Group Read of Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series - (1) The Eye of the World

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Group Read of Robert Jordan's 'Wheel of Time' series - (1) The Eye of the World

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Edited: Feb 5, 2019, 1:23am

The Eye of the World is the first book in what was originally intended as a trilogy and turned into a 14 book (plus) series. It was first published in January 1990 and later also released as a duology as From the Two Rivers and To the Blight.


This is a relaxed group read; read at your own pace and comment as you go. Please use the spoiler tags as necessary and comment in the relevant thread for individual books (which I will set up soon!) so as not to spoil it for those reading at a more leisurely pace.

Link back to main thread:

Link to New Spring thread:

Link to The Great Hunt thread:

Link to the index for the Tor reading in 2018/ 2019/ ....:

Link to the 2018 Tor reading of the series (book 1): Chapters 1 - 9:
... and continue on from there.

My Orbit edition has a glossary (with pronunciation guide) at the back, which can also be found here:

Edited: Jan 23, 2019, 11:29pm


Edited: Jan 23, 2019, 11:28pm

Two Rivers

Edited: Jan 24, 2019, 1:35am

The Blight

Jan 24, 2019, 8:35am

I'm picking up my copy at the library in the next day or so!

Edited: Jan 24, 2019, 9:29am

I'm here! I'm continuing with the Realm of the Elderlings series - but I think I'm only reading 4 of those this year, unless I can't help myself! I've also got the Donna Leon series, but I'll probably start this one sometime in the next couple of weeks.

My Kindle edition cover

Jan 24, 2019, 9:01pm

I'm going to attempt to join in this project! The length of the first book made me gulp, but I have it on my Nook, so should be doable.

Karen O.

Jan 25, 2019, 10:00pm

Hi Jim, Robin and Karen! I'm glad we're all along for the ride. I should really make a start soon, too.

Jan 26, 2019, 7:28am

I might join in with the first of these. Never read any of them before, which is a bit of an omission.

Jan 26, 2019, 10:50am

>9 SandDune: Great Rhian! We'd love to have you along.

Jan 28, 2019, 11:28am

I'm up to Chapter 15 - anybody else started yet?

Jan 28, 2019, 2:32pm

>11 drneutron: Not yet. I'm about 30% done with Fool's Errand, so I expect I'll start it a little later this week.

Feb 1, 2019, 12:25pm

Just started last night. I noticed that the symbol that keeps appearing at the end of each chapter looked like the infinity symbol entwined with a wheel, but now I see in the bigger pictures above that it is the Ouroboros twisted into the infinity symbol. Is this the symbol on the ring that Lady Moiraine wears, I wonder?

Feb 1, 2019, 2:08pm

Yeah, I think it is. The symbol gets described at some point.

Feb 2, 2019, 2:34am

I was going to start after I finished Ship of Magic for the 'Realm of the Elderlings' group read, but I find I'm not starting to read anything. Setting up the threads for 'WoT' has got me quite excited about finally finding out what happened, so I think I will start reading The Eye of the World today.

Feb 2, 2019, 2:35am

>11 drneutron: >12 rretzler: Please go ahead and comment whenever you feel like it without waiting for anyone else. If you do feel like something might be a spoiler, you can use the spoiler tags.

Feb 2, 2019, 10:14am

I’m about halfway through and I’ve really been enjoying the commentary on the Tor site. Especially the calling out of references to LOTR and Tolkien’s ideas. Jordan specifically starts the series from a familiar place for most fantasy readers by incorporating allusions to previous works, then plays with those ideas as we go.

I’m also interested to see the prophecies even in this first book and how they connect to later ones. And even noticing that characters who are set up with knowledge don’t necessarily know everything, nor is everything they tell necessarily correct. The series is clearly well plotted out in advance. Well done, Mr Jordan!

Feb 2, 2019, 11:45am

>17 drneutron: I thought the Winespring Water rang a bell; it reminds me of the Brandywine of the Shire.

Edited: Feb 4, 2019, 3:32am

One of the things that I love about this series is the detail. I know a lot of people complained about it, because it slows down the narrative, but for me it adds to the richness. Though we probably don’t see it but the once, the inn’s cat has a name (Scratch) which gives it weight and presence.

And I like the interactions between people.
“Her name is Moiraine,” Ewin said ... “The Wisdom may not like her, but I do.”
“What makes you think Nynaeve dislikes her?” Rand said.
“She asked the Wisdom for directions this morning,” Ewin said, “and called her ‘child.’”
(Funnier once you’ve met Nynaeve.)

