Author: Robert Jordan
Series: The Wheel of Time #1
Date Published: September 15, 2000 (first published on January 15, 1990)
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
The Wheel of Time turns and Ages come and go, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth returns again. In the Third Age, an Age of Prophecy, the World and Time themselves hang in the balance. What was, what will be, and what is, may yet fall under the Shadow.
Books from The Wheel of Time series often appear in my Goodread's Recommendations. I wasn't interested in reading it until I noticed that on other series that I read, some of my favorite authors would write reviews on those books with a nod to "Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time". Moreover, I've crossed upon references concerning this WoT around the Internet. That made me look at the eBook covers and boy were they so lovely! The drawings are immaculate and I'm a sucker for book covers. The covers blew me away and that did it for me. I grabbed some copies over a year ago.
Only in this series did I feel the rightness of the pressure laid by book lovers toward their favorite authors to finish their book series, if not write more books. The authors feel that weight that many of them would complain too (J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, among others). I could justify that heavy pressure. After all, J.R.R. Tolkien died before finishing The Silmarillon. And now I feel so bad to be introduced to this series knowing that the author died before finishing the last three books of the series. Brandon Sanderson helped "polishing" (if he didn't decide upon the ending entirely by himself, I've yet to do my research) these last three books, which was originally set for two but simply won't just fit. That should settle things but still, it's just different had the books been written by the creator himself. *Le sigh*
I was lamenting on Robert Jordan's premature death even before I had the chance to really digest the first book (I tried to read it many times before I knew of his sudden death). I felt so bad. I was crying inside for hours before I could open the book and finally read. I know I was about to read a great epic and already dreading how it will end. I've read collaborative works by authors and I should be optimistic in thinking that the last three books are just some books written in partnership with another author... but they're not. The author just had an untimely death (a complicated heart disease). Now, I'm looking at you George R.R. Martin. You know your family has a predisposition to death by heart disease, so finish ASOIF asap!
Anyhow, I did open the first book and boy was I carried away (after putting away my initial thoughts). The experience was awesome. It was as if I was taken back to the land of Middle Earth, where I have to leave my simple life from a small village on towards a place far away, and dreadful but great things altogether will happen along the way. That sounds so simple. It was to me at first but the more the story progresses, the more complex things become. Where there was just the thought of adventure in the beginning, suddenly things are lacquered in the mire of politics which makes it all the more fun.
Let's go back to the simple thing: the adventure of traveling. Like in The Lord of the Rings, a gang of kids/young men (probably 16) are trussed up into hot water when they all turned out to be ta’veren (people who have the power to change the world regardless of what they do; more like they bend the world to them). They're in a quest to defeat the very evil force itself.
For a relatively "old" book (published on 1990), I'm surprised that the narration is so simple, simple in a way that Robert Jordan's sentence construction is easily understood by Millenials (albeit you have to grab a dictionary to seek for alternative words of the ones you don't know). The prose is beautiful and direct to the point although still, Jordan describes his world, the setting, people's cultures (especially their clothing) so intricately detailed that I can't help but be reminded by Tolkien's writing style.
The book is just full of details you might consider them as fluff but they're not. Since the characters have to travel an entire continent (so far they have visited places in a straight line; we are yet to see the rest), peoples of different kingdoms are described elaborately. Near the end of the book, you're going to see Shienar with its people that can only be described by my senses as Asians.
Speaking of Asia, I love how the Chinese symbol, yin yang, was used as perhaps the most significant symbol in the series but with Jordan's own twist. Instead of the yang as the bright positive masculine principle, the white was used as a teardrop symbol for the White of Tar Valon (an institution for female magic users). Meanwhile, the yin, the dark negative feminine principle becomes the black for the Dragon Fang (since the male half of the One Power was tainted by the evil one). Let's just say that the strongest kind in this world are magicians and in this book they're called Aes Sedai. The Aes Sedai wields the True Source, the One Power. Just think of the One Power as an omniscient, cognitive, infinite mana source. It's like a god that you can touch and use his energy as you please, if you can wield him.
The Aes Sedais are divided into two, the male and female. Each draws power from two different sources (saidin for male and saidar for female). Three thousand years ago, the male Aes Sedais battled with the evil force and the evil force retaliated by tainting saidin and in effect, the male magic users went nuts and over a period of time, killed thousands in their madness. Because of this, men who are known to touch the True Source are "managed" by the female Aes Sedai.
I love how I'm reminded of the story with the anime Claymore on why only female Claymores (in this case, Aes Sedai) exist. Both stories have their own reasons and I love the plausibility of it regarding their own world-building.
There are just so many things that I can talk about in this book. But alas, I'm tired of typing because I just don't know where I'm going anymore. Let me "almost finish" this by telling you who the three main characters are. They are of course, the tave'ren in the series, starting with the first chapter in the series, Rand al'Thor and his closest friends, Mat Cauthon and Perrin Aybara. Rand's voice is so simple. He is sensible but he feels so simple to me perhaps because he's a classic farmboy. Of course, we're awaiting for his character development to see what his character has to offer and why he's so significant in the series that we get to see the early chapters in his perspective. This book is written with multiple POVs in third person.
Aside from being sensible, a trait I could instantly recognize from Rand is how he's described to be very handsome. I like it when the main protagonists are described to be good-looking. That did it for me for Rand. I liked him instantly there. His very tall height is also significant in this book.
Rand's best friend, Mat, was described to be up-to-no-good and comedic but terrible things happened in this book that one thing Mat was like Merry or Pippin (of LoTR) and the next, he was acting like Royce Melborn (of the Riyria Revelations). He had such sudden character change that I was shocked to the core. And I like it so much. I think of Mat as a young Norman Reedus... because of the bow that he uses.
There are so many euphemisms in this book that I can't help but compare them:
- Aside from Shienarians looking like Asians in my eyes...
- Perrin's axe is a euphemism for a gun as a tool for violence (this is the only time I could take about Perrin). In the USA, people would blame the easy availability of guns for the presence of crime (world-class bank robbery, holdup, murder). Perrin can't help but feel terrible that he has to carry his axe all the time to defend himself when he could easily use it for violence.
- There's also The Way of the Leaf where the Tinkers will never carry weapon with them. If they're attacked, they'd either escape or yield easily and die in the process (which is just as stupid). Small wonder people who don't believe in weapons as a means to defend themselves either dwindle in number or are totally wiped out in history.
- Children of the Light are like the Spaniards during the Spanish Inquisition. They are bent on annihilating anybody with a touch of the supernatural (because anyone with psychic abilities are supposed to be drawing their energy from evil forces).
I have a really fun time reading this book despite its taking my five days worth of time. I know each book takes so much but do not be overwhelmed by the length of the series. This first book is promising, the next ones will offer a lot more. The prologue might sound so ambitious and overbearing that it became tasteless to me (I was put off by it thrice when I tried to read this book many times before) but the moment I reached the half part of the first chapter, I was taken away by the story. And later on, meeting the Aes Sedai Moiraine and her warder Lan Mandragoran made all the difference. Do not judge the book yet (and dismiss it as rubbish) until you reach that point. I swear, it will be all wonderful from then on.
That first bending to make the Web, that is ta’veren, and there is nothing you can do to change it, not until the Pattern itself changes. The Web—ta’maral’ailen , it’s called—can last for weeks, or for years. It can take in a town, or even the whole Pattern. Artur Hawkwing was ta’veren. So was Lews Therin Kinslayer, for that matter, I suppose.