My rating: ★★★☆☆
Read From: 8 April 2014 - 18 April 2014
I’ve been thinking about reading this book—this series—for a couple of years now. Robert Jordan crafted one massive story, told through fourteen books. It’s a singular achievement, as both a creative and commercial success. I’ve never read it, but I’ve been increasingly curious about it. Now I’ve read it and I am disappointed.
The story opens in the small, rural, village of the Two Rivers. Rand, along with his friends Perrin and Mat, is preparing for the spring festival of Bel Tine. That night, Rand’s farm is attacked by a horde of Trollocs, led by a shadowman, a Myrddraal. Rand and his friends learn that the attack is focused on the three of them and, in order to keep their families and friends safe, they’ll need to flee the Two Rivers.
The rest of the story details their flight north, through towns and cities, running from ancient evils, visiting ancient, long forgotten, dangerous places. Along the way, they learn more about the outside world than they ever dreamed, experience more, and change in ways they never would have imagined.
It’s not so much that the story is bad. It’s that the story felt derivative of The Lord of the Rings. The Two Rivers feels like the Shire. At the beginning of the story, everyone in the village is anticipating the arrival of a gleeman, to perform songs and stories, and a delivery of fireworks for a special performance. That felt exactly like Bilbo’s birthday party, with the Shire waiting for the arrival of Gandalf.
The Trollocs looked different than orcs but fulfilled exactly the same role in the story. The fades (the shadowman or the Myddraal) evoked the same fear and played the same role as the Ringwraiths did. The race through the countryside felt the same as the race toward Rivendell and Weathertop.
When we did finally get to the climax, the boss battle was over incredibly quickly. It felt like we had a massive buildup and then, suddenly, it was over. Rand won, the enemy lost. Just like that. I felt cheated out of a dramatic ending.
The worst part was that The Eye of the World failed the most crucial test for the first book in a series: it didn’t make me feel need to read more. I keep feeling like I should read the next book, out of a sense of duty and commitment. But I don’t feel like I have to read it or that I’ll regret it if I don’t.
This book, this series, has legions of fan. After reading it, I discovered that I’m not one of them.