I read this book and three others in the series a few years ago, but my interest ended up fizzling out after Book 4. I’ve decided to return to them due to the eventual payoff of reaching the three epic novels Brandon Sanderson contributed to the end of the series. Brandon Sanderson writes epic fantasy better than anyone else, IMO. I don’t want to miss anything he’s created. And I do understand that these early books of Jordan’s were written a long time ago. So much good evolution in the fantasy genre has occurred since his time. Still, it’s still hard not to get rubbed the wrong way by certain tropes.
Mostly, I can’t stand how Jordan depicts and describes women. They all have varying degrees of the same irrational personality, the most frequently mentioned detail is how low-cut their gowns are, and there is a tiring ‘man vs woman’ layer to all interactions between the sexes. All that said, though, I do appreciate that Jordan gives women lots of screen time and power and important roles.
Most other aspects of this story are spot-on. I love the world. I love the growing tension and the way facts are slowly revealed to drive the plot. I love watching characters struggle to adjust to their new reality. This is a strong beginning to a series that is about as epic as they come.
Other than the frequent irritation about the character dynamics mentioned above, I found this book to be immersive. There is magic to be discovered, forces of evil to hate, and lots of good traveling. I particularly love the idea of the wheel of time, the pattern, and certain people who powerfully impact those around them whether they want to or not. Basically, it’s a fresh take on the whole “farm boy becomes most important person in the world because fate” idea. Overall this framing for the story lends structure and a satisfying sensation of things developing in the way they are meant to.
Read it if you’re ready to embark on a massive adventure into a world of magic where the battle between good and evil takes center stage.
Skip it if you can’t stomach uninspired depictions of women or don’t love stories that sprawl and crawl sometimes.