Author: Robert Jordan
Genre: High Fantasy
Length: 814 Pages (Paperback)
Release: January 1990
My Rating: 3.5/5
This was a difficult book for me to rate. The beginning was intriguing and I was interested in this novel the whole way through, but the beginning was missing something. I am very much a lover of character driven stories and this introduced the characters in too much of a rush for me to really determine if I liked one before another was thrown at me.
I really enjoyed this novel and by the halfway point I was fully invested, if not entirely in love with the characters. The story had me flipping pages and eager for more. Rand, the main character, is the only perspective you see for the majority of the novel, and really the only one until nearly the halfway point. I wanted to like Rand, but he was one of the few characters that I never really came to care for. It's not that I didn't like him at all, I just didn't like him as much as many of the others. He had a very typical fantasy-lead story: farm boy with questionable origins, loves a girl but doesn't really know how to approach her, longs for adventure at the same time liking his quiet life, his world is forever changed by a huge revelation that takes him far from everything he's ever known. You know, the usual. And while there were some less typical things also, he never stood out to me individually as more than an ok character. I also never really felt much for Mat (he was too whiny) and Egwene just irked me from beginning to end.
As the story progressed I did start to enjoy several of the characters. Among my favorites are Perrin, Nynaeve, Thom, and Lan. Each of these seemed to develop more than any of the other characters and Lan, while similar to many characters in other loved fantasy works, was fascinating nonetheless. He was my personal favorite and I'm excited to see more of him in the coming novels.
The world building in this novel was well done, but a little forceful at times. I would have been able to connect more from the beginning had I not had so much thrown at me in the first chapter. With just a few more explanations in the beginning to open me up to the world, I might have been able to connect to the characters more easily. As it was, it felt like each character was just layering on another piece of the world that I still didn't understand. This eventually worked out (for the most part), but could have been smoother from the beginning. The writing could also be a bit too descriptive and "tell" rather than "show" at times, with dialogue somewhat stilted and confusing. This smoothed out as the novel went on, so I have high hopes that it continues to improve in the future books.
This, overall, was a very enjoyable read. It's not the best fantasy to start with if you're not already a fantasy fan, but if you are then it's a great story to jump into. There's a quest, magic (after a fashion), prophecies, ancient evil, three plain boys forced to either save or condemn the world, and some fun times along the way. Interesting enough to begin with and gets better as you go. I would definitely recommend this to those who enjoy high fantasy.