The Eye of the World

Recently I have been reading Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World (EotW). In this post I will share some of my thoughts of the book. For a summary I will refer to the Wikipedia page on this work of fiction. Here I will focus on my impressions.

EotW is clear example of high fantasy as it follows the typical hero’s journey or monomyth schedule. The story begins with the lives of ordinary people in a rural region, Two Rivers, where big events do not happen. After a couple of outsiders, a merchant, a gleeman, an Aes sedai and her warder came to the village of Emond’s field, where the protagonist and his friends live, the village of Emond’s field is suddenly attacked by dark creatures which normally lives far away from Two Rivers.

After this attack is over, the Aes Sedai informs that the Dark Creatures were looking for three young men from the village (Rhand Al’thor, Matrim Cauthon and Perrin Aybara) and tells them the come with her to travel to the headquarters of her order to find our why. Suddenly the group is joined by the Gleeman, Thom Merrilin and a young woman, Egwene. With little preparations they live the next morning in a hurry.

On the way they are attacked several times by Dark Creatures and at some moment the group is split into three fractions. It takes a lot of time before they got reunited, meanwhile our main hero, Rhand, has to deal without guidance of the Aes Sedai.

And finally, at the very end of the book, we have a battle between Rhand and the Dark One and his associates.

Let me now focus on the book’s protagonist, Rhand Al’thor. In this part I will discuss the issue of father figures. I am inspired by American-Dutch movie scientist Dan Hassler-Forest’s analysis of “The Lord of the Rings”. DHF identifies a number of father figures of Frodo. I will repeat this excerices for EotW.

There are number of father figures for Rhand in EotW. First we meet his own father Tham, of whom we have reason to doubt whether he is really Rhand’s biological father. Anyway he has raised from infancy till manhood. During the sudden attack Tham is, however, mortally injured and survives only because intervention by Moiraine, the Aes Sedai who happens to visit Emond’s field.

Tham is too weak to join his son on his journey. But Rhand is in the company of two other men; Lan, Moiraine’s warder, and the gleeman, Thom Merrilin. Lan’s main duty is to defend his mistress and has to be courageous. And though Thom is an entertainer by trade, he has a great knowledge of the danger in the world outside Two Rivers and shares this with Rhand and his friends.

Both men teach important things to Rhand. Lan teaches how to handle a sword properly and Thom provides essential information about a wide range of creatures and other important stuff. However, these man represent certain values. Lan enshrines both courage and loyalty (to his female companion), Thom has knowledge.

Interestingly I also identified a number of mother-figures in EotW, triggered by Hassler-Forest’s remark about the remarkable lack of women in the Lord of the Rings.

We learn in the beginning that Rhand lost his “own” mother, Kari, at young age and was consequently raised by his father. The most importantt mother-figure in the story is, of course, Moiraine. She takes care of Rhand and his friends Mat and Perrin, as if it were her sons and takes steps to protect them against the Dark One’s armies. And like a good mother she reprimands the boys when they behave stupidly.

Another important mother-figure is Nynaeve. When it is discovered that three young men and her pupil Egwene has left the village, she travels in their steps to get back to Emond’s field. Though we know Nynaeve is a young woman, she is still significant older than Rhand and his friends. Furthermore she is the village’s Wisdom, the highest position of authority for women in Emond’s field.

The Eye of the World is clearly written and is devoid of long, boring passages with no action. But all action in the story serves a clear purpose in the plot and there is no meaningless action for the sake action alone. And though it is not a literary master piece, it is fun to read – if you like this kind of fiction – and in its genre it is definitely one of the best.

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