The Eye of the World, I loved you, I hated you. I liked that you were an expansive and interesting fantasy world. An entire world I could let myself sink into and let it all wash over me. But you were too long and unfocused. You had no idea how to take advantage of your world with its interesting mythology and long, long history. Unlike New Spring, you weren’t just about two characters but for all the characters you had, you didn’t develop any of them. They had no depth. Rand, our main protagonist, would have been more aptly named Bland. Moiraine, such a cool character in the prequel book, has about one cool moment per one hundred pages.
I was worried before I started to read you. I was worried you would be too big of a book (you’re over 800 pages if you include the glossary). It wasn’t very encouraging to know that you’re the first book in a series of fourteen equally big, and sometimes bigger, books and that’s not including New Spring. Your size, ambition, and epic scope demanded I gave you all of my attention for weeks. If I’m ever to read the entire series, I’m certain it’ll take me years. That’s a big commitment for a reader and what if I'm not ready for it and what if you’re not worth it?
I decided to give in. I’ve already read New Spring. I opened my arms and invited your story to wash over me like the constantly rolling waves of the ocean. That’s the kind of fantasy you are. The depth of your writer’s imagination is impressive but unfortunately his prose isn't. Like the Wheel of Time, phrases, characters’ observations, motifs, foreshadowing, all of these things kept coming back. I feel like I’ve read the book dozens of times. The writing prevented me from being overwhelmed by the world of The Eye of the World because Jordan took it too slowly. I don’t even know what your world is called! You made a conscious effort to ease me into the story, so much so that your first 150 pages are near identical to the first part of The Lord of the Rings. Like the waves of the ocean, you kept pushing me back to shore and asking that I try to swim out again and again.
Despite being endlessly frustrating for your repetitiveness and your unnecessary length, I liked various things about you. Moiraine and Lan were extremely cool. There were wolves, a talking tree man, magic and even more magic, Trollocs, Myrdraals, villages being attacked, chases through the woods, ancient rivers with powerful currents, ships, gypsy-like tribes, an evil lord, old Forsaken wielders of magic, cursed ruins, an evil dagger, and more. But you made it all boring by dragging it out! I wanted to like you, I wanted to discover that you’re the best fantasy book I’ve read in years and that I was wrong to have pushed you aside for so many years while I watched my father get excited every time a new volume was being released.
Is this simply not meant to be? You’re such a long book there must be something for everybody to enjoy. I found plenty to like about you but for every one thing I liked, there was at least one other thing I disliked. More importantly you were dry, you were boring and you didn’t fulfill the promise others made on your behalf by recommending you over and over. The overwhelming praise was a lie.
There is some good news though. I’m willing to give you another chance. It’s harsh to judge such a large series on just two books. I hope Jordan can trim some of the storytelling fat. I hope the tiny bit of momentum you built in the first 50-something chapters doesn’t fade away at the beginning of the second novel because that’s about one of the only things keeping me interested in you and your series. I already started to read and I’m going to continue to do so until I run off of momentum. Here’s hoping The Great Hunt, the second book, won’t bore me to death and Bland and his traveling companions start to do something. Before I go, I want to say thank you for the Ogier. Loial was far cooler than I expected and I can’t wait to see him do something badass. Thanks also for Moiraine who I could use more of and Lan who’s as interesting as he is stoic. You had some good qualities, The Eye of the World, but not enough to truly satisfy. Thanks for the long and unnecessary detours to what could have been a riveting and mind-blowing introductory chapter into what is, surprisingly, considered one of the best fantasy series of all times. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. I’ll be posting a more typical review of The Great Hunt in the weeks to come.