The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

WoT01_TheEyeOfTheWorldThe Eye of the World is book one of the thirteen-book Wheel of Time series. I bought this book over a year ago and it took me a long time to start reading it. I began the book, telling myself that I could stop at any time and abandon not only book one, but the idea of reading the whole series.

The story starts slowly, focusing on Rand Al’Thor and a few friends from Emond’s Field: Mat, Perrin, and Egwene, and two strangers (Moraine Sedai and her Warder Lan Mandragoran) who come to town around the feast day, Bel Tine. Implausibly, these strangers convince Rand and his gang to leave the Two Rivers area in a bid to end the recent and unprecedented Trolloc attacks on their village. (This is a place they’ve barely left their entire lives. It’s all they know, and these intriguing strangers convince them to leave on a moment’s notice. Hmm…)

The middle of the book is repetitive to the point of tedious, where (of course) the fleeing group gets separated into smaller groups. The story mainly follows Rand and Mat, who get attacked by Darkfriends in various guises in every stop they make.

This long middle section reminded me of Scooby Doo where meddling kids are repeatedly attacked only to foil the evil forces. The book is over 800 pages and it covers this one lengthy and perilous journey. I was almost ready to abandon the book when the action began in the last couple hundred pages. Additionally, Loial the Ogier‘s appearance added a much needed element of intrigue. (Who doesn’t love a thinking being who adores books?)

My other major qualm with the writing is the golly-shucks-hayseed innocence to the interior monologue of some of the characters, notably, Rand, Perrin, and Egwene. Greater character development would make them feel less wooden. They’re young adults, though they think like children. Sometimes this book felt like a YA novel.

The action in this book hooked me enough to read to the end. I enjoyed learning about the world and about the various inhabitants, dark forces, and magical beings enough to start book two: The Great Hunt. Two hundred pages in, it’s moving slowly as well. Will I read book three? The jury is out.

May and June, 2014

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss

the-wise-mans-fear-large-patrick-rothfuss The Wise Man’s Fear is book two in Patrick Rothfuss’ epic fantasy trilogy, The Kingkiller Chronicles. I enjoyed this book very much. As I approached the end — as 1285 pages in the story of Kvothe began to draw to a close — I lamented the dwindling number of pages remaining.

As in the first novel, The Name of the Wind, I struggled with Denna as a character. I find her motives vague and her constant disappearances frustrating.

After 2000+ pages of The Kingkiller Chronicles, I still only have a superficial understanding of her. I want to like her; I really do. As a reader, you learn very little about her in this book. She remains an enigma wrapped in a mystery.

Rothfuss starts to reveal more about her character during a passage in which Kvothe follows Denna into an unsavoury part of town at night. In the end, the mystery and frustration around her deepens because that night ends, and we never find out anything further about that scene. Without knowing anything about Denna’s backstory (a chapter or two in the book told from her perspective might have been helpful) you question Kvothe’s judgement as he continues to flail at a relationship with her, only to be repeatedly rebuffed with Denna’s familiar and frustrating refrain, “you’re just like all the other nasty men in my life.” Sometimes you wish that she’d disappear for good.

Despite Denna, I’m looking forward to book three, which is due out sometime in 2015.

February and March, 2014

The Muirwood Trilogy by Jeff Wheeler

  • The Wretched of Muirwood
  • The Scourge of Muirwood
  • The Blight of Muirwood

A fun, satisfying, epic fantasy trilogy featuring a strong young female protagonist in Lia Cook/Hunter, who is based on Gwenllian ferch Llywelyn, the lost princess of Wales.

I wasn’t completely sure until after I got well into book one that this was a Y/A series. Chock full of interesting magic through a force called the Medium that both good and evil characters can harness, this was an orphan-girl-makes good tale set in a fictional medieval land.

While book one The Wretched of Muirwood, is a bit of a slow start, the story moves more quickly in book two, The Scourge of Muirwood, and book three, The Blight of Muirwood. In fact, book three feels like it could have been a lot longer, given that dénouement for the final volume and the full series seems crammed into the last 30 pages.

I’d love to see this series carried into an adult novel which would be able to delve more deeply into the nuances of the characters and what happens to Colvin, Lia, and their future generations. In the Author’s Note to The Blight of Muirwood, Jeff Wheeler reports the next instalment begins in a novella called Maia, which is available to read online.

January, 2014