Edited: Feb 7, 2019, 2:23pm

So, I finished yesterday and now I'm going to go back and read the commentary on the Tor website - I'd been avoiding it in case there were spoilers. Unfortunately, I did look up a couple of things in my companion book and there was so much detail that I couldn't help but read some of it and ended up getting some spoilers - so now I'm trying to avoid the companion book!

In addition to the LOTR references, I thought I felt the influence of other fantasy literature as well. Of course, there are a ton of Arthurian references - Elayne, Gareth, Morgase, Gawyn, Tigraine, Galad, Merrilin, Artur Paendrag, Nynaeve, even Caemlyn. It seems that many things directly related to Caemlyn (Camelot) are Arthurian. Rand, I think, could be seen as Arthur in some ways. Not just the names are Arthurian - I think there may be some story parallels here too, although I'm not totally well-versed in Arthurian legend.

I also felt there was a little similarity between Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain and The Eye of the World - Rand with unknown parentage adopted, protected and mentored by others and off on a quest to save the world, with the young girl he is attracted to. Although the similarities may be because both series are based on mythology to some extent.

Interestingly, I also thought that Rand's situation could be similar to Star Wars in some ways - adopted/hidden away, protected by those who use the power of nature, leaving home after it is destroyed to help save the world from evil and trying not to be swayed to join that evil side, plus eventually being able to use that power himself to defeat the evil. This hit me especially when Ba'alzamon kept talking about it being Rand's destiny to join with him.

The Aes Sedai reminded me somewhat of the Bene Gesserit in Dune and Rand, perhaps the Kwisatz Haderach.

As far as the book itself, I did like the story, but I found it a little hard to be invested in any one character. I'm not sure if it was because there were so many major characters, whether they weren't necessarily written in a sympathetic way, or whether there wasn't enough time to allow us to know them well enough, but I didn't feel connected to any of them in the way I did, say, Frodo, Gandalf or Aragorn. I also thought the ending was very abrupt and not what we were lead to believe would happen - for the majority of the entire book, the quest was going to Tar Valon and then suddenly the Eye of the World was the destination. Also, all of a sudden, we have 2 forsaken as enemies (where on earth did they come from?) - did Rand really defeat Ba'alzamon? And if the Dark One is truly defeated in Book 1, where does that leave us for the rest of the series?

My thoughts for now - until I finish reading the Tor commentary.

ETA - Caemlyn is indeed Caemlyn in Arthurian legend, not Camelot.

Edited: Feb 7, 2019, 1:30am

>20 rretzler: Yes, I was going to say all the Arthurian names are there (Arthur, Gwenivere, Nimue, Merlin) but not the storyline as we know it. I kept trying to make it fit the first time I read it, but I couldn’t really.

And the farm boy on a quest trope that everyone makes fun of. But I like it :0)

Feb 7, 2019, 8:54am

>20 rretzler:, >21 humouress: The commenter on the TOR site talks a lot in the first post about the breadth of references to other works - Jordan did this specifically, with the purpose of setting us on familiar territory to start the story, then makes it his own. Apparently he talked about this in an interview I haven't yet tracked down. I missed the Dune connection, though! 😀

Feb 7, 2019, 1:13pm

>20 rretzler: I don't mind spoilers, so after reading the prequel (where I started) I did look up Wikipedia articles.
There are similairities with other fantasy books/series, but I think that is inevetable.

I finished The Eye of the World today. I liked the story, did not love it like I love The Lord of the Rings. But then I read LotR for the first time at age 12 (and many times more), books don't make such an impact over 40 years later in life. I hope to read all the books this year, depending on availability at the library, as I don't feel the urge to own these books.

Edited: Feb 7, 2019, 2:58pm

>21 humouress: >22 drneutron: >23 FAMeulstee: I did a little bit of research last night and found a couple of things that might be of interest. The first is Theoryland which, Jim, might help you find the interview with Jordan. There are several interviews referenced with Jordan and one with Sanderson. The references on Theoryland are only excerpts, but I believe they lead to the more in-depth interviews (I'm going to explore more later.) The one with Sanderson was interesting as it seems that he wasn't that enamored of The Eye of the World either.

The second site, I think, is going to have a ton of information and analysis. The Thirteenth Depository: A Wheel of Time Blog looks like it has loads and loads of information. In the little I looked at it, there was a ton of information referencing WoT to Arthurian legend - I think perhaps more specifically than just starting the story. They used for their reference to Arthurian legend Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur, which is a better source than White's The Once and Future King, with which I am more familiar.

