Three youngsters, who are also close friends, live in an isolated village. A village whose inhabitants are, for the most part, unaware of the outside world. They’re preparing for a grand festival at the start of the novel. A day prior to the said festival, the youngsters frequently glimpse a mysterious black cloaked rider with sheer malevolence in his unseen eyes. Sounds oddly familiar?
Yes, The Eye of the World, first book of The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan has a lot of bizarre similarities with Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings (LOTR hereon). It seems if Robert Jordan had LOTR handy when he was writing this book. If you go deeper, though, things get a lot different.
The premise is pretty interesting if not totally original. The fictional world in The Wheel of Time is called ‘Randland’ by the fans of the series. The name is derived from the central character of the series, Rand al’Thor.
At the dawn of time, the Creator formed the world and The Wheel of Time which has seven spokes, each spoke representing an age. The Wheel rotates incessantly, spinning every life that exists, with it rotating under the influence of the One Power which emanates from the True Source. The One Power is also the source of all the magic in the world. There are very few who can wield the One Power. Those who can, are called Channelers. The principle organization of the Channelers are called Aes Sedai who are pretty similar to Elves in LOTR. When the Creator forged the world, it also imprisoned its antithesis, The Dark One in a prison in Shayol Ghul far north who happens to be main antagonist of the series. He is imprisoned, you see, but he can still access the minds of the people. Due to this power, he constantly tries to persuade them to help him escape from his prison and promises them immortality and other incredible abilities. Those who are convinced become Darkfriends, a bit like Deatheaters from the Harry Potter (Rowling, I see what you did there). The Dark One also has his own army which consists of Trollocs (similar to Orcs in LOTR) and Myrddraal (similar to Nazgul in LOTR).
The main character, Rand al’Thor lives near a village called Emond’s Field. He and his two friends Matrim “Mat” Cauthon and Perrin Aybara sense a faint image of a black rider (who is revealed to be a Fade). The image is so faint that they’re not even sure that they did see anything. When the village is attacked by a Trolloc army led by the Fades, a mysterious beautiful woman and her muscular companion fight for the village wielding One Power and eventually defeat the Dark One’s puny army but most of the village is turned into a ruin. The woman is revealed afterwards to be an Aes Sedai and her impassive companion is one of the Warders, people who bond with Aes Sedai and get mutual advantages. The Aes Sedai, Moiraine tells the three friends that the village was attacked because the Dark One wants each or one of them for some unknown reason. And she has to find out that reason. After that most of the novel tells about their adventures while running from the Trollocs and Fades and Darkfriends. They become separated and reunite later but I’d rather not spoil your fun. There’s a very interesting revelation in the end.
Writing is very good and action, incessant. There are some very interesting and different aspects to this world. Things get a bit dull sometimes, but it’s rare and not too bad.
If you love fantasy and/or a good deep story-line, this books is for you. I think even LOTR fans will adore it. A reviewer truly said about this book and also the series as whole, “Jordan has come to dominate the world Tolkien began to reveal with The Wheel of Time.”
Best Quote in the book: “In wars, boy, fools kill other fools for foolish causes”
If you do read it, please let me know in the comments below if you liked it or hated it.