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Wheel of Time Re-Read #1: The Eye of the World

It’s impossible for me to be objective about this series.  I first read The Eye of the World when I was in high school, I think when I was about 13.  It was my first real brush with epic fantasy and I completely loved it.  For a long time, every time I had a voucher or it was my birthday or whatever, I’d dodge into the Fantasy/Sci-Fi section of the local Waterstones (because I was an awkward teen and was embarrassed about reading fantasy) and snatch up the next Wheel of Time instalment.  Eventually, I’d read all of the books that were published and I had to wait with everybody else for the next book to be released.  And therein lies the reason for my re-read.  Eventually, the gap between me picking up each book became so long that I felt as though I was losing track of the plot and I read a couple of the books without really appreciating what was going on.  So I kept on buying them, intending to catch up one day and see the series through but never got round to it.  2015 is where that changes.  I really want to see where the story ends and I own them all so there’s no excuse.

Book One: The Eye of the World

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. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again: I love this series.

I’d actually forgotten just how much and, in particular, how damn much I loved the first book in particular.  As the series goes on, it introduces far more political wrangling but The Eye of the World is more about establishing the main characters and the overarching story with hefty doses of peril, narrow escapes, revelations and general adventuring goodness.

In short: Rand al’Thor, Perrin Aybara and Mat Cauthon are minding their own business in their village, Emond’s Field, when their peace is rudely interrupted by a marauding bunch of trollocs (which are as disgusting and troll-like as they sound) that seem to be intent on kidnapping the three for no apparent reason.  In their bid for safety, the three flee the terror with Moiraine, an aloof Aes Sedai (able to wield the One Power, the series’ brand of magic), her Warder, Lan, and Egwene al’Vere, another villager who sort of tags along because she fancies a bit of adventure.  Mayhem, magic and world-threatening chaos ensues.

The writing isn’t perfect, I’ll grant you, and it can feel a bit repetitive when it comes to character descriptions (you may gather that those from Emond’s Field are known to be stubborn, unless you’re stupid and miss the hundred or so references) but what it lacks in finesse, it more than makes up for in excitement.  Even though I sort of knew what was coming, I was hooked.  From the moment the trollocs turn up, the characters are bumped from one impending disaster to another, sometimes all together, sometimes not.

And the WORLD!  There’s so much world-building in these books.  Each town the characters visits has a background and feels different to the ones that went before it.  There’s a rich history hinted at in The Eye of the World that is built on in later books.  The Aes Sedai is full of factions and mysteries and secrets and the One Power is just plain cool (I was a teenager when I first read this book, allow me to regress!).  Some might criticise them for being a little heavy-handed with the fantasy tropes but I just don’t care.  I don’t 100% agree but even if I did, I still wouldn’t care.  Those things are classic for a reason.

Have I impressed on you how much I loved this book yet?!  Just in case I haven’t, I’ll try another angle:  I almost never re-read and I was wary of embarking on this particular re-read “project” in case I wound up hating a series that has held a dear spot in my heart for 15 years and that takes up a significant amount of shelf (or box, if we’re being accurate) space.  I’m an idiot.  I adored re-reading it.  I loved seeing cameos from characters that I knew would later have an important role to play and seeing hints at future plotlines, which I obviously didn’t appreciate the first time around.  I still found the story completely addictive and even a decade and a half after my unwitting induction into fantasy, the series remains my favourite epic fantasy series.  There, I said it.  I’ve read a lot of series since I first picked this book up and I still love Wheel of Time the most.  If you’ve got staying power, get it, read it and love it too.

Next up:  The Great Hunt

Ok, if you’ve made it through to the end of my over-enthusiastic gushing over The Eye of the World, I really feel as though I should share the Wheel of Time love.  If you fancy getting in at the ground level, you can enter below to win a copy of the first book.  Open to entrants from anywhere that Book Depository will ship for free – good luck!  If you don’t want to lug around an 800 page paperback and are more electronically inclined, I’ll try and gift a Kindle copy to you.

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