When the graphic novel adaption of New Spring, the prequel to the epic Wheel of Time series, was released on January 18th, it was well received here at the Ranting Dragon. Having loved that, we’re even more thrilled to be able to review the first volume of The Eye of the World Graphic Novel, the comic adaption of the first novel in The Wheel of Time series.
An aesthetic beauty
This absolutely stunning hardcover does The Eye of the World justice. The characters shown on the front—Rand, Mat and Perrin—are only part of a full scene that can be fully viewed when you unfold the dust-jacket and see Nynaeve, Egwene, Tam, Moiraine, Thom and Lan as well. It’s a truly amazing piece of art—one worthy of framing on any wall. Underneath the dust jacket, you’ll find a relief of the Wheel of Time symbol—the Wheel and the serpent biting its own tail—which is a very nice touch.
Doing the novel justice
We opened the book with very high hopes, and we weren’t disappointed. This first volume in The Eye of the World Graphic Novel opens with the Ravens prologue found in the young adult version of The Eye of the World and not released in the adult version, which was a very nice surprise. With the additional prologue, as well as an introduction to The Wheel of Time series from Robert Jordan himself—written before his death—new readers to the series won’t feel as lost as they might have starting The Eye of the World novel.
Absolutely no scene, no matter how inconsequential, is left out, from Mat and Rand taking the caskets of wine into the basement of the Inn, to seeing a raven that appears to be spying on them and Moiraine subsequently showing up, to the attack on Rand and Tam’s farm—where Narg, the talking trolloc, makes an appearance. Even Moiraine’s telling of Manetheren’s history was given due attention. In the grand scheme of things, this scene plays such a minor role; yet it is a fan favorite, and one of our favorite scenes in the entire series. This part actually works out rather well in the comic, and Robert Jordan would likely have appreciated how true to the original story this graphic novel remains, not leaving any bit out, no matter how hard to translate the images may have been.
A small warning!
One thing for fans of The Wheel of Time to keep in mind before reading the graphic novel, however, is that this is the first time that the characters have ever been drawn to be mass-marketed in the twenty-one years since The Eye of the World was first released. Unfortunately, some of these drawings might not live up to the pictures in your head. However, they are drawn consistently, and an exquisite amount of detail is rendered in these pages, so we might as well cut the artist, Chase Conley, some slack, especially considering that he had the absolute approval of The Jordan Estate.
Obviously, we had our preferences as well. For example, Thom looks like a fragile and grumpy hippie. We have always pictured him with longer hair, and while his attitude seems completely spot on, the drawings just don’t match up with how we pictured him for so many years. The style in which Moiraine is drawn provided a big problem for us as well. She doesn’t seem to embody the Aes Sedai presence that she so clearly possesses in the novels. Her height, while accurate, was depicted in such a way that made her seem small and submissive, contrary to the novels. Some of her facial expressions were so very unlike Moiraine and a tad demeaning to the character. Tam, on the other hand, was absolutely amazingly drawn. He seemed very well-represented—the perfect image of a grizzled war veteran who has now settled down to life as a shepherd.
An improvement upon New Spring
Unlike the art of New Spring, which was for the most part lively and colorful, The Eye of the World is dark, perfectly capturing the atmosphere of the story. Some minor details were missing for die-hard fans like myself, such as the heron marks on Rand’s sword when it’s first introduced, even though it’s discussed later on. That doesn’t diminish the masterful skill with which this story was drawn onto the pages, however. This is further enhanced by the fact that the same artists worked on the entire graphic novel. Where New Spring had characters that were drawn in a different style every other chapter, the art in The Eye of the World provides us with continuity and consistency.
Epic bonus materials
The bonus materials at the end of this volume are simply amazing. Chase Conley’s sketchbook features a lot of characters that we won’t see for another volume or two—if not longer—but the initial sketches being included here further increases the anticipation for future volumes. It is definitely hard to pick out a favorite from the twenty-six character sketches, but it was impressive to see how many were included. The second part of the bonus materials—the cover gallery—is also absolutely stunning. You get to view every cover that was released for the individual issues, and they’re all impressive. These images don’t come directly from the story, but are nonetheless stunning – just take a look at the example on the right.
Why should you read this novel?
Overall, The Eye of the World Graphic Novel absolutely did the first part of the book justice. The characters are literally brought to life right in front of you, and the script doesn’t detract from Jordan’s marvelous storytelling. This comic comes together perfectly, from the surprising prologue to the marvelous cut-off at the end, complete with cliffhanger. This comic adaption of The Wheel of Time is a great addition to the collection of any fan of the series, as well as a decent starting point for those that wish to start the series in a lighter way. We definitely cannot wait for the next volume, which is coming in June 2012.