Hello friends! Let me start this off by saying this is the first of a monthly blog post focused on literary figures, books, authors, artists, film, etc. that have greatly inspired me as a writer. These will be posted on the anniversary of said honoree.
(Edit: While I know this is the day we celebrate and honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr., I’m making this little edit at this time to say he was truly inspirational and a man filled with vision and love who could see beyond to what we as a people could and should be as citizens of the United States. Take a moment today and honor him in any way you can.)
It’s only fitting that the first post of this series honors the late Robert Jordan and his introduction to the world I fell in love with after the first page.
Granted, I know not everyone who reads this post will be in agreement or even having read The Eye of the World (Book 1 of the Wheel of Time series). No worries! My mission is not to convert anyone to become a follower of the Dragon (first in book reference).
As I’ve stated before, I first came across this book back in the fall of 1999 (dear lord, that makes me feel old). The book was published back on January 16th, 1990. I still remember going to the library before school started (yes, my friends and I were those Freshmen), sitting at the table and noticing a book one of my friends was reading. See the image below (how could you not be intrigued?!). For whatever reason, this book caught my eye. I was not an avid reader to say the least. I barely read comic books. Yet, it was this book that captivated me and set my course to this day more than 17 years later.
For those uninitiated in the world of epic fantasy (sorry, if you only watch Game of Thrones, I don’t count you as a fellow fantasy nerd. But there’s still hope!), The Eye of the World takes the reader on an adventure filled to the brim with a colorful, complex world where there are Aes Sedai, Trollocs, Gleemen, and Forsaken. Are you looking at that list and thinking, “Uh… what?” Obviously not if you’ve delved beyond this first of fourteen tome.
I will not be providing an Amazon worthy critique exactly or even a vast, droning summary. No, I’d rather share how this book thrust me forward as a writer.
The Eye of the World (I’ve read it at least five times) has continued to teach me how to write an epic fantasy novel. Robert Jordan is notorious for details. Every person and place was vividly described in a way that once I got ten books in drove me crazy. At that point, you know the world so well, you don’t care what color and style clothes Rand al’Thor is wearing as he sits in some manor house with its rugs and tapestries in Tear (stay with me!). You just want the story to move forward. As a reader, that’s frustrating but as a writer, I learned the invaluable treasure of providing details in my own writing that lends to the realism of the world I’ve created.
Now, I admit, I do not write to the level of detail Robert Jordan does in his books. I have my own style and approach to world building but I cannot stress how much his books inspired me more than any other. I’m so thankful for his level and commitment to detail because I learned to appreciate it as I set out to write my own books, starting back in 2003. That’s nearly fourteen years where I learned and realized that I wanted to include details!
Stories need details. The best ones out there include details that appeal to the senses. If the reader cannot only see the scene on the page but hear, smell and even taste the acrid smoke on the battlefield where charred wood and bodies choke the lungs of the wailing wounded, then as a writer, I have failed to immerse my reader in the hell that’s presented. The goal of the scene should be to make the reader’s stomach twist slightly, pulling them into the mess and chaos of a battle’s aftermath. Even if you’ve never been involved in such a horrible place in real life, you should be able to tap into your imagination and be there.
Robert Jordan’s writing taught me far more than just the importance of detail in writing. Setting, foreshadowing, theme, characterization, etc. These are all areas I gained more knowledge of each time I revisited his world. I am forever thankful for such a writer and book offered to the literary community.
Call to Action: Buy or go to your local library and find the Eye of the World (pst, you can just click on the pic above). I encourage everyone to experience this great novel even if you’re not a fantasy aficionado like myself. It’s worth reading just to immerse yourself in the great detailed writing.