I’m finally doing what I always say I’ll do, going back and reviewing earlier books in a series.
I’ve read this book three or four times, each time when re-starting the series again. I’ve never gotten beyond book seven or eight before getting frustrated but I swear to God this time I’ll finish it.
The Wheel of Time series, which this book started, is possibly the most famous fantasy series in recent memory.
Fair warning from the outset, if you haven’t read it:
1) DETAIL. Have you ever read Tolstoy? Jordan has a similar commitment to detail.
2) Insane cast of characters. Do you read the Game of Thrones books? We’re talking a similar number of characters.
3) They WILL drop characters for chapters….books…and then come back to them. If you have a favorite character, hold on, because you might not see them for the better part of 1000 pages.
Ok. If you’re still prepared to move forward, here’s the lowdown on the first book.
Emond’s Field is a tiny farming village in the hills, far from any city or town of reasonable size. One day a Aes Sedai–magic worker–comes to town. She singles out three young men: Rand, Mat and Perrin.
That night, Trollocs (yes, very like trolls, as you might have guessed) come and attack the place. She uses her magic to save the town and then leaves, taking the three young men, plus a girl (Egwene) with her. The girl can learn to do magic as well, which is why she’s going.
Turns out all three men are ta’veren, which means they effect fate. Or as the book puts it, they twist the pattern of the world around them. Not intentionally, of course.
At some point they get separated and then bad things start happening.
Perrin, as it turns out, has a rare affinity for wolves and can communicate with them, first in dreams and later while awake.
This leads to trouble as he kills two “Children of the Light” who kill a wolf. The Children are an army and are reminiscent of the Inquisition. They think all Aes Sedai are allied to the Dark One, and they have no issues hanging people for minor offenses.
The Aes Sedai, Moiraine, is taking them to Tar Valon, where the Aes Sedai are headquartered, but they become diverted. They have to pass through a town cursed by the Shadow, the Shadow being “evil” or a close approximation. While there, Mat picks up a dagger which is evil and which begins to turn him evil. Not ideal.
Along the way they also pick up another girl from Emond’s Field, Nyneave, who eventually comes along with Egwene to become Aes Sedai.
Eventually, they make their way to the far north, the Borderlands, the place where the Shadow originates and meets the world of regular people. They’re searching for the Green Man, a man made of forest and plants, who guards the Eye of the World.
They’ve heard from several sources that there is a threat to the Eye of the World. When they get there, the Eye turns out to be a pool of pure saidin, which is the male half of magic power.
Thousands of years ago men could use the power just as easily as women, but the evil corrupted it and now any man who uses the power eventually goes insane, usually taking out others in his insanity. As a result, an entire section of the Aes Sedai is dedicated to finding those men and severing them from the ability to channel the power.
Anyway, whilst there they are attacked by two Forsaken, high ranking evil people from the last great age who have been in a sort of hibernation for thousands of years. In the attack, Rand manages to use the pool of saidin to defeat them, which tells us that he can use the power and will eventually go insane.
It also fulfills a prophecy, which means that he’s the Dragon Reborn, the reincarnation of the hero that defeated the evil one thousands of years ago and who much do so again if the world is to be saved.
This post is twice as long as a usual one and I’ve left out SO MUCH. This is what I’m talking about with these books.
The later books get wonky, I’m not going to pretend they don’t, but this one is good.