For today’s review, we look at a book that has been called a modern(ish) fantasy classic. Although it’s not universally praised, there are many in the fantasy world who adore this book. At the risk of alienating some of the precious few people who read this blog, I am going to go out on a limb and say that I did not love this book.
You may ask, what book are you referring to? Why wouldn’t you put the title first? Do you even know how to write? Fair points. Don’t despair. The book is…
THE EYE OF THE WORLD by Robert Jordan
This is the first installment in Jordon’s epic fantasy series: The Wheel of Time. He wrote many entries in this series, and even after he passed away, the books continued to come out. Also, Amazon is developing Wheel of Time into a series so it is relevant again.
I didn’t hate this book as much as some. I don’t curse its creation. Also, I’m generally aware of its common criticisms. It’s a Tolkien ripoff, its characters are dull and the story moves like a glacier.
It just so happens that I agree with these criticisms. Imagine that!
First, this book was not particularly shy about borrowing a little from Tolkien. In Lord of the Rings, we have Mount Doom. In The Wheel of Time, we have the Mountains of Dhoom. Honestly, this was the least of my criticisms. This book is very much its own book. It has its own fantasy setting. I didn’t read about a single dwarf or elf. Apart from plagiarizing a few geographical features, I did not see many other similarities. He probably should have landed on another name for the mountain. Mount Sadness? The Peaks of Annihilation! Death Summit! Death Summit clearly is the best choice.
But hold on there…I went this far without giving a synopsis. I feel great shame.
This book is about a dark, malevolent force that seeks to take over the world. Who will stop him? Who is the chosen one? Well, that brings us to a small farming town on the outskirts of everything. Three boys, roughly the same age, are being pursued by a dark rider. He is evil, and he has brought evil things with him. Fortunately, a wizard (an Aes Sedai) and her bodyguard (Warder) happen to come to the town just as evil descends. They all flee with an army of Trollocs (dog orcs?) on their trail. A few other people from the town come with them and they pick a few up on the way. It is a large party. They are not memorable.
That is a good segue into the second criticism. Our main character is Rand, one of the three farming boys. To me, Rand is …bland. (NAILED IT!) I had a hard time sympathizing with his character. Rand was paper thin. He just wanted to go home. He worried a lot. He seldom made important decisions. He was along for the ride.
The supporting cast of characters who filled out the remainder of the party are too many to name. Because there are so many, they do not get enough air time to allow for meaningful character development. One character goes dark side for a bit, another develops powers, there’s a strained romance. It felt very paint-by-numbers.
Finally, this was a long book. Let’s shave off about 300 pages and pick up the old pace. By the time they reach the actual Eye of the World, I was so over this book. The Eye itself, as well as the climax of the book, was confusing anyway.
Without beating this book to dust, I will say I rate it a 3.9 out of 10. It has its moments, certainly, but overall it just felt like a never-ending trek with one-dimensional characters. I started to understand why the Dark One wanted to kill them so badly.
One time in Disneyland, I was stuck on the “It’s A Small World After All” ride, and that song kept playing over and over again. I just wanted it all to end. That was this book. But I understand there are those who have dutifully read the entire series. More power to you. The books I prefer have a compelling plot, interesting characters, and a real ending. But hey, to each their own.
That’s all for now. I keep plugging away at the short story. It’s coming along. I look forward to typing at you some more. When these thoughts start piling up in my head, that’s when I put Pen to Keyboard.
[cue outro music]