I'm reading Paladin of Souls today, and Bujold is a master of having the worst happen to her characters, but having it somehow turn out in the end. I realized that is what is missing for me from The Eye of the World and why I wasn't invested in the characters. Within the first 10% of the book, Bujold has made me care about a minor character because something terrible has happened to him. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but knowing Bujold, I suspect by the end of the book, all will be well. However, because the situation is just about the worst thing that could happen, I'm now invested in this character and want to know more. It doesn't seem to me that Jordan let anything truly terrible happen to any of his characters in EotW with the exception of the Green Man, of course, which happened too late in the story to make me care about him - perhaps this comes in later books. I also read LotR for the first time around the same age, but Tolkien was able to invest me more in the characters, and I think its more than a difference in being 40 years older.

I'm definitely going to read the series, but I don't think I'll be able to keep up with Anita and Jim due to other books I also planned to read this year. I'll probably do it over a stretch of a couple of years.

Feb 7, 2019, 9:31pm

It was taking me longer to get into the story this time because whenever the characters said ‘those are just things out of a gleeman’s story’ I would think ‘wait till you find out what happens’ but now I’m hooked.

I remember being scared for the characters at the beginning of the story (I’m only 10 chapters in now) when I first read it and I think the bleak, wintry setting helped maintain the tension (hah - I’m sure a lot of folks in the US can relate to the unusually cold weather).

Rand, Mat and Perrin must be about 20 years old with Egwene a couple of years younger and Nynaeve a couple of years older. I must have been in my early twenties the first time I read it and, of course, fantasy was a very different landscape in those days. I’m re-reading this with feelings a mix between nostalgia and pragmatism.

One way in which fantasy has changed was that it was traditional to have a trilogy and this book was intended as the first in a trilogy, so I found that a lot of events took place in this book - and then the trilogy became fourteen books.

Feb 7, 2019, 9:32pm

>24 rretzler: No-one can keep up with Anita ;0)

Feb 8, 2019, 1:27pm

>25 humouress: Nina, it does have a nostalgic feel to me as well - don't know if that's the LotR feeling or the fact that it was written in the 90's or something else entirely.

>26 humouress: So true!

Edited: Feb 11, 2019, 4:39pm

>24 rretzler: >26 humouress: >27 rretzler: Not no-one, nearly no-one ;-)
Stasia is still holding the record in this group for number of books read in a year.

I hope to get book 2 from the library tomorrow.

Feb 11, 2019, 8:00pm

Finished this afternoon, enjoyed it immensely!

Edited: Mar 25, 2019, 12:05am

I'm still reading, and then last night I distracted myself with trying to find out more about the upcoming series. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any more information than there was in October last year but I was captivated by a site where people discussed their casting ideas. Oddly, I think I've always seen Thom Merrilin as Sam Elliot (I think it's the white moustaches) but I don't think I've associated any other characters with real people.

Do you have any casting suggestions?

I hope they do stick to the character descriptions, though - there was some discussion about how important that would be. I think it's pretty important. I read A Wrinkle in Time just before seeing the film, so while it wasn't a beloved childhood favourite for me, it did throw me that Meg in the film didn't have read hair and freckles. Of course, I do understand that for practical reasons, they couldn't cast a five year old actor as precocious genius Charles Wallace though I was a bit disappointed that the Targaeryans in the GoT TV series (which my husband is watching yet again) didn't have silver hair or purple eyes.

>25 humouress: I've revised my estimates; I think Rand, Mat and Perrin are about 18, with Egwene 16 and Nynaeve in her very early twenties.

Apr 15, 2019, 9:46am

>30 humouress: Nina, I think I would agree with you about Sam Elliot for Thom. I picture him as a gruff sort of man, so that would fit the picture for me as well. I'm not sure about the others. I also agree that I hope they stick with characters descriptions - it really ruins things for me when they don't, especially since it is so easy to wear a wig or dye one's hair. I think for Rand it is crucial that they stick to the description, although we likely won't get much backstory in the show to understand why that is important. Although I have pictures in my head of what the characters look like, they don't seem to match any current actors/actresses.

>25 humouress: >30 humouress: According to The Wheel of Time Companion, here are the birth years of the characters: Rand, Mat, and Perrin were born in 978 NE, Egwene was born in 981 NE, Nynaeve 974 NE, Moiraine 956 NE, and Lan 953 NE. I believe the present time in the first two books is 998 NE.

Apr 15, 2019, 12:07pm

Thanks for the dates, Robin.

Apr 15, 2019, 12:42pm

>32 humouress: Any idea what the NE is after the dates? I can't seem to find any reference in the companion to what NE means. If it were NA, I would guess New Age, but it's not. There's probably a reference somewhere in the first book - yes, just found it in the glossary - New Era. Seems as though the companion book should have a glossary, too.

