Friday, July 30, 2010

Book Review: The Wheel of Time

Review of "The Eye of the World" by Robert Jordan, Book One of the Wheel of Time

As a first-time reader of this series, I think I can sum up Eye of the World thus: Our heroes travel. They do a lot of traveling in this book. This turned me off a little bit, but only slightly.

What I loved about this book:

1. Jordan's writing is very accessible. I didn't find it overtly flowery, or too hard to read. I did have to keep a dictionary handy (glad I had the Kindle for it) mostly for rural farm-terms from ancient England.

2. Jordan avoided the 10 page descriptions and focused on moving the story ever-forward and interspersing description along the way. I really felt like I was right there along with our heroes.

3. The imagination, depth, and description of this world was amazing. Jordan really fleshed out the world by giving women the ability to wield magic, yet still keeping them in a typical fantasy setting where women rule the house while men do the plowing. I really liked this dynamic.

4. His women were strong, yet feminine. They thought for themselves yet still seemed accessible and vulnerable when it came to love. As a man I thought it worked. Some women may not agree :-)

I marked this down one star for three main reasons:

1. There were a lot of names at the beginning. First and last names, used interchangeably, along with titles thrown into the dialogue. It caused some confusion for me in the first few chapters, but once the core party was thrown together I settled in and could keep everything straight.

2. Sometimes he needed to describe things a little better. There were some things that he glanced over that I found myself turning back a chapter later to re-read (hard on a Kindle) because I didn't realize he was giving me an important piece of information mixed into a long dialogue. Perhaps this could have been fixed by having one of the characters ask for a retelling in the story.

3. Deus Ex Machina. The ending seemed a little too easy. I won't spoil it, but all the lead up for the main character seemed anti-climactic and I just didn't buy what he did. It seemed to come out of left field. Perhaps a few more chances for the reader to see foreshadowing of how the main character accomplished what he did.

Overall it was a great book. I'm a fan of epic fantasy and certainly will read the rest of the series barring major issues with the works.

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