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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Eye of the World: Book One of the Wheel of Time » User review

A fun read that suffers from major Tolkien envy

  • Apr 17, 2013
Upon finishing Gorge RR Martins "A Song of Ice and Fire" a friend recommended that I read one of the all-time classics of the fantasy genera, The Wheel of Time. Upon reading up on the series, and looking up the reviews for the first book, I was very much intrigued. By all accounts it seemed to take what were obviously omissions in the world Tolkien created and create a world that focused on these topics (such as industry, farming, technology, etc) to a much greater degree. However, upon reading the first book I can't help but think that Robert Jordan just copied and pasted the first half of the Fellowship of the Ring and transplanted that into the first quarter of The Eye of the World. Though written in a unique style and very well paced, this book and Fellowship read eerily similar for about the first quarter. Let me elaborate.

Rand (Frodo) is a simple farm boy living in an isolated town of Edmond's Field (Hobbiton) in an isolated region known as the Two Rivers (The Shire) far away from the troubles of the world. While the forces of the Dark Lord do battle with the kingdoms of earth far away, in Edmonds field it is a time to celebrate the coming of spring with a huge party, very reminiscent of the birthday thrown for Bilbo Baggins. But the party is cut short as the town comes under attack by legions of Trollocs (Orcs on steroids)  led by... God, really? Ringwraiths? He had to steal the Ringwraiths too? Okay, they're called Fades here, but seriously except for them being ten times weaker and 100 times less menacing, these Fades might as well be Ringwraiths. They even suffer from a fear of water, good God did Jordan not think we would put two and two together? Even the ferry scene from Fellowship is in this book.

Lets play spot the difference. There are eight differences in these pictures, can you spot them all?



Needless to say, as a huge Lord of the Rings fan, I wasn't  too fond of seeing Tolkiens work in Jordans story. The first quarter of this book is a re-hash of plots and themes from Fellowship. It’s not until the party gets separated in Moria (I'm sorry, Shadar Logoth) that this story really comes into its own. From that point the Lord of the Rings clone disappears, and a uniquely fun story starts to take its place. It’s during this time, when the members of the "Fellowship" are forced to survive without the help of the immensely powerful wizard Moiraine and her... Aragon look alike companion Lan, that the real tension starts to build. While in the company of Moiraine and Lan I never felt like the other characters were in any danger, as these two could easily take on hundreds of Trollocs and dozens of Fades without seeming to break a sweat. So when Rand and his best friend Mat encounter Darkfriends (servants of the Dark Lord) on their own there was real tension there.

Time for another game of spot the difference. Jordan makes it too easy.


Before you start thinking I didn't like the book, let me says this. The Eye of the World is an extremely well written, well-paced tale with mostly good characters, a few really impressive moments, and a massive world that I'm dying to learn more about in the next…  dear god, TWELVE books? And I was complaining that Martins series goes on forever, seems I'm in for the long hall in this one. The male characters are all written very well and likable. They written more in the Tolkien style without being straight up copies (mostly) as opposed to the way Martin writes. Rand is your typical young "chosen one" who has responsibility thrust upon him he doesn't want or understand, and yet must rise to meet the challenges of, what else, saving the world. It’s not terribly original, but it is done very well which makes up for that. Mat and Perrin, his best friends, are also important but in what way will only be make clear in the following books. Mat is a smart ass, always playing tricks on people, never taking anything really seriously, and for this everyone seems to underestimate him. In a pinch though, Mat can be just as strong as any of the others. I think he was my favorite character overall as his humor and light hardheartedness gave me a welcome break from the dark and dreary of the rest of the story. Perrin, likewise is very likable, and plays as a counterweight to Mat's playfulness. Always stern and serious, Perrin serves as the voice of reason for the Edmond Fielders throughout the series. Overall, yes, I really liked the male characters.

But wait, the male characters? Aren't there any female characters here? Well yes, very prominent ones in fact, the problem is that almost every single one of them is a real bitch. I don't know if Jordan doesn't like women, or doesn't get women, or styled all the women in this book after one he knew in real life, but they all have that snotty "I'm better and smarter then you" attitude towards their male counterparts. They are self-righteous, arrogant, snobby little wenches and I couldn't stand a one of them. On occasion we'll get  a glimpse of weakness from them or a break from the arrogance they are always excreting, but it’s not nearly enough to make up for just how unlikeable they are. And don't tell me I didn't like them because they didn't fall into set gender roles, or because they are strong women in a genera dominated by men. Don't give me that nonsense. No, it’s because they are badly written characters, and that's it.

I think this look says it all.

Overall Jordan has a very good story going here with strong male characters, an engrossing world, and a style that drew me in very quickly and made me feel right at home. I very much enjoyed reading most parts of this book despite my criticisms, and though I don't think this is anywhere near the level of consistent quality I receive from Tolkien or Martin, it is still a fine read and I look forward to reading more.

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More The Eye of the World: Book One... reviews
review by . July 03, 2010
I was browsing through a shop that sold previously-owned books when a slim paperback entitled: "From The Two Rivers" by Robert Jordan caught my eye.  Perfect!  A short  but hopefully entertaining read.        The joke was on me.  Little did I know that it was just part one of "The Eye of the World" by the same author, and after finishing it...  you guessed it.  Like Claudia from Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire, …
review by . July 01, 2010
   Brilliant book and a bloody good beginning to my favorite series: The Wheel of Time.  Robert Jordan, like a lone fly fisherman, slowly lures you in knowing the day's light is long and hunger builds as time passes.  The fly, being a single character, pulls at you until you surrender to Jordan's power.  You are released to find another fly.  So different, yet so enticing, and again, you give in, and again, you are released.  The point is, Jordan gives …
Quick Tip by . July 05, 2010
The Eye of the World is a begging of one of the greatest reading experiences you will ever have. Don't let the cover fool you, this is the definition of a must read.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
This was such a great book. It can seem like a lot with all the plot and characters, but it is such a wonderful story that it doesn't matter, and it always draws you in to find out what happens next.
Quick Tip by . July 02, 2010
So, the writing can struggling. There is a lot of detail and description, and too many characters. But that's the beauty. His world is so rich, to complex, and yet its a great plot and he threats every character as a real person- he can keep them alive. Stay with it- it's worth it.
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
Too bad Jordan never lived to finish this series
Quick Tip by . June 16, 2010
there was a point in my life when i was "into" fantasy works... then i read this book and was like, OH WAIT: this is rubbish and a waste of my time. it's not even fun! boo, hiss, i shall never understand you wheel of timers.
About the reviewer
Jonathan J.D. Lane ()
Ranked #118
I am a member of the US Air Force and presently serve overseas at RAF Mildenhall about three hours north of London. I grew up in Pappilion Nebraska and Crestview Florida, but since joining the Air Force … more
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ISBN-10: 0812511816
ISBN-13: 978-0812511819
Author: Robert Jordan
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Fantasy
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