The short version of this post runs thuslywise: this book, for me, was a progression of very unsurprising and clichéd occurrences, none of which seemed the least bit original, clever, inspiring or exciting. It was one unit fantasy novel and nothing more.
The long version is pretty much the same, but I whinge about some other stuff too. Some people commented on my FB post about the first one, reminding me (as I had forgotten to note in my post) about the terribleness of the female characters on offer in The Eye of the World. This hasn’t really changed. Forgive me for spoiling (or y’know, look away for a line or two), but the one female character who made a vague attempt at not irretrievable (and it was really vague, I have to say, she was still pretty stereotypical) was Min, and then she goes on to be all in love with Rand (along with the rest of his growing fanclub) basically out of nowhere at the end of Book 2. Where did that come from? I was willing to accept that both Egwene and Elayne might have crushes on him. Two is not completely unreasonable, and Egwene and he were sort of semi totally going to marry until they left their home town (and Elayne probably hasn’t had much access to people other than family, so the first cute ginger boy who comes past may well catch her eye?), but three is pushing it. Add to that the sudden appearance of a mysterious older lady who is completely and mysteriously gorgeous and flirting outrageously with our teenage hero, and it all goes a bit pear-shaped, beyond any chance of arguing away. If we’re doing this, why not just solve the issues of the entire series by everyone falling in love with Rand and living happily ever after in his own private harem while he angst about, angsting angstily, as he seems to do.
It all just smacks of teenage wish-fulfillment. There are all these really beautiful young women who are all in love with the main character, who is completely good and noble, and has picked up the whole sword-wielding thing amazingly quickly and is basically innately good at it, and has this massive and noble destiny (with angst) that he can angst about while gorgeous ladies moon over him and tell him about his destiny that he has.
There are other issues too, but that one annoyed me the most.
All the characters are just so… flat. They weren’t particularly fleshed out in Book 1, and we’ve seen no improvements. There are some evil people, and they are really really evil, and do evil things evilly. Then there are good people, who are good. There’s like… one moral grey fuzzy bit… no, two… and they are moments that have almost no reflection on the plot as a whole and are dealt with in less than a page each. DEPTH.
Like I said first, as well, the plot is just a progression of things that no one is surprised is happening. I felt the need to exclaim aloud at completely unexpected yep honest we never saw it coming not even a little bit moments, where the plot was so predictable it hurt me. At this point, I fail to see how a long enormous series can be eked out of thi- oh wait a moment. So that’s why there’s an entire book dedicated to reactions to something in a previous book. It’s all starting to make sense.
More than anything, my problem with the series so far is lack of variation. Nothing changes, nothing is unexpected. It’s just same old same old for several hundred pages. How did this get to be some sort of classic again? Someone is going to have to explain this to me. But it is some sort of classic, so I’m going to have to (fsvo “have to”) continue reading until it’s overwhelmingly awful (I predict this point will reach me in about three books time, for I have a high tolerance for rubbishness when I have set myself to a task). It would possibly be worse as well if it felt like one of those books where the author has wasted some natural talent throwing out some trash, but it doesn’t. I don’t get the feeling of “oh come on Jordan, you can do better than this”. I’m just sad. It is rather telling that the best compliment I have is “it’s sufficiently not gripping that I don’t mind putting it down to change trains on my morning commute, even mid-way through a chapter”. But that is the best I have to say.