Robert Jordan,
The Wheel of Time, Book 1:
The Eye of the World

(Tor, 1990)

When considering the great imaginary lands that have emerged from our fabulous legacy of storytellers -- Bradley's Darkover, McCaffrey's Pern, Tolkien's Middle-Earth, More's Utopia, Lewis's Narnia and all the rest -- Robert Jordan's World on the Wheel of Time must be there as well.

The Eye of the World, the first book of this substantial series, introduces characters and concepts that, while familiar in all the fun ways without being derivative or mundane, never fail to amuse, amaze or even affright.

Working with the elements of the great hero story, Jordan tells of a grand journey with lots of adventure along the way, experienced by a set of characters to whom everyone can relate. Jordan is a born storyteller and handily develops memorable characters, including the homebody Loial (an all-too-human nonhuman Ogier), whose intellectual curiosity drives him to adventure.

This is the story of magical science (or, perhaps, scientific magic) gone disastrously wrong and the resulting implications for not only people, but environments as well. This is a long, leisurely, but compelling read, a delectably well-written reworking of the great archetypes.

by Stephen Richmond
8 April 2006

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