The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan Narrated by Michael Kramer & Kate Reading

Thirty years after its original publication, Robert Jordan’s The Eye of the World remains as timeless and captivating as it was when it first came out while I was still in my pre-teens. Following in the footsteps laid by previous epic fantasy series from authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Terry Brooks, Jordan’s Wheel Of Time stands as a someday classic series of epic fantasy in its own right, though it does borrow elements from those earlier works.
That’s a petty complaint to level against Jordan’s books since his doing so was far less dramatic and obvious than Terry Brooks’s borrowing from Tolkien with major elements of The Sword of Shannara. Nothing we read is truly original and written in absolute isolation from the books and stories that inspired the author. It’s this same understanding that makes it easy for me to also enjoy Terry Goodkind’s series, The Sword of Truth, which transparently borrows some elements from The Wheel of Time as well as from those earlier epic fantasy series.
Following Rand and his friends from their humble but auspicious origins in Emond’s Field in the Two Rivers district to the horrific landscape of the Blight as they’re led by Moiraine and Lan is as exciting now as when I was a child, though I find myself relating more to characters I’d not related to as strongly when I was a younger reader. That is a sign of a great author indeed, that the novel can still appeal to readers (albeit differently) when they’re young men and when they’re adults in middle-age. This book (and the subsequent series) is a coming of age tale as much as it is a thoroughly engaging fantasy, exploring the nature of fate/destiny and the cyclic nature of civilization, society, and (within the series) time itself.
I’ve never read the concluding few novels of this series nor the prequel to The Eye of the World, and I thought it might be appropriate to listen through the audiobook recordings of the books I’ve already read, to catch myself up to where I need to be. The narration provided primarily by Michael Kramer and occasionally by Kate Reading (when Nynaeve is the focal point of the chapter) is immersive and successfully propels the story forward. It’s a different experience to hear this book in a different voice than the ones in my head.
Michael Kramer manages to breathe life into the characters of Rand al’Thor, Matrim Cauthon, and Perrin Aybara in the way they deserve. This is a relief, seeing as how he and Kate Reading are the narrators for at least the first five books of the series (those are the ones I’ve purchased from Audible so far).

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