Monday, August 06, 2007

The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan

For slow readers like me, any book over 400 pages takes a real commitment to read. The Eye of the World clocks in at 832 pages. There's nothing wrong with a long book, as long as its pages are filled with a story that holds your interest. The Sharon Shinn series I've been reading recently is a great example of a long story (well over 1,000 pages so far) that leaves you craving more. However, the longer the book, the greater the obligation to make every page count.

Unfortunately, The Eye of the World does not live up to that obligation. It's not a bad story, but it's filled with fluff. The middle portion of the book drags because of this fluff. The cycle of "go to a town, almost get caught, go to the next town" repeats itself a few too many times. This same section of the book also includes pointless scenes, such as the farmgirl that took an interest in Rand despite her mother's and Rand's wish that she would leave him alone. The scene didn't advance the plot, nor did it contribute to character development, so the only reason I can see for its inclusion is to add interest, i.e., keep the reader from getting bored with an otherwise monotonous story.

This book and its sequals are considered one of the top fantasy series out there, and I don't understand why. If I were a faster reader, perhaps the extraneous sections would have added minutes to the reading time instead of hours, and then perhaps the book's flaws wouldn't have been so obvious. My kids often ask me to tell them the stories I've been reading. We all enjoyed the condensed version of the story I shared with them, but the full length version wasn't fun to read.

When I was picking out a book to take on a recent business trip, I found myself in front of the Robert Jordan section. As I held the next book in the series in my hands, it looked and felt like work, not pleasure. Placing the book back on the shelf caused me no heartburn at all. There are too many good fantasy books out there to waste my time on bloat-ware.

Two stars

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