Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Eye of the World

Aes Sedai Ring
A serpent biting its own tail

This is a book by Robert Jordan, who had become a favorite author of mine a few years back...Its a little corny but when I wrote this I was younger and more romantic :D

This is another great read for serious aficionados of The Lord of the Rings. People who were already into LOTR before the movies made it famous might have already read these books.

The Eye of the World is the first of a series of nine books written by Jordan part of a saga called The Wheel of Time. This is the same guy who wrote The Conan Chronicles that were made into the movie Conan, the Barbarian.

It is also a pure fantasy work on the lines of LOTR and there are some basic similarities like the good and evil battle for power over a fictitious earth. And the names, and a few of the major races. For instance the Orcs of LOTR have become the Trollocs of Jordan.

The characters seem to have been drawn from the major western European races like the Britons and the Vikings. There is also a trace of Indian in the Mega-Super-Villan, who is called Shai’tan. Of course, both the Orcs and the Trollocs seem to have had their origin in the Raakshas, but that is debatable, as even the Irish clan have a similar race in their mythology. People who have played games, the likes of the Age of Mythology, or Baldur’s Gate, will readily identify, and identify with these characters.

History aside, this is quite an awesome book, or series of books. After LOTR, I suppose mentioning the amount of research that went into this book will seem pointless, but nevertheless, its amazing how much was done. It is most definitely not the poor country cousin of LOTR, a series spawning on the Ring’s popularity. Jordan has a style entirely of his own, that is in many respects better than Tolkien himself. Again, an opinion, extremely debatable.

The biggest area in which might Jordan score in any contest, is the “human”-ness of all his characters. His characters have every colour of the rainbow, not just black and white. He has captured the strengths and weaknesses of the human race with uncomfortable accuracy and we are swept away, without our knowledge, into a world, where everything seems possible.

Another unique feature of this book is its description of “good” and “evil”. “Evil” is clearly defined, but we are left guessing about what constitutes “Goodness”. Each race thinks of itself as the “Good” race and has some points in its favour and some against. It is left to the user’s imagination as to what to accept and what to refute. The dogmatic natures of half our modern groups are quite subtly depicted.

The imagery is vivid, the descriptions thorough, and the suspense, nail-biting. This series belongs to a treasury collection not a casual read.

The background is the eternal fight between Shai’tan and the good guy, also called the Dragon. The Dragon is tricked into killing his own family and immolates himself when he realizes what he has done swearing eternal vengeance etc. etc. The Dragon keeps being reborn every now and then, and throughout history, there have been many imposter Dragons who claimed they were ‘The One’ (a.k.a Neo) but finally proved false dragons.

In the foreground are three village youths, who were born within weeks of each other who are suddenly and brutally hunted by the Trollocs for no knowledge of their own. These are very ordinary people who don’t exhibit any signs of heroism at all, yet are being ruthlessly hunted to their deaths.

The Shai’tan appears in all their dreams, trying to frighten each of them to betraying themselves as the Dragon, but as they themselves have very little clue, nothing much is achieved. They are all swept away under the protection of a race called the Aes Sedai, which are a very powerful race of women, with an agenda of their own, who will protect them from the Shai’tan, as long as they are of use.

Everyone else hunts them, the Evil, because they represent a threat to them, the so-called Good, because they assume that these are friends of Shai’tan.

In the world of Jordan, fiction and reality merge seamlessly and produce an irresistible combination. This is not a light Sunday reader, but for someone who plumbs the depths when they read, this book will fascinate.

1 comment:

  1. i read thru the entire post and then wondered what was goin on... thout it was a gud idea to look at the title once.... and then was reminded of "eye of the tiger", a number frm stallone's ROCKY!! im sorry, but this happens often wid me when i read a lengthy post being half asleep :(