The Eye Of The World (The Wheel Of Time The Graphic Novel Volume 2) by Robert Jordan, Chuck Dixon and Andie Tong (graphic novel review).

‘The Wheel Of Time’ is a famous multi-volume fantasy saga written by Robert Jordan and finished, following his notes, by Brandon Sanderson who was a huge fan of the series long before he became a writer himself. This is volume 2 of a graphic novel adaptation of ‘The Eye Of The World’, the first book in the saga. I haven’t read volume 1 or any of the books, but there’s a useful summary of it in two pages of text here.

On Winternight, Trollocs, servants of the Dark Lord, attacked the village of Edmond’s Field looking for Rand, Mat and Perrin, three local lads. In one of them or perhaps all was an element of latent power that the Dark Lord feared. The boys fled their home in the company of Moiraine, an Aes Sedai, and her Warder, Lan. They had arrived in Edmond’s Field shortly before the Trollocs. Moraine insists that Egwene, a local girl, come with them for she has the potential to join the Aes Sedai, powerful sorcerers. Also with them was Thom Merillin, a gleeman who performed songs, told stories and so forth.

Volume 2 opens with a group of people fleeing on horseback. They are harassed by a Draghkar, a sort of winged demon but make it to the riverside settlement of Taren Ferry. The ferryman and his crew are reluctant to work in the middle of the night but jingling coins entice them. So they journey on, stopping to make camp and getting to know each other. Secrets are slowly revealed along with much of the rich background to this fantasy world.

‘Wheel Of Time’ has a reputation as the archetypal multi-volume fantasy that stretched beyond mere trilogies into a seemingly endless future. It’s a publishing trend I’m not crazy about so I approached this warily. To my surprise, I really liked it. Oh, there are elements of Tolkien here with the happy farm boys wrenched away from their normal existence into a world-shaking conflict. So what? It’s certainly inspired by ‘Lord Of The Rings’ but Jordan introduces plenty of new elements.

I liked the general moral tone of the thing, good people being good but not too good and with the different groups having their own agendas. The Ais Sedai are not entirely trusted and there’s a sort of cult called the Children of the Light who wear white cloaks and claim to be righteous but use hot irons when asking questions. In a dream, Rand meets Ba’Alzamon, a rather satanic-looking chap who gives him a spiel about all his evil works through history. It reads like the lyrics of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’.

The art by Andie Tong is terrific, both in terms of telling the story and being easy on the eye. At the back of the book are several plates showing his work in ink, before it was coloured by Nicolas Chapuis, which shows the quality of the underlying drawing. The coloured work looks even better. Tong uses thick lines in places, reminding me of Chic Stone’s inks on Jack Kirby.

‘The Wheel Of Time’ series sold 40 million copies worldwide and has been out there a while, so I guess anyone interested in this graphic novel will already know the story. The adaptation is worth buying for the beautiful pictures and the book itself, certainly the hardback, is a quality artefact. I enjoyed it a lot but if you’re not a fan of epic fantasy you might think, what a load of Trollocs!

Eamonn Murphy

November 2020

(pub: TOR/Forge, 2012. 167 page graphic novel hardback. Price: $24.99 (US), $28.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-7653-3162-5)

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