"I suppose I had better give you a sample. So you can tell the others. Eh? Just a taste of what you'll see tomorrow at your festival."
He took a step back, and suddenly leapt into the air, twisting and somersaulting to land facing them atop the old stone foundation. Even Rand forgot his irritation. He flashed Egwene a grin and got a delighted one in return, then both turned to stare unabashedly at the gleeman.
"You want stories?" Thom Merrilin declaimed. "I have stories, and I will give them to you. I will make them come alive before your eyes."
Author: Robert Jordan
Synopsis: Teenage Rand al'Thor and his friends Perrin and Mat have been seeing strange apparitions. Then an Aes Sedai—a woman who can wield the One Power—and her Warder come to town. Not long after the strangers' arrival, the town is attacked by Trollocs, and the three young friends' houses are the primary targets.
Aided by the Aes Sedai, Rand and his friends flee their homes, accompanied by Rand's presumed future wife. The most evil power in all of history is seeking Rand and his friends, though, and as it turns out, each of the young refugees from Rand's town has an unexpected destiny.
Notes: It was a lot of fun watching Robert Jordan break nearly every known rule of writing and still succeed.
I suspect that Mr. Jordan is responsible for aspiring fantasy writers who think it permissible to create 250,000-word manuscripts with a cast large enough to fill a small town. He may also be to blame for strange naming conventions including apostrophes (his name choices seemed to be drawn from an odd mixture of Gaelic and Semitic languages.) Also, given the time, I could have edited a lot out of this book; numerous scenes seemed reasonably unimportant. Finally, the long-lasting point of view jumps were maddening.
All of that said, I liked the book. I liked it a heck of a lot more than I expected to.
First, I thoroughly enjoy it when a story gives me echoes of other stories, especially religious ones. This first book of the Wheel of Time series is full of such things. It's sort of like reading Star Wars, where nearly every religion in existence is mishmashed into the mythology, but it was interesting. Most of the time, the effect was quite subtle, just enough to make me curious.
My favorite thing, though, was the characters. I especially adored the reluctant hero, Rand, the sturdy and stable Perrin, curious, intelligent Egwene, and to some extent, the lovely Moiraine. And despite her tempestuous nature, I even liked Nynaeve. (The pronunciation guide in the back helped me get a handle on the troublesome names: e-GWAIN, mwah-RAIN, NIGH-neev.) Give me a character I can love, and I'll brave just about anything to get through a book. Robert Jordan gave me several.
The question for me now is: Do I dare invest the necessary time to read all twelve or thirteen or however many other novels are in the series, all of them ranging from 500-1000 pages? Yeah, I read fast. Quite fast, honestly. But that's still a major investment of time, regardless of whether said time is linear or set upon a wheel.
I've checked out book two from the library, so we'll see how things go.
Recommendation: Stretch out in a chair with the drink of your choice, and settle down for a very long, very enjoyable read.