The Eye of the World Read Along Part I

eyeoftheworldbannerWelcome everyone to the fun of dissecting Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World, Book 1 of The Wheel of Time series. Anya of On Starships and Dragonwings and I here at Dab of Darkness will be hosting back and forth. It’s great that so many of you signed up to enjoy with us. If anyone else would like to join in receiving the blog post questions a few days early so you can prepare a blog post, you can sign up at the form over HERE.

Below are this week’s questions, along with my answers. Just a reminder, we will be skipping next week due to the numerous winter holidays going on and returning the week after. Schedule in detail is over HERE.

Waffles in a rare serious mood.
Waffles in a rare serious mood.

Again, this week’s post covers the prologue through the end of Chapter 7.

1) The prologue is a pretty bleak and dark place. Then we enter Two Rivers and meet the young folk, mostly farmers. Do you think these two very different scenes show the bookends of the spectrum we can expect for the book?

Even though I read this book several years ago (pushing 2 decades), I don’t remember much of it. The bleakness and loss described in the prologue tho – really, can we get much worse than that? And so far there hasn’t been any cussing or particularly bloody violence, even as dire the circumstances as captured in the prologue. And I can’t really imagine things any mellower than the initial few chapters in Two Rivers. So, yeah, I think the prologue and first few chapters capture the spectrum of the book.

2) Overall are you enjoying the level of description and the portent telling (the crow, the black-robed man on horseback, etc.)?

I do enjoy my epic fiction descriptive. I know it’s not for everyone, but when I want detail, I really want it. And I enjoy portents as long as they are explained later in the story, and not just simply due to some psychic connection to the universe. I like it to be small things hindsight 20/20 makes reasonably clear.

3) What do you think the story is for Rand and Egwene up to this point?

These two are so awkward around each other that either there has been zero kissing or a very odd first kiss. I also suspect they have known each other their whole lives and at some point she lit his hair on fire and he tricked her into climbing into a well and left her there for a few hours, or some such nonsense.

4) The story takes a most serious turn once the trollocs attack the al’Thor farmstead. It also raises plenty of questions about Tam’s past. Care to guess on what some of that past is?

Oooo! So far, the most tantalizing bits are about Tam’s past. I would really love to hear his story at some point. I wonder if he was a traveling merchant, or a mercenary, or happened to be in an odd place at the wrong time and was pressed into the service of some noble for the war. I hope we get to hear more of it as the story goes on.

5) Chapter 7 leaves us with many questions, like Rand has many questions: Why trollocs? What was his father going on about in his fever? Who are Moraine and Lan and why are they really in Two Rivers? Will Tam survive? Which of these (or other) questions are you most anxious to see answered in the coming chapters?

The larger question I am more interested in is why the trollocs in Two Rivers. It is obvious they are looking for something or someone specific, but for what purpose I don’t recall from my reading all those years ago. I also forgot why Moraine and Lan had traveled so far afield and I look forward to learning (or relearning) about their quest.

Other Tidbits:

The world building seems to draw on a variety of European lore – Beltyne, Shaitan, al’Thor. I find this interesting, but the jury is still out on whether or not it works for me.

Some of the trollocs had hooves, some feathers, some more human than others. Disturbing. Yet the biologist in me wants to know how the variety of mishmashes was done. Yet it is probably unlikely I will get an explanation on this any time soon.

Looking forward to your comments. If you created a blog post, make sure to fill out the Mr. Linky below so we all get a chance to stop by. If for some reason the Linky isn’t working, just leave a comment with your blog name and link to your post and I’ll manually make a list throughout that day.

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1) On Starships and Dragonwings
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14 thoughts on “The Eye of the World Read Along Part I”

  1. I agree that the bits about Tam’s past are the most tantalizing. And don’t worry–the portents will be explained. It may take a long while, but we’ll get there, and because it takes awhile, it makes the explanations very powerful. Thanks for hosting this! I’m so happy to have an excuse to read it again. It’s like my favorite fantasy series of all time! 😀

    1. I’m glad that you are able to join us. This is one of those epic series I just haven’t gotten around to and I really look forward to seeing how Sanderson ended it. I am glad to hear that the portents fully tie in, as that is a piece that makes epic fantasies so enjoyable.

    2. I have to add my thanks about hosting this crazy adventure: I was trying to decide whether or not to attempt it and this convinced me! 🙂

      I had previously read up to book 6 or 7 (I think) but it is at least 10 years ago and my memory is beginning to fail with old age now, so I can’t remember as much as I would like! 😀

  2. I agree, I completely love portents, as long as they are explained. Extra points if they are explained subtly enough that I feel smart for understanding, but obvious enough that I actually get it xD

    Oo, I like those ideas about Tam’s past, I hadn’t thought about him being pressed into service or something like that…. That’s a great idea! I’m also wondering when he met his wife relative to finding the baby and the fighting etc. It’s going to be awesome 😀

    The Trollocs have a lot of potential to have really creepy origins, but I agree that we probably won’t find out any time soon! But I really hope we do get at least some idea eventually, since it’s a good way to make the bad guys badder ;-).

    1. I am also looking forward to the bad guys becoming more substantive, which always makes the story more real for me. Finding out who makes and how they make trollocs would be a piece of that.

      1. I agree: ghost and ghouls are scary, but real flesh and blood creatures can be much more threatening, especially if they are created in a truly horrible and twisted way. I am thinking here about the kolos in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series: finding out what they are makes them so much more horrific.

    2. I agree: portents are a great way of building suspense and then making me feel clever for spotting them! 😀

      I just hope that we do learn more about Tam’s past, as I would hate to have a lot of these important questions left unanswered . . . I just can’t remember when the answers appear, so it might not be any time soon . . .

      The Trollocs seem very orcish to me, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a similarly bizarre origin, though I agree with nrlymrtl that my inner biologist protests a little at their randomness! 😀

      1. I might have to do a Tolkien – Jordan comparison later on, just to get it out there and out of my system. My man says to think of it as an homage to Tolkien (he really, really likes this series).

        Crossing men and goats – not so weird, as the genomes allow for embryos, but the outcomes are always stillbirths. So, it’s not such a leap to throw in some questionable ‘magic’ and get trollocs. It’s the ones with feathers that I really wonder about!

  3. I like your comment about the lack of blood and guts or bad language, which I think is a reflection of the time when the book was originally written: good grief, that makes me feel old! It also gives us a feeling of a gentler, more polite society, as we can see by the way that Rand and his friends use titles to address their elders and how everyone is scandalized by Nynaeve’s youth.

    I really like the way that Rand and Egwene interact with each other. It is obvious that they grew up together, but as their hormones have started raging they can no longer relate to one another like they used to. This seems like such a familiar aspect of growing up that it makes the characters so much more relatable and real. I love your ideas about them when they were younger, although they sound much more like tricks that Mat would play! 😀

    I like the fact that the world is not built around one familiar mythology. Later in the series we encounter more societies that are based on Far Eastern cultures and those of the African or Arabian deserts (as far as I remember), which helps to give a sense of the scale of the world we are exploring. Although we are firmly in a Medieval European setting at the moment, it feels good that we are not mirroring one culture too strongly because that would make things too predictable.

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