When I was in high school, my dad delivered Sears merchandise to a corner store that also sold what any good corner store does. Goodies, pop, books, comics, magazines, and so-on.
It’s the books, comics and magazines that were important at the time, because, as is common with my father, he became friends with the shopkeeper. What this resulted in was box after box of coverless literature. There were dozens of the same issue of Deathlok, Sleepwalker, Ghostrider and all the other popular comics of the day, as well as thirty or forty Auto Traders, Big Bike magazine and all other sorts of things.
It is this way, however, that I discovered Robert Jordan. One delivery of books brought The Eye of the World into my life and I read it, sort of knowing that I liked fantasy and thinking that this looked like a good fantasy novel.
I’ve never been pulled in by a book so completely in my life. The story starts in a serene little village where the weather is strange. It’s been winter far too long. Then a modest farm boy sees a mysterious stranger on the road, which leads to a whirlwind of adventure, excitement, terror, elation and sadness. This is the traditional fantasy story at its absolute best. The characters are believable, you can sympathize with them, and, unlike Jordan’s later works, they haven’t worked themselves into stereotypes or cariacatures of themselves yet.
The terror that follows the main characters is haunting, the evil they have to overcome daunting, and pages are turned with heart in throat.
The Eye of the World is the book that helped me to define myself as a fan of Fantasy (or Speculative Fiction if you’re one of those who finds the term Fantasy to be a negative one) and it has largely directed my reading toward that genre.
Today, I finished my (what, tenth, eleventh?) latest reread of this book and it remains my favourite.
In the impossible slowness of this incredibly busy day, I just thought I’d share that.