 books. I am ready. It’s taken me a while to gear myself up to reading this book because it is long with each book being a massive undertaking, but I’ve been wanting to read this series and I’m making it the only 2021 reading challenge.
Before I read the book, I wanted to get into what it’s about. I have to admit, this series is intimidating and I’d heard rumors about its length, the repetitive nature of Robert Jordan, the lulls in the book, and some of the sexist commentary. So I needed a bit of a boost to get me started in reading this epic series.
I started with watching BookTube videos who introduce some of the world to me. The one I watched was from YouTuber, Daniel Greene, who discusses the high points of the story without giving too much away. You can watch that here:
I also saved this series from the Tor.com blog. It’s a reread of the entire series with spoilers, which is great to get into after you’ve finished reading the sections (tons of spoilers). I would highly recommend if you’re a bit confused by what’s happening.
And if you’re not the article reading type, a friend from my book club also suggested The Dragon Reread, which is a podcast that’s rereading all of The Wheel of Time. These are great companions while you read, but be warned it’s heavy with the spoilers.
So let’s get into the book! Because this is also a bit of a review post of The Eye of the World, the first book in the Wheel of Time series.
In many ways, this first book felt like I was reading Lord of the Rings. Many of the characters kind of felt like they were characters from Tolkien’s story. From what I’ve heard, it’s supposed to be a little bit like that because Robert Jordan was bringing homage to the father of modern fantasy. However, that’s basically where the comparisons end. This is NOT Middle Earth and I’m glad for it because I didn’t come to this series wanting to read more about Frodo and the One Ring. I came to this series because I love fantasy novels and I wanted to discover some of the “greatest” fantasy novels of all time.
The cast of characters is very big. I thought Priory of the Orange Tree had a lot of characters, but this book has a massive cast of characters. Granted, you’re only following a core group so you don’t have to remember everyone so that might ease your mind a bit. I already love these characters so much and they go through a lot in this book. They start off in a small town called Two Rivers and for the most part, they’re average humans. Rand, who is our main character, is a sheepherder. His existence hasn’t been of anything significant, but when the Dark One starts to infiltrate his dreams, it becomes apparent that he’s more than just a sheepherder. I think this is what really sold me on the book. I’m a huge fan of the hero’s journey and while I’m not as big of a fan of Chosen Ones, I’m okay with this one because of what happens at the end. I won’t get into it because of spoilers, but the reveals at the end of the novel and how our brave hero deals with it is what solidified this series for me.
The friendships between this cast of characters. I’m a huge fan of ensembles in books, so reading different perspectives, their relationship to one another, their emotions and getting into the feelings between each other, are all pluses in my book. I also love that each character is so well created. Each of them have their very distinct personality to the point where you can guess what they’re going to do next. I love that about characterization.
What else is very intriguing is the world building. I think even at the end of this novel there’s still a lot of world we don’t know about, but we get a taste of how it works. I’m most intrigued by the Aes Sedai and this juxtaposition of male and female magic users. It’s kind of interesting that magic is held by women, but they’re considered witches for it. And then there’s males who haven’t had magical powers for centuries, but they’re considered dragons. I don’t know. There’s a lot there that we only get a little bit of and I can’t wait to unpack that and get into it a bit more.
A lot happens in this first book as well. It almost feels like it could have been two or three books off this one book and I think that’s what made it more interesting to read. As the first book of a series, it’s most definitely inviting. But because there’s the internet, we can read into what happens more especially with the resources above.
I wanted to get into a longer series like this because I wanted something that I can always return to and feel that level of comfort reading. And I’m so glad I picked this series because it is vast. Once Rand and company starts journeying out to find meaning to the dreams, then it starts to get good. Tons of action moments sidled with long journey days and emotions in these characters that felt super realistic. I know this is going to be a long series and I really welcome it.