The Eye of the World

I wrote this review in the 1990’s. I didn’t think much of it then …
Robert Jordan, THE EYE OF THE WORLD, (Orbit, 670pp, £7.99 trade.).
The cover illustration shows some characters, armed, and on horseback, and the blurb calls the book ‘A splendid epic of heroic fantasy’.
Inside it’s much as you’d expect of Book One of a fantasy series. The rustic hero, Rand, caught up in events beyond his village, is sought by rising dark forces and hunted by various foulnesses called Trollocs, Darkfriends etc. while a sorceress and Warden aid him and his young companions. Magical power is centred in distinct male and female powers; while the female is still effective the male half is tainted with evil and drives its wielders into madness.
The characterisation is a weak point in this otherwise diligently constructed epic; even after 300,000 words one has little insight into these people. The author tends to label them with single attributes, so that one is ‘obstinate’, another ‘broad-shouldered’, another ‘mischevous’ and so on. Possibly the best inventions in the whole book are the Whitecloaks, a truly sinister bunch of armed religious fanatics and sorcery-haters.
The book is something of a page-turner; but the mechanical plotting is at the same time an irritant; as soon as some trouble is outlined one can be sure that our young heroes will do the most foolhardy thing and fall right into it, and then be rescued by some deus ex machina means. At the end of this volume their immediate problem is overcome with unconvincing ease.
Recommended for fantasy quest addicts and uncritical adolescents only.
(Reviewed by Geoff Cowie)