The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The concept underlying the Wheel of Time is nothing less than the cyclical struggle of good and evil. The turning of the wheel involves the ascendance of a young shepherd, Rand, to a position of eldritch power. Although not explicit, the events easily fit Joseph Campbell’s paradigm of the heroic quest outlined in his classic The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949): a call to adventure, helpers and obstacles, descent, a contest with self-identity, an elixir to restore the world, and return.

The Eye of the World begins with an attack on a small provincial village. The great evil, Ba’alzamon, and his twelve lieutenants, the Forsaken, stir from the prison that has housed them for centuries. Three nineteen-year-old boys—Rand, Mat, and Perrin—must escape to the protection of the Aes Sedai, occult women who wield the magic of the female half of The One Power. They are accompanied by friend Egwene al’Vere, the village wise woman, Nynaeve, Moiraine, a blue Ajah Aes Sedai, her Warder, al’Lan Mandragonan (a young king whose land has been overwhelmed by The Blight), and Thom Merrilin, a gleeman or bard.

Unbeknown to the youths, the male boyhood friends are ta’veren—focal points in an intangible pattern of events, and alternately blessed and damned in their capacities to draw people and events together to cause certain foretold outcomes. They are chased by the minions of evil, led by Padan Fain, a peddler who has been twisted by evil into a bloodhound designed to find The Dragon, one whose birth had been prophesied. The group is pressed to reach The Eye of the World at Fal Dara, a beleaguered outpost in the evil-controlled wastelands known as The Blight. Here Padan Fain is captured.

An earth spirit known as The Green Man welcomes the group, then battles Balthamel, one of the two Forsaken who challenge them. Tapping on the saidin that fills the pool that is The Eye of the World,...

(The entire section is 789 words.)