The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan

Curious about Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series, I decided to read the first volume, The Eye of the World, which Jordan published in 1990. Twenty-one years after the publication of this first volume, The Wheel of Time is still not complete, the author having died in 2007 after publishing eleven volumes. Brandon Sanderson is completing the series, and two of the three remaining volumes are out, with the last scheduled for 2012.

Reviewers of The Eye of the World often cited Jordan as being a modern Tolkien. Jordan was hailed as having created a complex and realistic world that, for once, also contained strong women characters.

I am not as impressed. The first volume begins in a small village and follows several characters as they make their way to the Big City while they battle evil in a world suffused with magic. The women are certainly strong-willed and powerful, which is a great improvement over Tolkien, but the central character is a dim-witted, untutored, uncultured, unsophisticated young male. The magic is haphazard and often illogical; two of the characters are so powerful that the author never generates any doubt in the reader’s mind that they will prevail.

The Eye of the World suffers when contrasted with George R. R. Martin’s 1996 book A Game of Thrones, the first volume of his A Song of Ice and Fire series (also incomplete). Martin’s book contains richly drawn characters and a complex story that dwarf Jordan’s effort. I am currently reading the second volume of Martin’s series, but I don’t plan to read any more volumes of The Wheel of Time.

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