Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Wheel of Time reread: "The Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan

So, two weeks ago I started a reread of complete "The Wheel of Time" series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson. I read these books several times, especially first five books. "The Eye of the World" I must have read at least five times, probably even more, but this was all three or more years ago. I was pretty happy to read this book again - it felt all right.

Rand al'Thor is a young man, a shepherd like his father, living in quite peaceful and unimportant village called Emond's Field, in region called Two Rivers. His life is abruptly changed after his farm and village get attacked by Trollocs, monstrous creatures of Dark One that haven't been seen in these parts for hundreds of years. Surviving the attack, he is told by mysterious Moiraine that he and his two friends, Mat Cauthon and Perrin Aybara, were the target of the attack. She is revealed as Aes Sedai, a member of female order of magic-wielding Channelers, dedicated to fight against the Dark One, but feared by most people. She also tells them that their only option is to follow her out of Two Rivers to save their village of further attacks, which will at the same time give them opportunity to find out why is the Dark One after them. So they embark on the journey, led by Moirane and her Warder Lan, and accompanied by Egwene, willful girl from their village and Thom Merillin, traveling entertainer with much more in his past. At the same time, the three of them start having the same dream, in which they encounter a man in black that calls himself Ba'alzamon,...

I must say I had trouble with writing a brief synopsis of the book, and that I am not really satisfied with it - it doesn't captures enough details and meanings. This is one of the things that had drawn me into this book the first time I have read it - complex and detailed setting. Even though this is the first book of long series (and authors are usually quite self-restrained with first books in case it doesn't get popular) it has one the the best defined and detailed setting. "Malazan Book of the Fallen" is more complex (it is one a whole different level), but Wheel of Time manages to be complex without being difficult. Well, all this becomes more evident in further books, but "The Eye of the World" still sets the basic rules and notions - the history, geography, One Power, Aes Sedai, Shadowspans. From my current perspective, I can see some minor flaws that I haven't noticed back then, but nothing that would spoil my reading. And of course, some of these notions will end abandoned in future books, but Jordan was able to make it look as he planned it from the start.

Of course, "The Wheel of Time" follows classical approach of epic fantasy, which it is full of familiar tropes: good guys are white/bright/nice looking, bad guys are black/shadowy/ugly; there is lots of strict honor-codes, shy romance, people don't going to toilets... But familiar doesn't mean bad. Although this sounds trashy, Jordan was really able to put spirit and novelty to same old stuff. So yes, Rand, Mat and Perrin are typical young country folks in process of becoming princes, Moiraine is a wise counselor, Lan is honorable warrior, etc. But nevertheless, I enjoy reading about them.

It is curious how many times I remembered "The Dragon Reborn" and how many important events happened there, but this will have to wait until I read through to that book.

I always think as "Malazan Book of the Fallen" as the best series I ever read and of "The Wheel of Time" as my favorite series. And "The Eye of the World" is the perfect start and representation of the series: a classical epic fantasy tale full of honor, struggle, romance, magic and epic. If you are into this things, there is no better series to read (well, except "The Lord of the Rings", but you can't live only on one article).

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