Epic fantasy is a genre that often features whole new realised worlds, creative creatures not in our own world, and, more often than not, a big journey. Lord of the Rings arguably shot this genre into the mainstream. Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World and subsequent series fleshed out the genre and realised its potential.
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The Eye of the World has many similarities to The Lord of The Rings – there’s a young man who gets unintentionally involved in this much larger plot to save the land he currently inhabits. He’s joined by his friends and some wiser companions who aim to give him support and advice on his way. In fact, the first book in this epic series essentially plays off the success of The Lord Of The Rings and adds its own concepts.
Plot – 4/5
When The Two Rivers is attacked by creatures called Trollocs, a savage tribe of half-men, half-beasts, five villagers must flee the town into an adventure that will change all of their lives completely. Rand Al-Thor is our main protagonist, accompanied by Matrim (Mat) Cauthon, Perrin Aybara, Egwene al’Vere, and Nynaeve al’Meara. This band of young adventurers are accompanied by Aes Sedai Moiraine Damodred, her Warder Al’Lan Mandragoran. An Aes Sedai is essentially a group of women who I think Robert Jordan just didn’t want to refer to as “witches” and some of these have “warders” who essentially are their bodyguards and protectors. The team journey for miles to eventually hopefully defeat the one true evil, Ba’alzamon.
If you have any interest in fantastical worlds, lore and creatures, you’ll love this book. Despite the clear inspiration from LOTR, Robert Jordan’s imagination is evident throughout the book as he creates some fascinating cultures and histories to back up these cultures. The crew meet many new characters and get involved in all sorts of trouble along the way which I found myself truly engrossed in. Throughout, you’re forever knowing that there’s going to be many subsequent books (there are fourteen in the series) so you know there’s lots of great cultures and content still yet to come.
I loved the world-building, cultures and such, however, I can’t say I was blown away by a particularly intelligent plot. You know some novels that feel like they had their ending planned the whole time and everything has twisted toward that end? That didn’t happen here. It did feel like Jordan knew how he wanted it to go, but with an 800+ page book, it’s hard to plan every twist and turn beforehand.
Characters – 4.5/5
The Eye of the World features a diverse selection of characters from many different backgrounds. Something that J.R.R. Tolkein did so well with his series, Jordan does well here too. There are many different races with different backs stories, differing lengths of histories, religions, ideals and much more. It does create a very fulfilled world and a fascinating one to get lost in.
Are the characters we follow particularly compelling? No. I would argue that Jordan doesn’t give the characters enough humour or enjoyment of life. But then I guess the predicament they find themselves in wouldn’t give many people much enjoyment anyway. Though due to a large number of characters and Jordan’s deep imagination for their ideologies, I can’t rate down this section too much.
The Eye of the World summary – 5/5
The Eye of the World sets off one of the longest and most incredible pieces of epic fiction the genre has seen. The Eye of the World sets up this deep, incredible world beautifully and crafts a journey that will make you want to pick up the second book instantly. As I’ve mentioned before, there are a lot of books in this series, there are a lot of pages, there are a lot of characters and there is a lot to remember. But there’s also a lot to enjoy and a lot to get your teeth into.
If you’re into fantasy, I can’t recommend The Eye of the World enough. This is an epic fantasy which means it includes more far-fetched magic systems, creatures, and fiction ideas than regular fantasy, but if that’s something you’re into, then pick this book up now.