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Friday, 10 August 2012

The Eye of the World

A couple of my friends have been reading a certain fantasy series for years, telling me about it when they could, but more frequently nerding out in their own corner when they got together. The series sounded interesting to me, but it sounded like a lot of "work", being something like 14 novels by now. When they recommended I read it, I said I would but not until my life had freed itself up a little.

Well, my life is in a bit of a calm right now. I have things coming up, and I have things recently dealt with, but for now, I have time to read, so I thought I would give it a shot.

The series is called The Wheel of Time, and the first book in that series is called The Eye of  the World. Technically, there is a prequel novel, but I didn't know that when I started, and it was written several years after so whatever.

Remember when I said that magic was just starting to awaken in A Song of Ice and Fire? Well, magic is alive and well in The Eye of the World.

The story starts off in your typical small farming town, and the protagonists are no more than young men and women, and magic is a thing of legend; stories told around a campfire. Still, the legends are vivid and even when the characters shrug them off, they seem too real to ignore.

Of course, their peaceful, simple life is disrupted quite quickly, and they are soon whisked out of Nowheresville or Farmingtonshire or wherever and running/riding for their lives away from an evil which hunts them for a reason unbeknownst to them. Along the way, their guides, mysterious as they appear, begin to share more and more about the real world, and the magic within it.

This is fantasy at its highest. While other fantasy series combine the "realism" of a medieval age with the fantasy of a magical world, this book is quite straightforward with its magical elements. Everywhere the characters go, there is magic, whether it be supernatural creatures, otherworldly creatures, or abilities beyond that of mortal ken, The Eye of the World holds nothing back, concerning its magic.

It does, however, hold EVERYTHING else back. Seriously, this book is half magic mcMagicton and half truths. I am sorry for being so glib here, but the extent to which information is shielded from the characters, the extent to which dramatic irony is used, it was a little difficult for me to accept at first. It can be frustrating when you know something that a character doesn't, and it's really annoying when every character is just slightly uninformed. A friend of mine says he enjoys that about the series because it adds a touch of realism. "Wars are fought on misinformation, and it's nice that people don't just inexplicably know things." I agree with this, but I know it frustrated me at times.

Anyway, it is just something to get used to, and once I realized that's the way it was, and that information would make its way to me and to the other characters in time, (pun intended), I enjoyed the book a lot more. The world is expansive, intriguing, combining the classic elements of fantasy while adding refreshing bits of lore and playing with the perception of characters wonderfully. The first part of the book is difficult to settle into, being relatively unexciting (other than the prologue), but I had expected such from a high fantasy series with 14 books; the story can't race the entire time, you'd get tired.

One thing that did race just a little too quickly for my liking was the ending. The entire novel, you and the main characters are wondering who the "chosen one" is, who is "the Dragon reborn". While it is obvious who it is, the book dances around the issue just enough to give you a little pause and keep the characters guessing. And while the book builds things up to a climactic conclusion, I somehow felt the last part was rushed. Maybe it was just my frame of mind as I was reading it, but I just felt like things went from "who could it be? What threats will he face and how?" to "Bam! It's you, oh, you win, good job." I know it's not over, I know that without acknowledging the other books, the story did discuss how it was almost too easy and the threat that the characters faced was nothing compared to the one true evil, but still, I left wanting more in a way which is different than expected.

95% of me is satisfied with things and excited for the next book, but that last 5% feels a lack of closure, or resolution, from the first novel. I can't explain it, don't take it as a bitter taste or a reason to not dive into this series, but it was something I noticed, even after the fact.

Still, I am excited for the next novel. Things moved quickly after the first part of the book, and the elements of magic, good, and evil, and so present and interesting and exciting that I am can't wait to find out more of this world that Robert Jordan has made. Sadly, the next couple of books are in high demand in the library so I must move on and come back to it later, but if all the books in this series are as exciting as The Eye of the World, I'll really enjoy following the characters on their adventures; even with the dramatic irony, haha.

Merci pour votres temps!

1 comment:

  1. "Technically, there is a prequel novel, but I didn't know that when I started"

    Good! The prequel novel has a few spoilers in it, and shouldn't be read until after Book 10 (Crossroads of Twilight). That's when it was originally released, so it takes for granted that whoever reads it has already caught up with the rest of the books.

    Obviously I'm a pretty big fan of Wheel of Time, so I can't be -entirely- objective (I'm one of the aforementioned friends who urged Dallas to read the books), but I thought your judgement of the first book is very fair. I went straight into the second book after the first, so I really didn't have time after I read it to think about what loose ends were left behind, and avoided the feeling of the Two Rivers gang's victory being to swift.