“The Wheel of Time turns…” With the upcoming television series for The Wheel of Time rolling forward, a re-read of the book series is in order! For the both long time fans of the series and those new to the world of Robert Jordan, the first step will be book one, The Eye of the World.
Robert Jordan began writing the first part in his epic The Wheel of Time book series in 1990. There are 16 books in the entire Wheel of Time series. The first book is The Eye of the World, and it’s very large—a total of 814 pages and a prologue. The prologue might not make much sense to the first time reader, but it will become very important as the series progresses.
The prologue, “Dragonmount”, sets the scene during the Age of Legends, which is many thousands of years before the events of The Eye of the World. It tells the story of the commander Lews Therin Telamon (aka The Dragon), who guides the forces of the Light against the forces of Darkness, led by Shai’tan (aka the Dark One). In the Age of Legends men could “channel,” or use magic. There is a force in the Wheel of Time universe called the One Power. It is made of two parts, the male saidin and the female saidar. The two halves are the forces that men and women can use to perform magic. The two sides can work with each or, or against each other, thus pushing and pulling to turn the Wheel of Time.
In the Age of Legends men could access saidin, which is the male part of the One Power. But in the climactic battle, The Dark One tainted the male aspect of the One Power, leading men to go mad should they use it.
As a result of using too much saidin, Lews Therin goes mad and murders his family. Lews Therin is able to imprison the Dark One, but it cost him everything. Once one of the Dark One’s followers, Ishamael, returns Lews Therin’s sanity, and he realizes what he has done, Therin essentially kills himself using the One Power, and thus creates the mountain named Dragonmount.
This will all become important, and much more clear, as the series develops. It is good to make a note of the brief background of ‘The Dragon’, as that is the person/character the series revolves around. In fact, it may be that the Dragon could be considered the “Eye of the World’.
Once the book begins from the prologue, it centers of the area of the Two Rivers, and specifically the town of Emond’s Field. This is where the main characters (well, the characters that start the story) reside. Here is a closer look at the introduction of the main characters of The Eye of the World.
Moiraine Damodred & al’Lan Mandragoran
Moiraine is an Aes Sedai (a female wizard, essentially) and Lan is her bonded Warder. The two characters arrive in Emond’s Field just before the trolloc attack. The townsfolk do not know that Moiraine is an Aes Sedai, although some suspect her to be so. At this point in the series, Aes Sedai are something to be wary of, if not feared altogether. Lan is her constant companion and fights for her, but they are not a couple. Moiraine knows that dark forces are out to kill some men in Emond’s Field, but she is not yet sure which young men are targeted. And so the story of The Eye of the World begins.
The very first character introduction in The Eye of the World is Rand al’Thor and his father, Tam, who live on a farm outside of Emond’s Field. Rand’s mother had passed away when Rand was born, and so it is just the two men taking care of the farm. Rand is a thoughtful, well-behaved man (although probably just a teen at this point). He is helpful and dutiful.
Rand stands apart from the other villagers of Emond’s Field. Described as tall, with dark red hair and gray eyes, he looks nothing like his friends. Probably in his late teens, Rand is somewhat shy around girls, especially Egwene al’Vere, who could be called his expected wife. Although not betrothed, Rand and Egwene are thought to be a good match, thus Emond’s Fielders think the two should get married. And before Moiraine shows up, that’s all Rand can think of as well. He has no appetite for adventure outside of the Two Rivers area (unlike Egwene). But as soon as Trollocs attack Tam and Rand’s home, and Rand learns he could be the cause of the attack, he starts to think of leaving Emond’s Field. Rand will become much, much more important as the series goes on. He could be considered the main protagonist of The Eye of the World.
The Trickster he might be called. Or, by most, just Mat. He is of the same age as Rand and Perrin, Mat is the village rapscallion. He is described as thin and tall, with brown hair and a rougish look. At this time in the story, Mat isn’t much of a fighter, but is always up for an adventure. He frequently questions authority, and could be called lazy. This will all change as the Wheel turns.
Perrin is the third young man that flees Emond’s Field with Moiraine and Lan. Perrin is stocky yet tall and muscular, has he was the town’s apprentice blacksmith. Perrin is often quiet, but never one to shrink from his responsibilities or to do what is right. As the series develops, Perrin will continually be a source of assistance for Rand, and always have his back.
Egwene is the town innskeeper’s daughter, and has a strong passion for adventure. Egwene is beautiful, with large brown eyes and long brown hair, and is about the same age as the three men protagonists. In fact, it is assumed by the townsfolk that she and Rand would marry some day. This is not to be however. Egwene finds the young men fleeing with Moiraine and Lan, and decides to follow them. Little does she know her life is about to dramatically change.
As the village Wisdom Nynaeve is tasked with taking care of issues and administering aid to anyone that needs help. She also leads the Women’s Circle (much like the village council, but with women only). Nynaeve is hard-headed and strong willed, as well as intelligent and pragmatic. She is older than the main group of Emond’s Fielders, but looks younger due to her abilities to channel. She has dark eyes and usually wears her dark hair in a long braid (which she often tugs on in exasperation). Nynaeve is determined to get the group back to Emond’s Field, but that is not in the cards. Nynaeve will get more involved with the group as The Eye of the World progresses.
Thom is a wandering gleeman who happened to stop in Emond’s Field, just before the town was attacked. He is described as an older gentleman, with white hair and long white mustaches. Thom is often said to be spry, and is good in a fight. At this point in the book not much is known about Thom’s background, but that will come as the story progresses.
Chapter 15 of The Eye of the World introduces the evil being that will track Rand, Mat, and Perrin thought the entire series: Ba’alzamon. He comes to Rand (and Mat and Perrin) in his dreams. He says he is the Dark One, the Father of Lies, and that Rand should bow down and serve him. Ba’alzamon cuts a striking figure, dark and forbidding, with fire for eyes and mouth. While imposing, this will not be the only (far from it actually) villain that Rand will face. Ba’alzamon is one of the Forsaken—a cadre of humans-turned-demigods that cause immense trouble for Rand and his friends.
“There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.”
As the group is pursued by evil forces, they make for the Aes Sedai city of Tar Valon. Thus the beginning of The Eye of the World is set. Now the travelers will come to experience new threats, new cities, and new companions.
What did you enjoy about the first part of book? Which characters do you like? Confused on anything? More answers will be coming! The Wheel of Time series has a lot of great character development, world building, and crisp plot.
Keep reading for more adventure! A summary of the next 15 chapters of The Eye of the World will be coming soon on RetroZap.com!
Courtney Martin is a graduate of Indiana University and works in publishing. She’s an avid Star Wars fan and wrote the recipe blog Courtney Cooks Star Wars on suvudu.com. When not enveloped a science fiction or fantasy novel, she is watching television with her husband and son, doing crossword puzzles, or playing with her Shih Tzu, Burt.