Jun 22, 2019, 4:45am

Well, of the thirteen Forsaken, it looks like Aginor and Balthamel are taken care of.

The Arthurian references are deliberate and there are parallels to the legend in the story.
Rand al Thor = Arthur
Egwene al Vere = Gwenivere
Lan = Lancelot of the Lakes
(Feel free to add more.)

I’m sure the name Lews Therin Telamon has some significance but I can’t link it to anything, in my head.

Edited: Jun 25, 2019, 6:10am


The Royal Palace of Caemlyn:

Jun 25, 2019, 6:30am

Edited: Jun 26, 2019, 1:09pm

Since I've finally finished reading The Eye of the World and even reviewed it (for the first time), I thought I'd post my review here:

12) The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

(First of 14: The Wheel of Time series. Fantasy, epic fantasy)

This must be at least my fourth time of reading this book and I have set up a 2019 group read ( in the hopes that I will actually manage to complete the series. I first discovered The Wheel of Time quite early in the series, loved it and started collecting the books for my own shelves. Of course, I soon caught up with Jordan and would wait impatiently for him to release the next book, though it didn't help to find that he knew exactly what the last scene of the whole series would be... and I wanted to know, too! But it was one of those series that I didn't want to end, so I was quite happy when a planned trilogy turned into a long running serial and I didn't mind the extended descriptions of people's clothes.

The trilogy had turned into ten books when we heard the news that Jordan was mortally ill. Thankfully, Brandon Sanderson took up the reins and finished the series - by which time I had forgotten all the storylines. So - with a warning to first time readers to not leave it too long between books - here we go again from the beginning.

The prologue shows us a time long, long past when the world was broken and then the story begins by introducing us to Rand and Tam al'Thor, who are making a delivery to town, walking from their farm through woods that are clinging to winter while they keep a nervous eye out for wolves, which have been more numerous and bold this year.

Jordan evokes a sense of isolation for the town of Emondsfield which lies on the border of civilisation, and the farms which lie beyond it. For all their hardiness, the Emondsfielders are caught off guard by creatures out of legend that attack the town, and we flee with Rand and his companions with our hearts in our mouths, not knowing what unknown dangers we might face, and with only Moiraine Sedai and her taciturn warder, Lan, to guide and guard us. But the legends their mothers told to scare them may lie closer to the truth than they realised, with trollocs - unnatural fusions of man and beast - and Fades - faceless Halfmen who can walk through walls or disappear by turning sideways - hunting them for unknown reasons. And they have dreams which seem more real than when they are awake and which imply that they are very important to the fate of the world.

Although they find friends and allies along the way there is always a sense of threat, of not knowing why they are being hunted and whether they can absolutely trust the people around them. And if they return home, they will carry the danger back to the people they love.

The book ends with a fairly satisfying conclusion, rather than a cliff-hanger - until we read the epilogue, and remember that this book was originally written as the first part of a trilogy.

As others in the group read realised, there are a lot of parallels with many classics of fantasy - innumerable Arthurian references, similarities to Lord of the Rings and so on - which Jordan made intentionally so readers would be familiar with the narrative. (But don't waste time trying to fit the characters to the stories which belong to those with similar names from the Camelot tales because they generally don't bear more than a passing resemblance, in my experience.)

I like the way all the references are tightly local; anyone suspicious is like a Taren Ferry man - Taren Ferry being a day’s journey or so away. Or, since the Coplins are a family of ne’er do wells, any foolish talk is ‘like Coplin talk’. Rand and his friends have explored further than most people they know, but now they go as far as Taren Ferry and much, much further into the unknown world. There is a lot thrown at them - and thereby at us - much of it out of legend, so we discover the outside world along with them.

I like the world building and the small details that are included which flesh it out; though we probably don’t see it but the once, the inn’s cat has a name (Scratch) which gives it weight and presence. And I like the interactions between people.
“Her name is Moiraine,” Ewin said ... “The Wisdom may not like her, but I do.”
“What makes you think Nynaeve dislikes her?” Rand said.
“She asked the Wisdom for directions this morning,” Ewin said, “and called her ‘child.’”

(Funnier once you’ve met Nynaeve.)

I thought the ending was a bit rushed but, as I said before, it was planned as the first book of a trilogy. This book was first published in 1990 at a time when most fantasy books were limited to around 250 pages and series were usually trilogies; this one runs to almost 800 pages but it is dense and rich and very well worth reading. It builds and holds the tension and even though I have read it so many times before, I found myself sitting up anxiously.

5 stars