The “Wheel of Time” series is the best book series I have ever read, and “The Eye of the World” is the first book in this series. Published in 1990 it still holds up as a great book, worthy of recognition. I would rank “The Wheel of Time” as being better than any other series, including the Harry Potter series. In my opinion it is one of the best book series ever written, and I would encourage you to read it. It was written by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, who took over after Jordan died. There are a lot of surprises in the first book, because they need to build the world that the characters liv in. There are 14 books in the whole series, and they only get better the farther you go. To understand why these books are so good, you must start at the first one: in this case, that is “The Eye of The World.”
“The Eye of the World” starts with an introduction on events that happened hundreds of years ago. We are seeing through the eyes of an insane man called Lews Therin Talamon. This man views the world through the haze of insanity, and doesn’t see the world actually around him, but we do. He is in a ruined castle, and his entire family including his wife, are dead right in front of him. A man clad in black appears in front of him and mocks him, then uses magic supplied by “The Great Lord of The Dark” to heal his insanity. Talmon remembers who he is, a man known as The Dragon who fought the lord of the dark until he managed to imprison him with seals of magic, but not before Dark Lord tainted the source of magic, and it drove Talmon insane, making him kill his family and allowing the Dark Lord’s armies to advance on the world. Ashamed and horrified, he teleports away and kills himself by drawing in more magic (called “The One Power”) than his body can handle, and forming an enormous mountain of black rock while causing earthquakes and floods for many miles around, creating a ripple effect around the world.
We are then transported to present day, where the land is once again peaceful, and those events that happened so long ago are reduced to legends. The Dark Lord, now called the Dark One is now considered a tale told to children to frighten them. A young man named Rand Althor and his father Tam Althor are bringing a delivery of cider and brandy for the winter festival at their home, a small town called The Two Rivers. Rand spots a strange man wearing all black with a hood that makes it impossible to see his face watching them from a distance. When he tells his father, the man has suddenly disappeared.
When they arrive at the town, we are introduced to Rand’s friends Mat and Perrin, as well as Rand’s kind-of girlfriend, Egwene, and the village “wisdom”, Nynaeve, who is basically a doctor. Mat and Perrin tell him that they both also saw the hooded man, and that some of the adults have begun talking about it. They also tell him about a rich-looking young woman and her bodyguard who have also appeared, and are staying at the town bar. He is told about news that there is a man pretending to be the reincarnation of The Dragon, and he is pillaging towns. In this time, people only remember that the dragon killed himself in a way that caused earthquakes and floods, and they think he was evil and tried to help the Dark One. It is also revealed that the Dark One only tainted the male half of the One Power, so only men go insane from using the power.
As Rand and his father prepare to eat that night, their door is busted down by a group of half human, half animal monsters called Trollocs. They are wearing black chainmail and leather and carry large curved swords and spiked axes. Rand’s father fights them and kills them all, but is poisoned by a cut from one of their blades. Rand rushes his father to the town center looking for aid, and the woman with the bodyguard (her name is Moraine) reveals that she is a member of the Aes-Sedai an all female group of people that channel the one power to use it like magic.
She heals Rand’s father and tells the village why she came. Apparently she has been tracking something called Ta’veren: people who can shape the pattern of time. They can pull people to them, without even knowing, and if the Dark One got his hands on them, he could use them too . Rand Mat and Perrin are all Ta’veren, and that’s why the Trollocs came: to kidnap them. She also tells Egwene and Nynaeve that they have huge potential for channeling the one power, and she can teach them. They all decide to go with her, and set off to help stop the Dark One from succeeding.
The best part of the “Wheel of Time” books is the amount of detail put into the world building and characters. There are many recurring characters who start off with small roles, and become important over time. Almost every character gets fleshed out, and has some kind of development. Enemies can become friends and friends can become enemies, you never know who might become important or end up getting killed. Unless they are one of the extremely important characters, anything can happen to them.
This is done by a really interesting narrative device that I personally really like. Pretty often the point of view will change to a different character. You start out seeing things from Rand’s view, but as the book goes on, it changes to Mat’s, Perrin’s, and sometimes Moraine’s. In the later books, you see the POVs of Egwene, Nynaeve, Thom, Moraine’s bodyguard Lan, and many more characters, including multiple villains. When reading from somebody’s POV you can hear their thoughts, and gain insight as to who they are, what they believe, and why they do what they do. Each character’s thoughts sound different, to an extent that you can sometimes tell who is thinking just by how they sound.
This really helps to flesh out every character, and even makes the villains understandable. I think it makes the books way better than they would have been if they didn’t change points of view. They also have a large amount of world building, with each kingdom they are in having different laws, styles of clothing, and traditions. I think that one part that was very interesting is that even though most kingdoms have the same language, they have not been speaking the same language forever, so every kingdom has a distinct accent. If you read for long enough, you can tell where somebody is from just based off of what their accent sounds like.
Overall, I would recommend these books to anybody, even if they don’t love fantasy. They should be drawn in by the amazing characters, extensive world building, and engaging plot. The only flaws I can think of is that at some points the story is really complicated, and you might need to pay attention to understand everything that is happening, and a few of the occurrences later in the books don’t make a ton of sense but those can be explained by Ta’veren. Overall, however, these books are amazing, and I really think almost everybody can enjoy them.